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After marketing Windows Vista for more than a year, Microsoft has made little headway in driving adoption of the operating system among corporate customers, according to new research.

Worse yet, Microsoft will fare only marginally better with Windows Vista in 2008, according to the survey of 232 IT managers conducted by Ziff Davis Enterprise, the parent company of eWEEK Channel Insider.

Of the 162 IT managers that answered a question concerning their plans for 2009, 71 percent said they expected their organizations to be running the same version of Windows they have today as their primary desktop operating system.

The most compelling reason to make the move to Windows Vista, cited by most of the 29 percent of IT managers that said they either have or will move to the new operating system, was the fact that Windows Vista would come bundled on the new hardware they expected to purchase in the coming year.

About 34 percent of those IT managers cited new hardware as the primary reason to move to Vista, while 17 percent of them expected to make the move to Windows Vista because of better security.

Another 13 percent pointed to integration with Windows Server 2008 as the primary reason, while 7 percent cited better usability. Another 3 percent said better reliability would be the reason to switch.

What all this means is that when people decide to move to Windows Vista it’s largely due to the inertia associated with hardware refresh rates. At the moment, only 2 percent of all the IT managers surveyed said they were actually using Windows Vista as their primary desktop today; but on the positive side, at least 30 percent of them acknowledged that Windows Vista is in use somewhere in their organization.

This does show that while Windows Vista has penetrated the enterprise, its success has been spotty at best. The good news for solution providers is that, among those moving to Windows Vista, about 50 percent said they would make the move within the next 12 months.

When you consider the overall size of the market, the number of units of Windows Vista going into corporate sites is fairly substantial. But the bulk of the market remains resistant, which means it’s hard to say that Windows Vista has come anywhere close to being a smashing success. In fact, 6 percent of those surveyed are already looking past Windows Vista because they said they expect to be running a new version of Windows, known as Windows 7, in 2009.

None of this is likely to sit well with the folks in Redmond, so the thing to watch from a channel perspective is just how much demand generation work Microsoft will being doing for Windows Vista in the enterprise.

It’s pretty clear that Windows Vista is not going to sell itself, but to date there has not been much of a drumbeat for Windows Vista among Microsoft’s partners. That lack of enthusiasm reflects the tenor of the customer base.

So if Microsoft wants to change the tone around Windows Vista it needs to turn its partners into real advocates for the operating system, as opposed to the role they play today—roughly the equivalent of bystanders at a traffic accident.