Microsoft finally launches Vista

Thursday, November 30th, 2006

After problem-filled five years, new computer operating system goes on sale

Gillian Shaw

Windows Vista is the culmination of an unprecedented development program and the biggest thing for Microsoft since Windows 95. Photograph by : AFP, Getty Images

After five years and numerous delays, Microsoft’s long-awaited “Vista” operating system is launching for businesses today, with the consumer version slated to follow on Jan. 30.

As the culmination of development and testing unprecedented in scale, the software giant is staging a massive kickoff for Windows Vista and for updates to its core business products Office 2007 and Exchange Server 2007.

“For us it is by far the biggest thing we have done since 1995m when we launched Windows 95,” said Jill Schoolenberg, general manager of Windows for Microsoft Canada, which will be holding a launch event in Toronto while Microsoft’s chief executive Steve Ballmer and other company executives will be celebrating at the Nasdaq Stock Exchange.

Unique to this launch is the level of testing and feedback that went into the creation of Vista and the business software updates, with more than five million beta versions distributed around the world.

Microsoft tallied one billion user sessions — that is one billion sessions in which the company sat down and worked customers through the product — in the lead-up to today’s launch.

“It is completely unprecedented for the industry,” Schoolenberg said.

Nearly $7 billion US went into the development of Vista, which had its start before the company made a significant upgrade to its XP operating system in 2004. While Microsoft has a lot at stake in the new releases, with Vista and Office accounting for about 90 per cent of the company’s profits, analysts don’t expect to see an immediate shift among business users to the new software.

Consumers, though, are expected to embrace the new operating system, with Microsoft mitigating the missing of the Christmas computer sales market with a promise of a Vista upgrade for Christmas buyers.

In its predictions issued Wednesday, market forecasters IDC projected the number of the new operating systems will hit 90 million units in the coming year, led by strong demand on the consumer side. IDC projected Windows Vista Home products will account for 90 per cent of the new Windows operating systems used by home users. By comparison, Windows Vista Business and Windows Vista Enterprise are expected to account for 35 per cent of the new Windows operating environments among business users.

“After a long wait, the adoption of Windows Vista will take place almost immediately among consumers, while businesses will follow a decidedly more conservative adoption curve,” Al Gillen, research vice-president for system software at IDC said in a release.

Borrowing from Apple’s keen attention to ease of use, the new Vista has seen an improvement in graphics and presentation, as well as in search capabilities. Security is a huge issue, both for business and home users, and it is one that Microsoft, with its history of security vulnerabilities and patches, has promised to deliver.

Security also receives special attention in the new Office software as businesses and corporations face regulatory and compliance issues, coupled with growing cyber and other threats.

© The Vancouver Sun 2006


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