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Vista Rounds the Final Turn

Vista isn't ready for the gold yet. Microsoft officials say there will be one more beta release of Vista, called the External Developer Workstation build, before gold code is released to manufacturing. If there are no other unforeseen hitches, the company will make the much-anticipated operating system available for business users around mid-November and through all other channels by the end of January 2007. So the industry will have to wait with beta breath for another few weeks.

Being typically optimistic -- and believing it's never too early to start beating its marketing drums -- Microsoft officials say they expect that some 60,000 business customers will be using the product on day one. That figure is about 10 times the number of seats typically deployed by Windows users at launch, by the company's count.

What makes Microsoft so confident that Vista will come charging out of the blocks is the feedback its Vista team has been getting from its Technology Adoption Program (TAP) partners. The company has worked with about 500 of them along with a few dozen more who are actually helping Microsoft design the product.

Microsoft expects Vista's jackrabbit start to continue, predicting that businesses will adopt it twice as fast over the first year as its predecessor Windows XP. According to IDC, XP was on 10 percent of businesses systems a year after its delivery. If Microsoft's predictions are correct, Vista would be sitting on some 20 percent of such systems by the end of 2007. IDC analysts are highly skeptical the company can achieve that goal.

"For them to do 20 percent in the first 12 months is going to be very difficult," says Al Gillen, an analyst at IDC.

"Most IT shops coordinate upgrades like Vista with their next major upgrade cycle for hardware or mission-critical applications. It's just the way the world works," he says. "It isn't a matter of whether Vista's good or bad; In fact, I think there are some good things in there for customers."

About the Author

Ed Scannell is the editor of Redmond magazine.

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