Indian software services vendor Infosys Technologies Ltd has emerged as one of the largest users worldwide of Microsoft Corp.’s Windows Vista operating system, even as deployment of the latest offering from the Redmond, Seattle-headed software giant has had a slower pickup

Bigger bytes: Different versions of Windows Vista software on display. A spokesperson for Microsoft’s India unit said TCS and Satyam are expected to top 10,000 Vista deployments by June next year.

Infosys is set to take up the number of Vista-enabled computers to 20,000 by June 2008 from the current 4,500.

The Bangalore-based company declined to comment because it is in its “quiet period" ahead of reporting its July-September quarterly financial results, scheduled for the second week of October.

India is the world’s fastest growing market for technology products, including software. Business customers such as Infosys, account for two-thirds of software and hardware purchases in India.

While Microsoft wouldn’t disclose names of other global firms that are leading Vista adopters, reports in trade publications, such as CNet News, have said Citigroup, Continental Airlines and Charter Communications in the US plan to have 10,000 Vista computers through June, which is Microsoft’s fiscal year-end.

According to a February case study prepared by Microsoft, Infosys has around 65,000 computers, 80% of which are desktops and the rest portable computers. Close to 90% of the desktop units run on Windows XP, the older version of Microsoft’s line of operating system.

A spokesperson for Microsoft’s India unit did say that Tata Consultancy Services Ltd, the country’s biggest software services firm, and Satyam Computer Services Ltd are also expected to top 10,000 Vista deployments by June next year.

Windows Vista was launched for business customers in November and, since then, has sold more than 600,000 licences in India. It was not immediately clear whether these included upgrades from Windows XP or not.

“Businesses and consumers are adopting it at a good pace. In India, we have seen great momentum for Vista with our key customers here being Infosys, TCS, Satyam and L&T Infotech," wrote Rishi Srivastava, director, Windows client business group, at Microsoft India, in an email.

On 4 May, Mint ran a report based on a series of interviews with chief information officers at Indian companies on the slow roll-out of Vista among business customers in the country.

An analyst said that although adoption of Vista by large business customers has picked up, it is not as fast as expected.

“Real enterprise adoption of the Windows Vista will happen from the first quarter of 2008, when the small and medium businesses will have passed the wait-and-watch and the experiment stage," said Diptarup Chakraborti, principal analyst at research firm Gartner Inc.’s Mumbai offices. “Currently, it is mostly the large enterprises who are switching to Vista because they cannot afford to lag in terms of being up to date with their technologies."

Chakraborti predicted a faster adoption of Vista in India since users here do not have old, legacy systems as in more developed markets. In countries such as the US, “because penetration levels are high, new PC sales are lower compared to replacement PCs. In India, more new machines are sold than replacement PCs and so the deployment of new technologies such as Vista will be faster than the developed world," he said.

Gartner estimates that around 8.7 million PCs will be sold in India by the end of this calendar year, of which 5.6 million will be new PCs and 3.1 million replacements. Microsoft said around 60% of the new PCs sold in India are loaded with Vista.