Less than a month before Microsoft is set to complete development of Windows Vista, the company is predicting that businesses will adopt the new OS twice as quickly as they did Vista's predecessor, Windows XP. This prediction stands in sharp contrast to the opinions of most IT analysts, who warn that businesses will move quite slowly to Vista.

"Our goal is to have twice as fast deployment of Vista than for any other operating system," said Microsoft General Manager Brad Goldberg. "Vista is built for businesses."

To meet Microsoft's publicly stated goals, Vista will have to be deployed on 20 percent of business desktops by November 2007. (XP reached about 10 percent of business desktops after one year on the market.) The 20 percent goal seems lofty, given the relatively staid pace at which corporations typically upgrade. But the migration to XP went much more slowly than expected because Microsoft released XP so quickly after Windows 2000. Businesses have now been waiting an unprecedented five years for a major Windows release. The demand, according to Microsoft, is there.

Analysts disagree. Both IDC and Gartner expect Vista adoption by businesses to be in the 10 to 11 percent range in the first year, basically identical to XP's adoption. The reason? Corporations upgrade on their own schedules and aren't beholden to Microsoft's schedule. There are also fears that compatibility problems and training costs will balance out any security and deployment benefits that Vista brings.

Regardless of corporate adoption, however, Vista's sales outlook appears healthy. The OS will be installed on more than 100 million new PCs next year alone, and one might expect similar sales each year after that. Jim Allchin, co-president of Microsoft's Platforms and Services Division, recently wrote an open letter to developers in which he noted that "some 200 million people will be using Windows Vista within the first 24 months of launch."