Seneca Data Gears Up For Vista

The North Syracuse, N.Y.-based system builder includes itself on the list of companies that are upbeat about Microsoft's decision to provide upgrade coupons to OEMs ahead of next year's official launch of its Windows Vista operating system. Plans call for Microsoft to issue an Express Upgrade coupon for system makers that would enable PC buyers to get free or discounted upgrades for Vista through March 15.

"We've been gearing up for Vista for a long time," said Missy Maser, Microsoft alliance manager at Seneca Data. "Right now, all of our systems are Vista-capable."

Like other system builders and tier-one computer manufacturers, Seneca Data has been building and shipping systems with "Windows Vista Capable" logos. The upgrade coupons likely will help keep sales brisk through the year's end, Maser said.

"At this point, we're confident sales will stay strong through the end of the year," she said. "I think everyone is definitely going to be affected [by the Vista launch]. I think you'll see the typical, traditional rollout. It's been a while since we've had a new operating system."

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The coupon deal, in part, is designed to drive PC sales though the holiday season. Microsoft plans to include coupons with new Windows XP SKUs that give buyers a free pass to the next-generation OS when it ships in the first quarter of 2007, industry sources said.

Still, other system builders don't expect the coupon to have much impact on the business market.

"Doubt it. People who were buying will still buy. Since most of my customers are business customers, Vista does nothing for them," said Brian Bergin, president of Terabyte Computers, Boone, N.C. "Vista is a consumer-grade OS that is a great upgrade for Millennium but not for XP. There are so many things about Vista that make it a home-user product and not a business-grade OS that our customers will likely stay with XP for some time to come."

Some system builders have said they expect a lag between the official Vista launch and its ultimate adoption by larger businesses and government agencies. Seneca Data's Maser agreed and said she believes the launch will be like Microsoft OS launches of years past.

"Traditionally, we've always seen that the larger customers don't move as fast because they can't," Maser said. "They've got much larger deployments and much larger rollouts."