A new survey has found that the majority of IT staff don't plan to upgrade to Windows 7 in the next year, after Vista's failure to win hearts and minds. But even more concerning for Microsoft is that half are now considering an operating system from its rivals.

Eighty-four percent of survey respondents said they have no plans to upgrade existing Windows desktops and laptops to Windows 7 next year. This was despite positive feedback from beta testers to the new operating system.

And it seems as though Vista is to blame after many of the respondents cited its shortcomings as the leading reason for the cautious approach to Windows 7. Other reasons cited were concerns over the cost of implementation, software compatibility, and the current economic downturn.

The survey confirmed that many businesses are opting to remain with the venerable Windows XP operating system. The vast majority (83 percent no less) said they are likely to skip Vista altogether and eventually migrate directly to Windows 7.

This despite Microsoft warning enterprise customers that the migration path from XP to Windows 7 won't be any easier than it is to Vista.

The survey was conducted by market research firm Dimensional Research and commissioned by Kace. It was conducted in March among 1,142 IT professionals from small, mid-sized and large organisations worldwide. Of those polled, 17 percent indicated they have installed the Windows 7 beta.

The survey will make uncomfortable reading for Steve Ballmer, after 50 percent of respondents said they are considering moving from Windows altogether to an alternative operating systems, such as Mac OS and Linux, up almost 10 percent from a survey conducted last July.

Indeed, 27 percent cited Mac OS as their top alternative.

"The research shows that despite the early enthusiasm for Windows 7, organisations are still wary about adoption, demonstrating what could be described as an even overly cautious approach," said Diane Hagglund, senior research analyst for Dimensional Research and the survey's author in a statement. "Negative public perception of Vista seems to have helped build this layer of distrust with Windows 7."

Other notable findings include 72 percent indicating they are more concerned about upgrading to Windows 7 than staying with an outdated XP operating system. Also, 60 percent said they do not presently have a tool in place that automates operating system migration.