There's sure been plenty of coverage of Microsoft's announcement earlier this week of beta 2 availability of three of the company's flagship products -- Windows Vista, 2007 Microsoft Office and Windows Server (code-named "Longhorn" or "long time").
Speaking at the Microsoft Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) 2006, Microsoft Corp. Chairman and Chief Software Architect (some title?!) Bill Gates said: “The release of these three betas is a significant milestone for Microsoft and a major step toward delivering the platforms that will drive the next decade of computing. The combination of these innovative platform technologies and the new hardware and software being developed by our partners will make PCs and other devices more powerful, more useful and more intelligent for businesses today and into the future.”
Let's summarize what all of the noise is all about. According to the company, Windows Vista, the 2007 Microsoft Office system and Windows Server “Longhorn” are designed to help businesses empower their people to manage waves of information and contribute to bottom-line success in four key areas:
• Simplifying how people work together. Wherever people work in an organization, these three products will make it easier for them to communicate and work together in teams and with their external customers and partners. The products include collaboration capabilities that enable workers to more easily share, access and synchronize information and documents across a wide range of devices.
• Enabling better content protection and management. Windows Vista, the 2007 Microsoft Office system and Windows Server “Longhorn” are designed to streamline everyday business processes and compliance procedures that slow people down. The products include capabilities that enable better protection and retention of user and system data, as well as improved application of compliance policies and business process integration with critical business systems.
• Finding information and improving business insight. Windows Vista, the 2007 Microsoft Office system and Windows Server “Longhorn” enable people across organizations to have faster, easier access to critical information and the tools that help them derive better insight from this information. The products include new tools for finding information across a range of applications, on desktop PCs and on mobile devices, while also extending business insight with new business intelligence tools.
• Reducing IT costs and improving security. Windows Vista, the 2007 Microsoft Office system and Windows Server “Longhorn” cut down deployment and management costs and complexity by reducing security risks and simplifying the deployment process. The products include capabilities that help IT professionals better manage operations, while also delivering enhanced protection from Web-based malicious software and fraudulent e-mail messages.
The 2007 Microsoft Office system Beta 2 is available via free download in English, French, German, Japanese and Spanish languages at http://www.microsoft.com/office/preview.
If anyone takes the plunge, would be interested in hearing your personal experiences with any (or all) of these products; the phone lines are open.