Microsoft Counts on Partners Vista Apps

Microsoft started working early with ISVs to make sure that a diverse set of Vista applications would be available soon after it delivered the operating system upgrade, but analysts question how many apps are truly new.

Microsoft has taken pains to demonstrate that Windows Vista will have ample application support, particularly in the fields of anti-virus and security, so as to give businesses more incentive to upgrade to the latest version of Windows.

The Vista development team made a special effort to get the anti-virus vendors involved early in the design program, Dave Wascha, director of Microsofts Vista partner program, said in an interview Nov. 29.

"We spent a significant amount of time with those partners making sure that their products are ready to go," Wascha said. "We know [security] is one of the key mission-critical applications without which enterprises wont move forward with [Vista] deployments," he said.

Microsoft made sure that Vista developers and designers met with ISVs of every application type early and often to answer their questions and to hear the ISVs views on what should be high-priority goals for Vista features and performance, Wascha said.

The effort apparently worked, because most of the major security software vendors, including Symantec, CA, Trend Micro and Sophos all greeted the Nov. 30 Vista launch with announcements that they were either getting ready to ship Vista versions of their products or developing and testing these products.

/zimages/4/28571.gifClick here to read about why Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer says Vista will launch a new "wave of innovation."

Symantec, of Cupertino, Calif., announced that it would release in December its Symantec AntiVirus Corporate Edition 10.2 for Vista and that its AntiVirus Enterprise Edition 10.2 now includes Symantec Client Security 3.1, to provide anti-virus and anti-spyware protection for Vista clients.

The company also announced that Symantec Mail Security 8300 Series and Symantec Enterprise Vault would provide messaging management services for customers migrating to Microsoft Exchange Server 2007, which was also rolled out Nov. 30.

Autodesk, the producer of CAD applications, worked closely with Microsoft to learn how to build into its products the new "XML Paper Specification" [XPS] technology that is being introduced with Vista.

XPS is an XML-based document format that allows many types of documents to be shared and read by users regardless of whether the application that was used to create the document is installed on their computer.

The potential value of this technology to customers was a major reason that Autodesk worked with Microsoft as an early support partner, said Amar Hanspal, vice president of collaboration and solutions for Autodesk, in San Raphael, Calif.

Autodesk is building XPS into the next editions of its design products that are due for release this spring, Hanspal said. Sharing and distributing documents, especially highly detailed and graphic material such as CAD files, has always been difficult, he said, even after the advent of Adobes Acrobat document format.

"The dominant way to share information for a long time has been non-digital: It has been paper- or analog-based, " he said.

/zimages/4/28571.gifTo read more about how PC makers are ready to roll out Vista options, click here.

People use Autodesks design software to "create these gorgeous models and very precise manufacturing assemblies and then when the time comes time to turn those into instructions" that will allow craftsmen to cut metal or pour concrete. "It always goes into some kind of paper thing, and paper becomes a very inefficient way of sharing information," Hanspal said.

In all, Microsoft expects that ISVs will ship more than 1,000 Vista applications between December 2006 and April 2007, Wascha said.

As Microsoft partners, "part of the commitment that they make is that they are targeting a Windows Vista-specific version of their products, and that they are going to launch generally around the time that we are going to launch Vista," Wascha said.

However, customers should take this claim of 1,000 available Vista applications with a grain of salt, said Mike Cherry, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft in Kirkland, Wash. He said he questions whether even a majority of what Microsoft is claiming as "Vista applications" were developed specifically for Vista, rather than simply being products that currently run on Windows XP and that also are capable of running on Vista.

A good measure of an applications Vista pedigree, he said, was whether it "can exploit the Windows presentation framework and the communications framework." Native Vista applications should also take advantage of the .Net Framework 3.0.

Next Page: What it will take to get enterprises to upgrade.

John Pallatto

John Pallatto

John Pallatto has been editor in chief of QuinStreet Inc.'s eWEEK.com since October 2012. He has more than 40 years of experience as a professional journalist working at a daily newspaper and...