Vista, Office 2007 Debut for Businesses

Microsoft's oft-maligned and much-delayed next-generation operating system is no longer just a talking point for the Redmond company, it's now a reality - at least for businesses.

At an event at the NASDAQ MarketSite in New York City, CEO Steve Ballmer announced the business availability of Windows Vista, Office 2007, and Exchange Server 2007. In addition, several other business-centric applications were also launched on Thursday.

The simultaneous release of Office 2007 and Vista mark the first time in 11 years that the company's two flagship products were released at the same time. Then, Windows 95 and Office 95 were released in what is widely considered the Redmond company's most successful launch ever.

In his statements to the press, Ballmer pointed to the collaboration between Microsoft and its customers in helping to develop the latest versions of the company's products. Of the company's three signature business products, beta versions were downloaded over five million times.

“It’s an incredible step forward for business computing in a year of unprecedented innovation from Microsoft," Ballmer said. "We expect that more than 200 million people will be using at least one of these products by the end of 2007.”

Microsoft highlighted the extensive support for XML as another "game-changer" for the industry, much like TCP/IP support in Windows 95 that helped to spur the popularity of the Internet, and Windows XP's support for wireless networking did the same for that industry.

The 30-some products introduced Thursday make up Microsoft's vision for the "People-Ready Business," an initiative that the company has been championing over the past year.

"These products will enable companies to unleash the full potential of their people to build profitable relationships with customers, spearhead new innovations and drive business success,” Ballmer said.

Analysts such as JupiterResearch's Michael Gartenberg say there is no reason for businesses to wait to deploy. In the past, he has recommended waiting for the first service pack, however he has changed his tune for Vista.

"I don’t think that’s warranted this time around. I’ve been using every version of this OS, from early Longhorn builds all the way to RTM and so far, it’s been secure, rock solid and works well once you get used to the new UI," he said.

In related news, both HP and Dell also said Thursday that they were prepared to offer products and support to accompany the launch of Vista, Office, Exchange and the other business products.

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