News has come through this week that the uptake of Vista is much higher than anyone might have expected, if a recent survey is to be believed.

According to the story, a survey has found that only 13 per cent of respondents had no plans to migrate their enterprise desktops to Vista. What’s more, more enterprise users are starting to evaluate and deploy Windows Vista, but they are showing more concern over perceived performance and patching improvements and the operating system's hardware requirements, finds the survey.

The research shows that 87 percent of 753 IT decision-maker respondents plan to adopt Vista eventually, with 13 per cent planning to start their implementations in the next year.

This is surprising because it contradicts both the findings we reported in a story just two weeks ago, and all discussions on the subject we’ve had in recent weeks with IT managers and with their suppliers.

In short, this report sticks out like a sore thumb.

Why so? Most observers have noted that Microsoft’s latest OS has few benefits for business.

Additionally, the survey found that 18 per cent of users said they would need to upgrade 91 per cent to 100 per cent of their Windows-based hardware for it to be Vista compatible, a two percent increase over an identical survey conducted six months ago. Also, concerns that the benefits of adopting Vista are not clear enough rose six per cent from 32 per cent to 38 per cent.

However, Vista does bring security enhancements – although most reviewers have reported that the OS’s over-zealous quizzing of users about whether to let the system install this or allow that are at least as likely to provoke an irritated click on the OK button as a considered response to the question being asked.

And security is the most cited reason by survey respondents for moving to Vista. One key feature is likely to be the ability for admins to extend user rights without compromising system security.

And Microsoft itself isn’t punting the OS as a business product. Instead, its marketing focuses on the eye candy -- or, as Microsoft puts it: "dramatic graphic enhancements to the interface that make the desktop more visually exciting and significantly easier to use."

So can security improvements alone account for the apparent increase in interest in Vista?

I’m tempted to compare this early adopter phase with the equivalent period following the launch of XP. However, that would be an apples and oranges job, since XP had clear business benefits compared to its predecessor and was marketed as such. Additionally, the gap between the launch of Windows 2000 and that of XP was fairly short, so the pent-up demand for a new OS was not as strong as it’s likely to be today.

But if you were to compare the XP and Vista post-launch periods, you’d probably find a similar burst of buying, largely from companies who postponed a refresh of their desktop systems pending the launch of a new OS. It’s likely to be even stronger today, since enterprise PC buying cycles have in many cases stretched to four or even five years.

This argument is buttressed by the survey’s finding that half the respondents are tying in hardware refreshes with migration to Vista, a figure that rises to 58 per cent for public sector respondents.

So in the same spirit that one swallow does not a summer make, I’d contend that the apparent upturn in enthusiasm for Vista is more apparent than real. I’d rather talk to the IT managers planning to migrate to Vista first to get a clearer notion of their motivations.

When that happens, I’ll let you know.