A new survey shows that 17 per cent of IT pros are planning for Windows Server 2008 upgrades and that 63 per cent expect to eventually adopt the server.

The Windows Server 2008 Tracking Poll, conducted by Walker Information for IT services and product supplier CDW, also showed that security, setup/configuration improvements and virtualisation were key benefits identified by the 772 IT respondents from small business, medium/large businesses, state/local governments, higher education and primary school education.

The key concerns among respondents were typical for a new operating system from Microsoft with bugs (48%), application compatibility (41%) and hardware compatibility (28%) topping the list.

"As with Vista, we think people will go through a rigorous process of evaluation and follow a very methodical path," said David Cottingham, director of product and partner management at CDW. "A server operating system is at the core and has some even greater critical components than a desktop operating system."

Cottingham said the Windows Server 2008 Tracking Poll may be the first in a series. The company tracked attitudes toward Vista in three separate surveys beginning in November 2006 and ending in January 2008.

Microsoft plans to ship Windows Server 2008, which has been five years in development, to volume licensing customers on 27 February. That day, Microsoft is hosting a launch event in Los Angeles that also includes Visual Studio 2008 (shipped November 2007) and SQL Server 2008 (slated to ship before 30 June, 2008).

The release comes on the heels of the one-year anniversary of the launch of Windows Vista, which is built on the same code base as Windows Server 2008. The two can be paired up on certain technologies, most notably Network Access Protection.

The survey, however, showed that 66 per cent of respondents see no link between their Vista and Windows Server 2008 upgrades. Of those that did see a link, 22 per cent said they will upgrade Vista first and six per cent said they would migrate to the server first.

The survey was conducted when Windows Server 2008 Beta 3 and the RC0 versions were available for evaluation.

The survey also found that virtualisation is a hot topic and that users are not waiting for Microsoft. The survey shows that 62 per cent of respondents have already implemented server virtualisation (35%), are evaluating the opportunity (18%) or making plans to implement within the next 12 months (9%).

That means many are already running VMware, Xen or other virtualisation platforms that will compete with Microsoft's Hyper-V technology, which is slated to ship within 180 days of Windows Server 2008.

State and local governments (48%) and higher education (49%) are the most interested in virtualisation, according to the survey.

Survey respondents listed security (49%) as the top benefit followed by 41 per cent for faster setup and configuration, and 35 per cent for the virtualisation that will eventually be added to Windows Server 2008.

The survey showed the users most resistant to Windows Server 2008 upgrades were in the business segments. A solid 59 per cent do not plan to upgrade in the foreseeable future and only five per cent have rollout plans in place.

In addition, the medium/large business segment, those companies with more than 100 employees, showed a preference for Windows Server 2003.

CDW conducted the survey between 31 October and 7 November, 2007.