DESPITE mixed views from market watchers, Microsoft Corp remains bullish about its latest operating system, as it believes there is pent-up demand for Windows Vista's (Vista) technology and solutions.
In February, Mike Sievert, corporate vice-president for Windows Client marketing told attendees of a Merrill Lynch conference that the software giant expected 200 million new personal computers (PCs) to ship with the new operating system (OS) in the first two years.
Sievert, who was in Malaysia recently, maintains his expectations for Vista.
“Our market is so much larger now than five years ago when we introduced Windows XP (XP). We expect Windows Vista to be the fastest-adopted OS in our history,” he told StarBiz.
He acknowledged that the adoption rate of XP was slower that what the company would have liked it to be. This, he said, was because XP was introduced just one year after its predecessor Windows 2000.
“Windows 2000 was positioned as a major improvement for users of Windows NT and Windows 98 and XP came right on the heels of it. Many people perceived XP as a consumer oriented release when really, it had great benefits,” he said.
Sievert said the uptake for XP picked up after the release of Windows XP Service Pack 2.
“When we got to the fundamentals of what users was struggling with – things like security and reliability of the system – deployment of XP started to accelerate.
“This time we've had a longer gap and plenty of improvements to XP. It has been more than a decade since the Windows OS platform has undergone a revision of this magnitude,” he said.
Despite analyst comments that businesses were nervous about integrating Vista’s security features with legacy systems, Sievert assured that security was at the core of the new OS.
“Businesses are struggling with many issues, particularly safety and security of the computing environment from malware (malicious software) and protection of sensitive and confidential data,” he said.
He stressed that with Vista, security, stability and reliability had been the priority from the very beginning of the development cycle.
“For the past one and a half years we have had thousands of customers involved with us, some as beta testers and some on the technology adoption program.
“They have been able to put Vista's security features under hard trials in a variety of real world environments, different mix of business applications, network structures and hardware and this gives us a lot of confidence as we are weeks away from introducing Vista to the business community,” he said.
Another area of concern for businesses, according to Sievert, was the cost and complexity of managing networks of PCs.
He said Vista was developed to help organisations reduce the cost of deployment, management and support while offering users simplified ways of working, finding, using and sharing information.
“Deployment has traditionally been one of the biggest cost factors associated with owning and operating a network of PCs.
“We have introduced a new application compatibility toolkit much earlier in the development process to allow businesses to discover whether existing applications running on their networks were fully compatible with Vista,” he said.
In addition, Vista had been “componentised”, allowing administrators to set up components of Vista and deploy those settings to desktops throughout the network, Sievert said, adding that these features would dramatically reduce the complexity of the deployment cycle in a business environment.
Sievert said Vista contained more than 500 new group policy objects, which empowered businesses with greater control over their network set up.
“In the past, it was very hard to set group policies that provide users the flexibility they needed.
“Users have different needs – some need to install software, others attach devices. We have been able to overcome this paradox and offer users the flexibility they need with the new group policy manager in Vista,” he said.
He added that support in Vista had also been made more efficient. “One of the things we did was to enhance diagnostics throughout Vista.
“If something happens to a PC, administrators can collate the diagnostic data of the unit and find out what was happening at the time the PC started to experience problems.
“This real time information can be used to root out problems within the network and for other users before they run into it,” he said.
Last Wednesday, Microsoft declared Vista completed and set for release to manufacturing to PC and device manufacturers to finalise work on their products and applications.
Vista would be released to volume licence customers by end November, followed by worldwide availability on Jan 30, 2007.
Microsoft Malaysia will be hosting a preview of Vista, Microsoft Office 2007 and Microsoft Exchange 2007 for business and technical professionals tomorrow.