Microsoft Boasts Trio of Beta 2s

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates on Tuesday unveiled beta 2 versions of Windows Vista, Windows Server “Longhorn” and the 2007 Microsoft Office system at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) in Seattle.

It is the first time that Microsoft has simultaneously released test versions of all three of the company’s flagship products. Microsoft is touting a “better together” strategy that promises “tremendous value” in deploying all three products at once.

“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,” Gates said. “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.”

Bottom Line Success

In his keynote address, Gates emphasized that the three platforms contribute to bottom line success in four key areas: simplifying how people work together; enabling better content production and management; finding information and improving business insight; and reducing IT costs and improving security.

Gates predicted Windows Vista and Windows Server “Longhorn” will open up new segments of market opportunities in PC-based computing in which the industry and Microsoft ecosystem partners can innovate for the next 10 years.

Right now, Microsoft customers are concerned about the short term, however. There has been some speculation in the industry that Vista will be delayed again. “The release of beta 2 would indicate that Microsoft is still on target to release Vista during the first quarter of 2007. That’s the beta everybody was watching very closely. Everything else is gated on the Vista desktop release,” Enderle Group Principal Analyst Rob Enderle told TechNewsWorld.

Everything, perhaps, but the firm’s wireless strategy.

Working Together

Gates noted Motorola’s planned launch of a cordless, dual-mode phone later this year, and he discussed the growing opportunity to design devices that work with live services — going well beyond Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)-enabled phones.

“Microsoft’s support for hardware developers enables us to make the great voice features of Windows Live Messenger accessible in new, innovative, connected home devices,” said Barry James Folsom, Motorola corporate vice president and general manager of home mobility solutions.

Microsoft and Motorola appear to be getting closer these days — likely because of Motorola’s Q phone model and the possibility of revolutionizing the smartphone industry.

“Motorola is the closest thing we’ve got to a company that is building iPod-like products using Microsoft technology with the Q,” Enderle noted. “Microsoft could do the same thing in the smartphone market that Apple did in the iPod market.”

The Fourth Beta

Microsoft also announced the beta 2 version of WinFX and the corresponding Go-Live license, both available to developers on MSDN. WinFX is a core part of the Windows Vista operating system that enables developers to rapidly build modern applications.

The Go-Live license also includes the first Go-Live license for Windows Presentation Foundation and enables customers to deploy applications for Windows Vista using any or all of the key technologies of WinFX — Windows Presentation Foundation, Windows Workflow Foundation, Windows Communication Foundation and “InfoCard,” the code name for a technology designed to simplify and improve the safety of accessing resources and sharing personal information on the Internet — before the final release of WinFX.

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