Canadian businesses get a glimpse of Vista


The Canadian launch of Microsoft Corp.’s three newest products – its operating system Windows Vista, Office 2007 and Exchange Server 2007 – kicked off in Toronto yesterday, but don’t expect to be able to get these products off the shelf yet.

In what Microsoft Canada president Phil Sorgen called the “biggest launch in the history of Microsoft,” yesterday’s event was simply a signal to business customers that they can begin to purchase Vista and Office 2007 through Microsoft’ volume licensing program.

While customers may begin ordering Exchange Server 2007, the software will not be released to manufacturing until the end of December.

Vista and Office 2007 will be generally available from retailers on January 30, 2007.

Sorgen will lead the Canadian team of the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant in an 11-city countrywide tour where some 20,000 Microsoft customers will be attending as part of the Vista/Office 2007/Exchange 2007 launch.

“We are expecting [Vista to be] the most quickly adopted (among our previous operating systems,” said Jill Schoolenberg, director, Windows Client at Microsoft Canada.

She added the uptake would be partly driven by the impending phenomenon of retiring baby boomers, leaving organizations struggling with the risk of losing many years of corporate knowledge to retirement.

There’s a potential knowledge drain that is threatening to affect the future productivity of the enterprise, Sorgen said in his keynote address. “Organizations are turning to software…to guard and share the value of intellectual property (in the business environment).”

To date, five million users have downloaded the beta version of Windows Vista.

One Canadian IT executive, however, is not immediately buying into the Vista hype.

“Microsoft has always tended to glorify the operating system, but for us (as technology users) more important are the applications that run on top of it,” said Mark Bonner, director of IT at Toronto-based law firm Goodman and Carr LLP.

Bonner’s IT team has tested Vista as well as Office 2007 and is familiar with their new features and functionalities. While Bonner admits Vista offers a better experience on the user interface side, he doesn’t see the need for his company to migrate to the new operating system, saying its current Windows XP environment “satisfies most of our needs.”

One big concern with Vista migration is third-party application compatibility, Bonner said. Customers, he said, are going to be worried about the ability of their third-party applications to run properly on Vista. “In a law firm like ours, we have so many applications running so we are concerned about testing those (on Vista) and we may take a while to trust [Vista].”

In addition, the transition from XP to Vista is very different from when XP was introduced in 2001 to replace Windows 2000, as “there was more of a reason to do it then,” said Bonner.

Info-Tech Research analyst Nauman Haque agreed with Bonner saying many enterprise customers will be taking a wait-and-see approach to Vista adoption, allowing them time to test third-party applications on Vista as well as develop a training and migration plan.

The issue on Vista’s software protection platform, which some refer to as the Vista “kill switch”, may also be inhibiting adoption. It essentially prescribes the activation requirements for installing Vista, causing the OS to run on reduced-functionality mode if some of these activation requirements are not fulfilled, explained Haque.

“That’s obviously a concern and people are just going to want to wait and see how that (issue) pans out,” said the Info-Tech analyst.

Bonner, however, credited the new operating system for its improved security features such as the Windows BitLocker Drive Encryption, saying the increased security in Vista can be a driver for Vista adoption, especially for organizations that deploy mobile devices and need to secure the data on those machines.

In addition to the drive encryption feature, Vista also offers other security functionalities such as the User Account Control, personal firewall and firewall management and the Microsoft Network Access Protection with Internet protocol security (IPsec). COMMENT ON THIS ARTICLE

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