Vista, Office 2007 to debut with business version releases today

  • Redmond (WA) - The wait is over, at least for business customers, for Microsoft's new Windows Vista operating system, as well as the latest version of Microsoft Office. The new programs, which will be available for consumers in January, round out a sweeping release of updates over the past few months for Microsoft's most widely used applications.

    Windows Vista is the anticipated successor to Windows XP, which first went on sale about five years ago, though because of a delay announced early this year, the software giant will miss the holiday shopping season for the general consumer versions of the OS. Regardless, estimates have said that as much as 90 million copies will be installed by the end of next year.

    The business versions of the software are generally sold with bulk licensing to corporations. "Today is really about making Windows Vista, the 2007 Office System and Exchange 2007 available to our Software Assurance (i.e., volume licensing) customers in businesses and enterprises of all sizes," wrote Microsoft product manager Nick White in the official Windows Vista blog.

    The two big software updates come as Microsoft is trying to rejuvenate all its major properties. Earlier this year, Windows Media Player and Internet Explorer both saw major overhauls after years of not being updated. Office 2007 will be the first new version of the business application suite since the creation of and subsequent interest in Google's free online ad-based clones of Word and Excel.

    Windows Vista changes the look and feel of the basic OS fundamentals that it's had since Windows 3.1, including a Mac dashboard-like interactive desktop screen. Additionally, there's a complete visual refresh from Windows XP. Office 2007 also gives users a new interface and a bunch more tools to customize and preview in real-time any changes that users want to make to their documents.

    Prices for Windows Vista range from $200 to $400 ($100 to $260 for upgrades). Office 2007 will sell at retail for between $150 for the student edition to $680 for the "ultimate" pack. Both are set for a consumer launch of January 30.

    Microsoft is holding a launch event for the business releases of Office and Vista later at 10:30 am EST the NASDAQ building in New York City.

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