Microsoft 2007: Overkill?

Staring at the keyboard today pondering my first newsletter report for Redmond magazine, I started thinking about the Vista and Office 2007 business launches of last week. (Full disclosure: I didn’t attend the New York event in person, but I did watch the Webcast live.)

While many of the demos by third-party partners sparkled with undeniable technical ingenuity and enthusiasm by its participants, the rest of the Microsoft presentation was decidedly underwhelming. At times, I was reminded of those balloon-filled yet people-empty ballrooms where Republican losers made their concession speeches on election night. My Redmond magzine colleagues who did have a seat in the crowded Nasdaq conference room didn’t lay a you-had-to-be-there-to-see-it on me either. To them, it was just as low-key in person.

That said, I told myself that Microsoft must be saving the big party for January’s consumer launch. At least, I hope so. After five years’ worth of development fits and starts and endless media scrutiny, you would think the coming-out party would generate some fist-pumping and back-slapping, if not relief, by Microsoft’s marketing machine. (To be fair, Steve Ballmer opened his remarks last week emphasizing the word “finally” when announcing the products’ availability to corporate users). Hindsight being what it is, launching first to consumers would have been the wisest move of all, but I suspect Microsoft realizes this.

One revelation at the event really piqued my interest, however. Ballmer said that Microsoft -- on the backs of flagships Vista and Office 2007 -- will birth more than 30 new products by the end of next year. No wonder the executives at the launch in November seemed tired.

We all knew 2007 would be a watershed year for Microsoft products. But 30-plus? I decided to check out the press materials on Microsoft.com to see exactly what we are talking about here. It’s a dizzying list. In addition to the nearly 20 client and server products that are upgrades (everything from Office Visio Professional 2007 to System Center Configuration Manager 2007), Microsoft lists this cavalcade of brand-new products: Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack for Software Assurance, Office Project Portfolio Server 2007, Office Forms Server 2007, Office SharePoint Designer 2007, Office Communication Server 2007, Voice CAL for Office Communication Server 2007, Office PerformancePoint Server 2007...and, well, the list goes on. To see it in its full glory, go here.

Anyway, my question for you fine readers is this: Is this overkill?

If, when, and how do you plan to incorporate all or some of the products associated with Vista into your environments (not to mention third-party applications that will also be rolling along)? What kind of training curve is ahead of you and how good of a job is Microsoft doing helping you to get ready?

Is your head spinning? When it stops I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please write to me at capril@redmondmag.com.

About the Author

Carolyn April is the executive editor of features for Redmond magazine.

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