Microsoft's costly Vista licensing tariffs for business and enterprise users has sparked business users to look to alternate operating systems - meaning Apple could become a more viable option for businesses.

At least one UK firm - property management company Capital and Regional - is looking at moving to Mac OS X or Linux computers to reduce its dependency on Microsoft's offerings.

Capital and Regional hosts 700 Windows machines, but the firm's chief information officer Richard Snooks has berated Microsoft over the price of upgrading to Vista.

"We are feeling the pinch of the aggressive revenue targets of Microsoft," Snooks said. "We are asking ourselves, 'Are they (Microsoft) fit for our business?’" he told

He observes that Microsoft is forcing its users to upgrade to Vista, and argues that firms like his own have a "collective responsibility" to reduce the software firm's market dominance.

"If I am being driven down the Vista route, then an Apple Mac is smarter money and cheaper," he said.