‘Most Significant Product Launch in Microsoft History’ says Ballmer

In a synchronised world wide launch yesterday Microsoft unveiled its new Vista OS, Exchange Server 2007 and Office 2007 Suite.

CEO Steve Ballmer kicked off the event in New York whilst at a press conference at Arsenal FC’s Emirates Stadium, Microsoft’s UK managing director, Gordon Frazer, fronted the show that announced the business availability of Windows Vista operating system, the 2007 Microsoft Office system and Exchange Server 2007.

Designed to enable businesses to thrive in a world of instant communication, expanding information and constant change, the new products provide a platform that will transform the way people turn information into opportunity and growth.

Microsoft said the announcement marks the beginning of the most significant product launch in the company’s history and the first simultaneous release of Microsoft’s flagship products since the joint launch of Windows 95 and Office 95 more than a decade ago. Exchange Server 2007 is slated for release to organisations with volume license agreements by the second week in December. Windows Vista and the 2007 Office system is targeted for release to consumers and organisations without volume license agreements on January 30.

According to Gordon Frazer, the new versions of Windows, Office and Exchange Server are the result of an unprecedented collaboration between Microsoft and its customers. Real-life scenarios guided product development through feedback from customers who volunteered to let Microsoft watch them work in more than 1 billion user sessions worldwide. During testing, customers from around the world downloaded more than 5 million beta versions of the three products and provided valuable feedback and suggestions.

Gordon Frazer, Microsoft UK managing director, said: “These products deliver game-changing innovation. We’ve made extraordinary investments in research and development and Windows Vista, the 2007 Office system and Exchange Server have been tested more thoroughly than any other software products in history.”

Adrian Ford, commercial director, Arsenal FC said: “Our new stadium has enabled us to really change the way our staff work and become more collaborative across different departments. The combination of 2007 Office system, Exchange Server 2007 and Windows Vista is helping this enormously by improving the mechanisms for sharing information and providing frameworks for users to collaborate on planning and coordination around specific events. Even simple things like having a single shared calendar of upcoming activity will improve productivity and be hugely beneficial.”

According to a Capgemini study commissioned by Microsoft, early adopters expect dramatic productivity gains through capabilities that address core business issues in new ways. “Companies we’ve talked to are looking at driving major revenue increases, improved responsiveness to customers and improved sales team win rates with the 2007 Microsoft Office systems,” said Capgemini Vice President Ken Edwards. “The early adopters are also realising costs savings through process workflow automation, easier access to information, improved collaboration with colleagues, and lower costs of compliance. It’s all about creating customer connections with your people at less cost and improved effectiveness.”

Since the release of Windows 95 and Office 95, Microsoft has delivered critical platform advances with each major release of its two flagship products: TCP/IP in Windows 95 helped pave the way for relying on the Internet as a commodity, for example, while wireless capabilities in Windows XP made mobile computing commonplace. New capabilities in Windows Vista and the 2007 Office system include significant advances in graphics and pervasive support for XML. Significant server investments make the 2007 Office system a powerful platform for developing business applications to eliminate the barriers between organisations, systems, processes and information.

Microsoft has applauded the 640,000-strong worldwide partner ecosystem that has worked closely with it to prepare for today’s launch. In addition, many of the worlds’ leading solution integrators are prepared to deploy the new products for enterprise organisations.

According to Gordon Frazer, Microsoft’s belief is that people are the driving force behind business success. It is this principle which provided the starting point for the new capabilities in Windows Vista, the Microsoft 2007 Office system and Exchange Server 2007.

Frazer said: “These products will enable UK companies to unleash the full potential of their people to build profitable relationships with customers, spearhead new innovations, and drive business success. Although many customers will deploy these products separately, together they will fundamentally change the way companies get value from business information.”

Together, the three products focus on four critical areas:

– Simplifying how people work together. From new Windows capabilities designed for mobile workers and unified messaging enabled by Exchange Server 2007 to workflow and collaboration tools in Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, the new products revolutionise the way people work in teams and on the go.

– Finding information and improving business insight. Deep platform integration and availability of new search technologies and powerful, easy-to-use business intelligence tools will help enable employees to find and use information more easily, streamlining the path from idea to execution.

– Helping protect and manage content. Advanced content management and document retention tools combined with features to better protect data confidentiality make content authoring the starting point for automated business processes and regulatory compliance.

– Increasing security and helping reduce IT costs. With enhanced security by design and by default, the new versions of Windows, the 2007 release and Exchange Server 2007 deliver breakthrough security features. They streamline deployment and management, helping reduce costs and enabling IT departments to focus on providing new capabilities that deliver strategic advantage.

Windows Vista, the 2007 Office system and Exchange Server 2007 also provide the core platform that will enable businesses to take advantage of the benefits of Internet-based software services. All three products incorporate key XML and Web services technologies that will help companies tap into online services and select the mix of on-premise and hosted applications that deliver the right balance of control, convenience, cost-effectiveness, and security, while increasing productivity.

“During the last decade, Windows 95 and Office 95 transformed the way people work,” said Steve Ballmer, CEO Microsoft. “The three new products announced today are the most advanced work that Microsoft has ever done and I believe they signal the beginning of a new wave of innovation that will have an even more profound impact during the next decade.”

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