Microsoft Releases Vista to Businesses

Touting its new stable of software products as “game-changing,” Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer officially launched Windows Vista for business customers today, marking the new operating systems’ first availability as an officially released product. While consumers will have to wait until the end of January to set hands on Microsoft’s latest-and-greatest, volume licensing customers can set hands on the product beginning today.

Dubbing the Vista launch “the most significant product launch in company history,” Ballmer also touted Office 2007, Exchange Server 2007, and other flagship Microsoft products. “Industry analysts expect these products to represent more than $250 billion in partner revenue opportunity in the next 12 months,” Ballmer said. “No set of product releases in history has ever offered this level of opportunity for the industry as a whole.”

Ballmer also made the interesting claim that, by the end of 2007, the company expects more than 200 million people will be using at least one of the products launched today.

Microsoft is releasing Vista to business customers before consumers to give volume licensers, enterprises, and large installations a chance to evaluate Vista and integrated it into their broader IT infrastructure without creating the sort of ground-shaking chaos a simultaneous release to business and consumer markets might entail. Nonetheless, many analysts foresee that a significant number of businesses and institutions will put off upgrading to Vista for some time—lags of 12 to 18 months are often cited—as they seem to wring value out of existing Windows installation and hardware investments. In many cases, upgrading to Windows Vista will mean upgrading desktop and server hardware in addition to the operating system; also, in many cases businesses (and consumers) will have to wait for developers to release Vista-savvy version of key applications and (particularly) device drivers before they can consider upgrading.

In the meantime, expect Microsoft to start preparing the advertising—television, radio, print, online, singage, and maybe even forehead tatoos—for January’s launch of Vista to the consumer marketplace…because nothing will drive business’s demand for Vista like their employees pestering for it.

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