Companies are holding back from moving to Windows XP because of the cost and effort needed to complete the transition, according to research.
A survey of IT chiefs in 100 medium to large UK companies found that, after two years on the market, the adoption of Microsoft's latest operating system remains slow, with only 11 per cent of businesses fully migrating their desktops.
The survey, commissioned by infrastructure management software maker ON Technology, also found that a quarter of businesses have not migrated any desktops to XP.
Rob Drew, strategic alliances and partners manager at ON Technology, suggested that the high cost of upgrading IT infrastructures, and the time and resources needed to do it, are behind the decision, not Microsoft's controversial licensing model.
"Cost is the issue and for once and it is not licensing that people are worried about. It is the actual cost of carrying out the migration that is the problem," he explained.
Businesses are hesitant as the benefits associated with upgrading are not yet clear.
Jeremy Fish, managing director at Synaptic, which develops software for independent financial advisors, said that his company has not upgraded any of its internal systems.
"We use Windows 2000 currently and, until it makes sense to upgrade to Windows XP, I cannot see [us doing so]," he said.
"There is not a compelling enough argument for upgrading, because the costs, time and resources outweigh the benefits."
Microsoft ended support for NT4 on 30 June this year. Customers that want to move to XP will have to refresh their infrastructures or seek third-party support.
Ovum analyst Gary Barnett maintained that the research findings are not surprising and that Microsoft has work to do to demonstrate the benefits of XP.
"To boost sales and fend off the threat of Linux, Microsoft must address the fact that for business users there is not much more you can do with XP than with Windows 2000," he said.
Microsoft claimed that the majority of its enterprise customers are licensed to run XP, but admitted that a smaller proportion is fully migrated. But the software giant is confident that this will change.
A spokesperson told vnunet.com in a statement: "Feedback from some of our larger customers is that complete deployment in their organisations may take several years just because of the scale of the number of desktops, etc.
"There is a cost per desktop to deploy any new technology but there is a significant return on investment to be gained from deploying Windows and Office XP."
Microsoft added that hardware refreshes are linked with operating system upgrades.
"With hardware refresh cycles lengthening to 3.5 years from an average of 18 months, this is a significant reason for the delay," said the spokesperson.
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