The Opportunity that is Vista
Brent Colbert, Microsoft New Zealand’s marketing director talks to The Channel about the opportunity Windows Vista presents to the channel and what partners need to know as they embark on the Vista journey.
What advice would you give to the partner community in regards to Windows Vista?
When it arrives later this year Windows Vista is going to be the largest Microsoft technology release in a decade and as such creates an opportunity for New Zealand partners to generate revenue through customer purchases of software, hardware and services.
The key to driving Windows Vista sales and deployment will be for partners to focus on the significant business and consumer value the new operating system delivers over Windows XP with SP2. It will be essential that the partners understand and can articulate this value to customers for them to gain the full impact of the rewards this technology brings.
One of the best ways for partners to start gaining this understanding is to attend our purpose-built Vista training for partners (detailed later in the interview), as well as to test and deploy Windows Vista in their own business as soon as possible.
What information can you provide in relation to hardware requirements?
Central to helping people use their PC and manage information is the user interface which has evolved considerably over the last several decades to provide a rich and rewarding experience with Windows Vista. There are two Windows Vista experiences, the basic experience and the premium experience, both offering a high level of performance. The basic experience offers less enhanced UI features than premium but all the security, manageability and search features remain.
In terms of hardware requirements a Windows Vista-capable PC includes at least a modern processor (800Mhz), 512MB of RAM and a graphics processor that is DirectX 9 capable. The premium experience includes a more advanced User Interface and more reliable and versatile graphics architecture.
A Windows Vista Premium Ready PC includes at least:
• 1 GHz 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
• 1 GB of system memory
• A graphics processor that runs Windows Aero (WDDM drivers available)
• 128 MB of graphics memory
• 40 GB of hard drive capacity with 15 GB free space
• DVD-ROM Drive
• Audio output and Internet capability
How compatible is Windows Vista with third party hardware and software?
Very compatible. Application compatibility has been a major area of focus and development for Windows Vista and the operating system has been designed with compatibility in mind.
One of the most important questions faced by individuals and organisations when deploying a new operating system is, “Will this new system be compatible with my current and planned software applications?” To help answer this, the Microsoft development team has tested more than 800 applications from over 150 independent software vendors against daily test builds of the operating system, ensuring the highest possible levels of compatibility.
In addition to this Microsoft is offering improved application compatibility resources via Application Compatibility Toolkit 5 which, among other new features, includes access to an on-line application compatibility community ensuring testing information is shared and accessed quickly by those that need it, our customers and partners.
Can you provide details on when Windows Vista will be OEM installed?
Windows Vista is targeting a general release date of early 2007. Our OEM partners are very excited by the opportunity Windows Vista offers and I expect them to switch from Windows XP to Windows Vista as the pre-installed OS of choice, with these PCs available by the general release date.
What support and training options are available for partners?
Whilst we are still in the pre- release phase, our main partner support will be delivered via readiness training programmes and on-line resources such as:
Various partner training events will be available from the end of October and throughout November. These will include retail (consumer) sales training, system builder and partner sales and technical training, including how to build and deploy Windows Vista PCs and a series of deep dive technical hot labs.
We are extending this training out beyond just the main centres, so watch out for information of an event somewhere near you. I suggest partners keep an eye on www.microsoft.co.nz/events and watch their email inbox for an invite in the near future. And the best news is that most of these events are free; the exception being the hot labs.
What are you looking forward to most about this release?
As a time-limited business user swamped by digital documents I love the new desktop search and the organise features of the premium UI, also as a parent I value the new Parental Controls security features.
How do you see this release impacting on the channel?
With Windows Vista, Microsoft is providing a sophisticated, high performance platform that is secure as well as easy to deploy and manage. It will be an operating system partners and customers can rely on and one that will be simple to migrate to. Consequently I see huge opportunities for our partners with respect to creating and delivering new solutions, having renewed discussion with customers about their PC platform and the increase in PC shipments that only a new and exciting PC operating system can generate. The release of this operating system is going to impact very positively on the channel – it is the biggest shift in technology since we launched Windows 95.