Fewer businesses are now planning to move to Windows Vista than seven months ago, according to a survey by patch management vendor PatchLink.

In a just-released poll of more than 250 of its clients, PatchLink noted that only 2 percent said they are already running Vista, while another 9 percent said they planned to roll out Vista in the next three months. A landslide majority, 87 percent, said they would stay with their existing version(s) of Windows. Some now say they will either stick with the Windows they have, or turn to Linux or Mac OS X.

Those numbers contrasted with a similar survey by the company published in December 2006. At the time, 43 percent said they had plans to move to Vista while just 53 percent planned to keep what Windows they had.

Today's hesitation also runs counter to what companies thought they would do as of late last year. In PatchLink's December poll, 28 percent said they would deploy Vista within the first year of its release. But by the results of the latest survey, fewer than half as many - just 11 percent - will have opted for the next-generation operating system by November 1.

Their change of heart may be because of a changed perception of Vista's security skills. Seven months ago - within weeks of Vista's official launch to business, but before the operating system started selling in retail - 50 percent of the CIOs, CSOs, IT and network administrators surveyed by PatchLink said they believed Vista to be more secure than Windows XP. The poll put the security sceptical at 15 percent and pegged those who weren't sure yet at 35 percent.

Today, said PatchLink, only 28 percent agreed that Vista is more secure than XP. Meanwhile, the no votes increased to 24 percent and the unsure climbed to 49 percent.

Reconsiderations about Vista have given rival operating systems a second chance at breaking into corporations. Last year, Linux and Max OS X had only meagre appeal to the CIOs, CSOs, IT and network administrators surveyed: 2 percent said they planned to deploy the open-source Linux, while none owned up to Mac OS X plans.

July's survey, however, noted a six-fold increase in the total willing to do without Windows on at least some systems: 8 percent of those polled acknowledged Linux plans and 4 percent said they would deploy Mac OS X.

PatchLink's survey results fit with research firms' continued forecasts that corporate deployment of Vista won't seriously begin until early next year. Although Microsoft recently announced it had shipped 60 million copies of Vista so far, it has declined to specify how many buyers are businesses, or even what percentage of the estimated 42 million PCs covered by corporate license agreements have actually upgraded to Vista.