Microsoft Counts on App Support for Vista

Microsoft claims many ISVs are on board, but hardware compatibility is still an issue.

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 anti-virus vendors involved early in the design program, said Dave Wascha, director of Microsofts Vista partner program, in an interview. "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."

However, application support is only part of the corporate adoption picture. A study of 112,113 business PCs from 472 North American companies conducted by Softchoice, in Toronto, found that about half currently meet the minimum requirements for Vista and that only 6 percent meet the minimum requirements for Vista Premium.

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"At the time of release, 71 percent of the PCs met the system requirements for Windows XP, whereas only 50 percent of the PCs included in this study meet the minimum requirements to run Windows Vista. This difference suggests that a jump in system requirements to run Vista presents a significant barrier to adoption," Softchoice services consultant Dean Williams said in an executive summary of the report.

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


The effort apparently worked, since most of the major security software vendors—including Symantec, CA, Trend Micro and Sophos—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.

Symantec announced it will release its Symantec AntiVirus Corporate Edition 10.2 for Vista in December 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 said that Symantec Mail Security 8300 Series and Symantec Enterprise Vault will provide messaging management services for customers migrating to Microsoft Exchange Server 2007, which also launched Nov. 30.

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Autodesk, producer of CAD applications, worked with Microsoft to learn how to build into its products the new XPS (XML Paper Specification) technology that was 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.

In all, Microsoft expects that ISVs will ship more than 1,000 Vista applications between now 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. Cherry questioned 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, Cherry said, is whether it "can exploit the Windows presentation framework and the communications framework." Native Vista applications should also take advantage of .Net Framework 3.0, Cherry said.

Next Page: Hurdles to Vista adoption.