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Vista/Office Wonderland?

Since neither Vista nor Office 2007 will be generally available until early next year, the company will offer promotions to avoid holiday sales season blues.
Microsoft has been under pressure since delays to the Vista launch were revealed earlier this year. At the time those delays were announced, system builders, solution providers and OEMs said they believed Microsoft should take steps to offer coupons or other promotions to blunt any sales slowdown during the crucial end-of-year season.

Since then, while no programs or coupons have been officially announced, some vendors including Dell, Toshiba and others have begun laying the groundwork to sell systems now that can be upgraded later.

Irvine, Calif.-based Toshiba, for example, has already been selling some notebooks with a logo that says they have been "Designed for Windows XP—Windows Vista Capable."

For its part, Dell, Round Rock, Texas, now has systems with similar logos.

One channel source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said word has been communicated to partners that within months of the launch, Microsoft would provide an end-user upgrade option on systems sold prelaunch that would allow end users to later upgrade to Vista for just the cost of the CD.

But that channel source also said it is understood that system builders and solution providers might begin stocking initial Vista-based systems at Christmastime.

The tandem Office 2007/Vista drop represents a huge opportunity for partners to migrate customers and customize their computing experience, Microsoft executives said last week.

In fact, solution providers can extend and customize the Office 2007 ribbon interface to reflect the end user's needs or even emblazon it with the partner's own identity, they added.

In essence, a partner can private-label Office for a customer, said Microsoft's Capossella.

Office 2007 itself will run on and take advantage of Windows Vista, but it will also run on Windows XP.

Going back to last fall's SQL Server 2005 and Visual Studio 2005 launches and the BizTalk 2006 introduction a few months ago, those products—plus the new Office and Windows—represent $20 billion worth of Microsoft's research and development, Simon Witts, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Enterprise & Partner group, told CRN last week.