Microsoft releases Windows Vista, Office 2007 to businesses

New versions promise more features and better security

In what the company claims is its biggest launch since Windows 95, Microsoft has announced the local business availability of Windows Vista, the 2007 Microsoft Office system, and Exchange Server 2007.

Vista and Office 2007 are available to volume licensing customers now with Exchange Server 2007 appearing in mid-December.

The consumer, or non-volume licence agreement, versions of Vista and Office will be available from January 30, 2007. Microsoft Australia managing director Steve Vamos said the new products deliver "game-changing innovation" and the company has made "extraordinary" investments in research and development, with all software going through extensive testing.

Some 86,000 beta versions of Office 2007 and Windows Vista have been downloaded in Australia, according to Microsoft.

Accounting and consulting organization BDO was one of the first Australian organizations to run a pilot project of the 2007 Microsoft Office system, Windows Vista and Exchange Server 2007. BDO partner Allan Granger said the pilot project proved the new product versions have the potential to "radically enhance BDO's service and offerings to clients". BDO worked with Microsoft partner Ensyst to trial the technology with 50 users within the firm, including the corporate finance business unit.

Granger said the ease of deployment was a significant benefit of the project.

"The interface was so familiar - it was essentially the tools we had been using, with a much greater level of functionality," he said. "When clients see that BDO staff have these Microsoft tools available to them, it reassures them that they are partnering with a truly leading and modern firm."

Alcoholic beverage manufacturer and distributor Lion Nathan was also an early adopter of Exchange Server 2007 and Office Outlook 2007. An enterprise-wide deployment of Exchange Server 2007 will see Lion Nathan consolidate 10 servers into three and improve productivity by providing staff with advanced mobile access and calendar features. Lion Nathan's CIO, Darryl Warren, said the combined functionality of Exchange Server 2007 and Office Outlook 2007 creates a high-availability environment, powerful mobility features, improved staff productivity and streamlined administration.

"Lion Nathan plans a full organization-wide roll-out of Microsoft Exchange Server 2007. This will significantly reduce our messaging server hardware and software licensing costs over the long term," Warren said.

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