Vista, Office 12 to Come in Premium Versions

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2005-08-08 Print this article Print

Microsoft is working on new versions of Windows and Office, including an enterprise version of the upcoming Windows Vista and a premium version of Office 12.

Microsoft Corp. is working on new versions of Windows and Office, including an enterprise version of the upcoming Windows Vista and a premium version of Office 12.

Microsoft officials remain tight-lipped about details, but they said both products are still in development. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told analysts at a meeting here last week that these new versions will cost more than standard Windows and Office offerings and will help drive growth.

A Premium CAL (Client Access License) for both Windows and Office will debut with the new versions, and Ballmer said Microsoft has work to do to convince customers that the extra cost is justified.

"This is premium value at a premium price," he said. "We have to continue to enhance and upgrade that value to drive upgrades."

Bill Gates, Microsofts chairman and chief software architect, said substantial innovation went into the base version of Windows Vista to ensure that Windows keeps its high market share. Microsoft now believes it has enough extra features to create an expanded product, much the way Windows XP Professional was created, according to Gates.

Microsoft may be fighting an uphill battle, as many customers are already questioning the value of yet another Windows upgrade. "From what I have seen and heard so far, there is nothing compelling enough to convince me to upgrade to Windows Vista Professional, never mind an even-more-expensive version. Im far from convinced about that strategy," said one enterprise IT manager.

David Coursey thinks that Microsoft has yet to convince us that Longhorn is something users really need or want. Click here to read more. In addition, Microsoft is looking to bolster its Office product line, particularly the lines SharePoint and Exchange components. The company hopes that the workflow rights management and document life-cycle capabilities in SharePoint "eventually will become common sense so that businesses will build their business applications and all their information—visualization and sharing activities—around that," Gates said.

Al Gillen, an analyst for IDC, in Framingham, Mass., said it is unclear what Microsoft will include in the Premium CAL. But whatever it comes up with will have to be more favorably priced than if users were to buy an individual CAL for each server product.

"Microsoft clearly is hoping that Office applications on the server will become pervasive in the enterprise space and that those users will be willing to pay a CAL for each of their desktop users to access them," Gillen said.

In addition to the premium versions, Microsoft is at work on a number of other server offerings. The company is rumored to be working on several new Office 12 components, including Excel and InfoPath servers, but officials have so far declined to confirm this.

Check out eWEEK.coms for Microsoft and Windows news, views and analysis.
Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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