Microsoft could find Windows 7 harder to sell to reluctant UK IT managers than it thinks. According to a survey of high-level staff, less than half see the new OS being installed on company laptops in the next 18 months.

The survey by security giant Check Point only questioned 135 staff, but they were drawn from a senior level of technical management at apparently significant public sector and private organisations across the country, the sort of people who will decide how much is spent on software, and how fast.

Only 32 percent said they would put Windows 7 on laptops within the next 12 months, with 17 percent saying they would do so within 18 months. Fifty percent said they had no plans to embrace the OS at all for their mobile fleet.

Being a security company, Check Point's motivation was to find out how Windows 7 uptake might affect buying intentions for the types of product the company sells. The answer appears to be not very much at all. Only 15 percent of those upgrading seemed interested in new security applications, 38 percent planned to upgrade only what they already had, with 8 percent saying they planned to use a integrated suite for all security functions. Nearly a third had no plans at all.

Check Point downplays it in their survey, but eight percent were readying to abandon paid-for anti-malware software altogether by using Microsoft's Security Essentials, a free product that as yet lacks a management system.

Another interesting stat was the attitude towards encryption, with only 41 percent admitting to using any form of encryption in their laptop fleet. That sounds high until you consider that nearly two thirds have yet to invest a penny to secure confidential data on insecure mobile PCs. To put this into perspective, 72 percent had added software to enable VPN access, obviously still seen as a more important application.

"It's very surprising that the losses, thefts and malware outbreaks suffered by organisations over the past two years have had such little impact on the way UK organisations secure laptop PCs," said Check Point's Northern European head, Nick Lowe. "These machines are the most vulnerable point in a business' IT set-up, and yet they remain largely unsecured."

It doesn't look as if Windows 7, which comes with BitLocker encryption as standard, will make much difference to that element of security either. The message if one can be drawn from such an informal survey is a statement of the obvious: operating systems don't on their own drive what most companies do with the money they have to spend on software. They upgrade because it's time to upgrade, but hold off as long as possible.

"Windows 7 deployment isn't going to be as fast as Microsoft would like," concluded Lowe.