Vista, Word, Longhorn Betas Debut at WinHEC

Bill Gates says Microsoft has achieved a major milestone by releasing beta versions of three major products, Windows Vista, Office System 2007 and Windows Server Longhorn, at the same time.

SEATTLE—Microsoft is going for the beta hat trick, said Bill Gates, Microsofts chairman and chief software architect.

The software giant on May 23 delivered Beta 2 versions of its Windows Vista operating system, Office System 2007 and Windows Server Longhorn at the same time.

The scheduled 2007 arrival of the three products, now in beta, means that 2007 is shaping up to be one of the most important periods in some years for Microsoft, and by extension, the PC industry.

But by delivering all three betas simultaneously, Microsoft is also setting out to prove that the trio is also more tightly coupled than before when it comes to security and productivity features, including search and document sharing.

"Today is a milestone for us in terms of the huge investment and the innovation thats going on in the next version of Windows and the complementary products," Gates said in a keynote address that kicked off the WinHEC conference.

"You could say these are the most important Microsoft products. Weve never had these synchronized this way before," he said. However, "each of these is a very important product, and they all fit within some common themes of what were doing…"

/zimages/5/28571.gifRead more here about Microsofts beta-fest.

Among those key themes are search, including being able to locate data stored on both locally on a PC and on a back-end server simultaneously, then viewing it and accessing it or adding it to new work such as presentations—as well as collaboration between individuals, backup and security, Gates said.

"Weve very proud of the progress weve made facing down these problems" with security, he said.

Meanwhile, "Storage and backup…. Thats a scenario that we made sure crossed all the work on these products. Every one of these products has things that bring their extensibility to a whole new level. So were really trying to bring it together for customers."

Microsoft is working to improve Windows Vista and Windows Longhorn Server by adding numerous features, including beefed-up search, sleeker user interfaces, as well as collaboration and, on the server side, virtualization, said Gates and several Microsoft executives who accompanied him, in the keynote.

/zimages/5/128936.gifTo listen to discussions of the "Beta Bonanza" as well as a roundup of top stories and commentary on eWEEKs Podcast page, click here.

For business users, Microsoft will beef up security by offering PC hard drive encryption via a feature it calls BitLocker.

BitLocker encrypts data stored on a hard drive, keeping that data safer even if the PC the drive is part of is stolen, company executives said.

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