So lets talk about the future of Vista and reflect on the fact that it really isnt a product, its an OS, and an OS is a platform for other things.
Hardware On Vista
Ive had a chance to talk at length with the team leaders on both the Microsoft and the Toshiba side of the Protégé R400, the high-end laptop with built-in wireless USB. Yes, both sides. You see, the R400 was a joint project between Toshiba and Microsoft. And while its an executive product (translated: your CEO will want one and you wont be able to say no), for now the process will repeat itself with other Toshiba products. Its already moving to the other vendors because it was so successful.
This points to a future of products designed jointly by Microsoft and various hardware partners that are increasingly attractive to look at and provide ever increasing feature sets, like built-in wireless docking.
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Think premature product cycles, think executives who wont take no for an answer. Think about laptops that folks will actually start taking care of.
A few years back Leslie Fiering over at Gartner predicted that at some future point employees would buy their own PCs much like they typically buy their own cell phones today. This could herald that practice into the market and disrupt perhaps dramatically how we currently deploy and manage PCs.
Of course with migrations vastly improved, both through the new Vista Migration wizard and third party products like LapLink PCMover, migrations seem to go vastly better with Vista. Once users become aware of this, one of the big impediments to employee movement employee disruption is largely removed.
Finally, if that werent enough, Windows XP kind of sucks on multi-core systems, which are becoming more and more of the norm. Vista was not only designed to use 2 cores, it scales up to 8 and 16 cores, giving it the headroom that XP lacks (XP cannot scale past two).
Just as the success with Toshiba has driven a move on the hardware side to more closely collaborate with Microsoft, so too on the software side did a similar effort with Electric Rain create a market-leading presentation product called Standout. This offering, also largely due to close collaboration with Microsoft, has led to an Aero user interface that is elegant, simple, and very easy to use. Based on this collaboration there were a number of changes to Vista, as well improving the development tools and even the product itself.
Other products that appear to have benefited are Symantecs Internet Security for Vista, which provides the most comprehensive and non-disruptive coverage for remote employees and family yet. Also, Yahoos new Instant Messenger offering stands as a testament to the fact that Microsoft can play well with others.
The Symantec product runs almost entirely in the background now and virtually all of the annoying firewall related warnings and disruptive virus reports are obsolete. Overall, the products work as they always should have (but didnt) and the Yahoo Instant Messenger is even a better example of this. By making difficult tasks easier it enhances discoverability and is likely to become one of the biggest competitive advantages in the segment. This means change and a lot of it.
As other companies realize this collaborative work style is a way to not only improve their offerings but make them more useful and easier to use (less likely to generate help calls), they are expected to follow this path as well. They will start not only using the newer tools sets, but collaborating with Microsoft to make both the tools and future versions of software products vastly more powerful and elegant.