Ballmer: Vista to Spur Wave of Innovation

Microsoft's CEO calls the release of Windows Vista, Office 2007 and Exchange 2007 for businesses the most significant in the company's history.

NEW YORK—The launch of Windows Vista, Office 2007 and Exchange 2007 for businesses is the most significant release of the flagship products in Microsofts history, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said Nov. 30.

In a media keynote at the Nasdaq Stock Exchange here to officially announce the business launch and availability of the products to volume-license customers, Ballmer said Windows Vista will usher in a wave of innovation.

This includes new products like SharePoint Server 2007 and Exchange Server 2007, he said, adding that the new enterprise versions of both Vista and Office 2007 bring new capabilities such as enterprise services for Exchange and SharePoint.

"But a new set of applications are also being brought to market and enabled by the core innovations in Office 2007 and Vista. Some 30 new products will come to market over time on the back of this wave of innovation," Ballmer said.

Included in that wave of products are Unified Messaging Services for Exchange, Exchange Hosted Services, Forefront Security for Exchange and Forefront Security for SharePoint.

/zimages/2/28571.gifCustomer upgrades to the new products may not happen as quickly as Microsoft would like. Click here to read more.

Also coming down the road is Office Communicator 2007, Office Communications Server 2007, Voice Call Management for Office Communications Server 2007, Office Performance Point Sever 2007, data mining add-ins for Office 2007, the Windows Desktop Optimization Pack, Forefront Client Security, System Center Configuration Manager and client, and System Center Operations Manager and client, he said.

"I am happy to finally be here, and thats all Im going to say about the past," Ballmer said, referring to the fact that Vista has taken five years to bring to market.

Looking forward, Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft is concentrating on service enablement inside of Windows. "That is a big theme and you can expect to see a lot more services enablement going forward," Ballmer said.

Microsoft has also learned that new technologies need time to incubate before being introduced into the product, like those that had been dropped earlier in Vista development. They need to be allowed to come to market first and then be integrated into products, he said.

Asked about the timeline for Vista service packs, Ballmer quipped that as it is the highest-quality, most secure and reliable Windows operating system ever, there should be no need for a service pack.

He added that the company is getting, and will continue to get, feedback from customers and that will determine the schedule for service packs.

/zimages/2/28571.gifClick here to read eWEEK Labs review of Vista.

Each of the new products made available Nov. 30 has found new ground in a variety of ways, he said, before explaining that Microsoft started with a world view of whats going on in business and what the critical needs were at the outset of the product development process.

"The motivation for these was that the world is changing and organizations are more transparent and distributed than ever before, while IT needs to extend across company boundaries and geographies. People are also clearly suffering from information overload," Ballmer said.


People also wanted to be in control of their information and lives, he said, which is the basis for Microsofts People Ready Business, which recognizes that people are the top asset.

As such, every version of Windows and Office has to make users more productive and improve their experience. "These new products are phenomenal upgrades to our personal productivity tools," Ballmer said.

Windows Mobile is not being changed at this time, but it remains an important part of the customer experience with the Microsoft suite of products, Ballmer said.

Windows Mobile upgrades will be done about once a year and the timing is contingent on the certification process for the software with the associated hardware, he said, adding that while Microsoft has just finished a Windows Mobile release, it will take some time to get to market.

Ballmer said that in the past, customers had expressed concerns that their users were not taking advantage of the full feature set in Office, but the new user interface and its ribbon in Office 2007 is changing that. Early adopters are saying that the new user interface lets them take control and get fuller value out of the feature set, Ballmer said.

The search and ribbon experience will be carried over by companies in the services and applications they offer based on them, he noted.

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