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Businesses get a sneak peak to Vista

Software giant Microsoft Corp. with typical global fanfare yesterday unveiled Windows Vista, its first new operating system in five years.

Microsoft said Vista will make computers more secure, powerful and graphically dynamic, especially when combined with other software products that Microsoft released simultaneously. Although it won't specify how much it spent on developing Windows Vista, Microsoft spends $7 billion (U.S.) annually on research and development, including on its latest products, Vista and Xbox 360."This is nothing short of a breakthrough in terms of innovation," Phil Sorgen, president of Microsoft Canada, said yesterday. "These products deliver game-changing innovation."Sorgen said the three products, including Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 and 2007 Microsoft Office, are "the most tested products ever brought to the market."Windows Vista will take at least two years to overtake Windows XP and become the essential operating system, according to Brian Sharwood, an analyst at technology consultants Seaboard Group in Toronto.

Sharwood said Microsoft executives have ambitious plans for the Canadian market and are hoping for a 20 per cent share of desktops within a year.Microsoft's new operating system is backwards compatible with older software systems, but is not compatible with Microsoft's latest MP3 player, Zune, currently available only in the U.S."They're not without fault," Sharwood said. "Incompatibility with Zune is just standard. One of the issues they have is making things backwards compatible. That's one of the reasons why it takes Microsoft so long do things. They don't want to lose clients who are working on old systems."Work on Windows Vista, at first code-named "Longhorn," started before the release of Windows XP in 2001.

It was to be released in 2003 as a minor bridge between existing operating systems. But by 2004, Microsoft announced it was making significant changes to Longhorn, which was then renamed Vista. Although Windows Vista will be available to business customers who buy in bulk immediately, it will not be sold to individual consumers until Jan. 30, 2007. Dell Canada is one of many companies already offering Windows Vista to businesses with a volume licensing agreement with Microsoft.Windows Vista has a number of new features including three-dimensional graphics and much better search capabilities.Its programs have less access to the core of the operating system, closing a vulnerability that hackers have exploited in the past. Vista also includes basic anti-virus software.Widgets or mini-programs — such as a clock, calculator, stock ticker or weather report — that run simultaneously on a computer have also been upgraded.

Many of these features are already available in some of Apple's Mac computers."Microsoft doesn't have to be the leader. They are a fast follower," Sharwood said. with files from the Star's wire services. -thestar

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