Companies are proving to be reticent to upgrade Microsoft Exchange. According to a new survey, most British businesses are still using Exchange 2003 and the majority of these have no plans to move to Exchange 2007 within the next 12 months.

The survey, which was commissioned by Internet service provider Star Internet found that 57 percent of Exchange customers were still using Exchange 2003 or older and 58 percent had no plans to migrate to the current version.

Companies cited cost of the software licences and the necessary investment in training as the main reasons in refusing to make the upgrades.

The survey also asked whether customers would be interested in adopting a hosted version of the software - not surprisingly, given Star's vested interest in the topic. Again, there was no great enthusiasm for such a delivery mechanism, 41 percent would not consider such a move,

However, recent legislation aimed at providing parents with more opportunities to work from home has boosted the take-up of Exchange 2007, with 29 percent of the survey respondents citing it as a reason to move to the more recent software.

According to Star, this would have been prompted by Exchange 2007's improved remote access handling. A company spokesman said that Star's Business Email Sevrvice had proved particularly attractive. "The enhancements include Web-Ready Document Viewing, which allows users to view Microsoft Office and PDF documents direct in a web browser, without needing to have the appropriate software installed on their machine, great for places such as Internet cafes. You can now easily access contacts, documents and shared calendars on the move."

He add that additional features such as the improved security features - such as the the ability to remotely wipe their devices of all data should it be lost or stolen had also proved to be attractive to users.

Rick Hudson, CEO at Star said in a statement. "We are seeing a very strong trend within our customer base to adopt new technologies as a managed service. At a time when all businesses are extremely cost conscious, the opportunity to get the latest Microsoft Exchange technology without the operational and financial risks as well as upfront investments in software and training is a very attractive proposition. We have seen demand accelerate in the first quarter of 2009 for our Microsoft Exchange service, Star Business Email, and indications show no sign of that letting up."