Thursday, November 02, 2006

Windows Vista Arriving on November 30th

by Tim Gray

The November 30 launch date for Windows Vista is Microsoft's way of giving businesses a head start in their Vista upgrade plans. Windows Vista for consumers will not be available until January 2007, although Microsoft has not announced a formal release date as of yet.
After several years of delays and false starts, Microsoft is finally gearing up for the big launch of Windows Vista and Office 2007 for businesses on November 30 at an event in New York.
Business customers with either an enterprise license or a software assurance contract are scheduled to get the first look at the final versions of the long-awaited programs during Microsoft event held at New York's Nasdaq stock exchange. Corporate users will have access to the applications early to allow them to test the programs before rolling them out.

The Big Picture
Although Microsoft has not set a formal rollout date for the retail versions of Windows Vista, Simon Yates, an analyst with Forrester Research, said the date of the business launch signals that Microsoft is on track to release Vista to consumers in January 2007. "It says a lot that they are confident to deliver the business version at the end of the month after years slipping and delays," Yates said.
Both Vista and Office had originally been scheduled to arrive on store shelves and on new PCs in time for this year's holiday season. But in March, the software giant pushed back the debut of the consumer versions until January. At the time, the company said it couldn't meet the schedule required by some PC manufacturers and others in the industry.
"Clearly, retailers are bummed out they didn't have it in time for Christmas," said Laura DiDio, an analyst with the Yankee Group. "But most users don't care; it is not like 1995 when people were lining up at midnight." DiDio, who has been testing the beta versions of Vista as they have rolled out, said there are some "very good improvements" in Windows Vista, but she also said the operating system is more evolutionary than revolutionary. She said the Vista interface looks good and has a faster search engine. "The whole environment has changed from 10 years ago," she said. "It better have, because we have waited so long for it."

Company Updates
According to Forrester's research, one-fourth of larger companies (1,000 or more employees) will deploy Vista within the first year of its release, and another one-fourth expect to do the same within two years of the release. "From that standpoint, there will be gradual replacements for the new hardware requirements," said Forrester's Yates.
While Microsoft fell short of getting Vista out to the masses for the 2006 holiday season, Yates noted, the release of the business version is a positive step toward finally getting the retail version out of the gate.
Windows is, by far, Microsoft's most profitable product. Some experts expect Windows Vista will be Microsoft's last major rollout before the operating system begins migrating to a Web-based format. "The software has become bloated and difficult to manage, constantly needing patches and fixes," said Yates. "You will always need some applications on local machines but we are now moving toward having the programs sit on the back end of servers somewhere."
Office 2007 is slated to have retail prices of between $149 for the student edition and $679 for an "ultimate" package. Vista will sell for $200 to $400 for new customers, and $100 to $260 for users who want to upgrade from Windows XP.