The new client Windows operating system and Office client and server applications have been promised for volume business customers by year's end and for consumers by early 2007.
Jeff Raikes, president of the Microsoft Business Division, would not comment on a specific launch timing or venue but said the company remains on track for the two promised delivery windows. He applied the usual caveat: Microsoft will not ship the code if it's not ready.
"I talked to Antoine Leblond and Kurt [DelBene] last week and they feel very good about the track they're on and I know Jim Allchin and the Vista team feel the same way. There's no new news," Raikes told CRN in a meeting at its New York City offices Tuesday.
Leblond and DelBene are the corporate vice presidents sharing the reigns of the Office system products. Jim Allchin, co-president of the Platforms and Services division, has said he will retire when Vista hits the shelves.
"We were engaged in dialogue with the European Union that could have delayed us inside Europe and in Korea but we successfully concluded that round of dialogue and are moving forward on a worldwide basis," Raikes said.
Raikes acknowledged that delays to these key products has been more frustrating for solution providers -- who need new wares to sell and, more importantly, the service opportunities those new wares create -- than for business customers themselves.
This is a huge launch for Microsoft partners, he noted. Vista in isolation is significant enough for infrastructure parnters but "the Office System is the bigger overall partner opportunity because of the breadth and depth [of the offerings]," Raikes contended.
Office, now dubbed Office System, has grown beyond the client-application bundles of Word, Office and Excel to a full range of server-based offerings. There are some 26 Office products in all.
The uniform workflow -- Windows Workflow Foundation -- underlying SharePoint Server and the other Office products could ease creation of new applications for ISVs and corporate IT people, partners say.
Joe Fantuzzi, CEO of Workshare, a San Francisco ISV specializing in compliance and security, is aboard Microsoft's Office push, especially the SharePoint Server component. "Most of our competition builds their own workflow, their own incident management. We bet on Vista and SharePoint 2007. SharePoint Server is visionary and we'll exploit it," he noted.
Workshare products include the WS Compliance Indexer, which will use SharePoint Enterprise Search; WS Policy Management, which will perform remediation using Microsoft Rights Management Services in Office or Vista; and WS Incident Response, a managed service using SharePoint Workflow Foundation.
As an ISV, Fantuzzi is also glad that Microsoft is consolidating its own workflow story around WWF. By some estimates Microsoft's current product set fields nearly a half dozen different workflow engines.
Raikes said Microsoft research shows Vista alone may save business users $35 per PC per year with its new management capabilties. That breaks down to $19 in savings for image management; $13 in support costs and $4 for in security and virus protection.