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Windows Vista: Is it for consumers or businesses?

Opinion
Mar 01, 20063 mins
Enterprise Applications

* Mixed Vista messages from Microsoft

Late last week Microsoft announced a new Windows Vista Community Technology Preview (CTP) – that’s Redmond-speak for a beta release that’s not sent to beta-testers. In fact, this supposedly “feature complete” release was sent to approximately 500,000 selected business customers (did you get one? Let me know what you think of it, if you did).

Brad Goldberg, general manager for Windows product management, made the announcement in a telephone conference last week, calling it an “enterprise release.” He spent time touting the new business-friendly features, including the ability for users to log in remotely without the use of a VPN. Goldberg reiterated the mantra that with Vista, as with everything Microsoft does these days, security is the major feature but wouldn’t say how Windows Vista would maintain network security without using a VPN.

In a move to supposedly ease the burden on IT staffs (or, more likely, keep beleaguered IT departments from granting admin privileges to users), Vista users will be able to change their PC configuration – installing a PC driver or connecting to a wireless network – without needing to have all rights. Anyone want to join me in wagering how long it will be until the first virus appears, masquerading as a printer driver?

The Red Herring reported that Microsoft inadvertently posted (for a brief time) descriptions of multiple versions of Vista: “It listed SKUs (stock-keeping units) for a starter version, two versions aimed at home users, two versions for businesses, an ‘ultimate’ version, and two versions without Windows Media Player, a requirement that the European Commission has been urging.”

Maybe that’s why Microsoft execs appear to have their stories mixed – they’re talking about different versions of the operating system.

Goldberg, in the conference call, said: “The impression was created that Windows Vista was a consumer release. Windows Vista is as much, if not more, a business release.” Well, where did the “false” impression come from? None other than Microsoftie-in-chief Bill Gates, who created that impression when he addressed the Consumer Electronics Show in January.

In Microsoft’s press release about Gates’ CES keynote, it says that Gates “…highlighted some of the most compelling consumer-oriented features of Windows Vista, including a sleek user interface, richer multitasking experiences and deep integration of search throughout the operating system. He also showed the new Windows Photo Gallery, which will make managing and working with digital photos easier.

“He showcased the most advanced Windows games platform for everyone from casual players to hard-core gamers, including stunning graphics capabilities, by premiering Microsoft Games Studios’ forthcoming ‘Flight Simulator X,’ the most realistic flight simulator in the franchise’s 25-year history.

“Gates was joined onstage by MTV Networks’ Music Group President Van Toffler to showcase the forthcoming URGE digital music service, which is designed to bring people’s emotional connections with music to the forefront of the digital entertainment experience. URGE will give users of Windows Media Player 11 instant access to more than 2 million songs from major and independent labels as well as exclusive MTV Networks programming and content.”

And isn’t that what you want on your network?

I am interested in hearing from those who received the CTP release your impressions of the new system as a business system. But I can’t see the rest of you going out of your way to try to find a copy. Plenty of time for that after the official release late this year.