Office 2007 RTMs, Vista In 'Escrow'

Microsoft sources say Vista, the next release of the Windows client operating system, is in RTM "escrow," meaning that the team thinks the code is good to go but wants hammer on it just a little longer.

The Office team hosted a launch party in Redmond, Wash., on Friday, sources said.

As for Vista, "if the RTM escrow build works out for Vista, then signoff will happen. If showstoppers are found, they'll be fixed and the process is repeated. The bar is VERY high for showstopper bugs though, so Vista is definitely in the home stretch," according to a Microsoft source.

Both product lines are slated to formally launch Nov. 30 in New York.

Sponsored post

Jeff Raikes, president of the Microsoft Business Division, the group responsible for the Office applications and servers, was clearly in sales mode at a recent meeting with CRN editors in New York City. He said this launch is far broader and wider than the Office 2003 launch three years ago.

"With the 2003 Office , we had about 75 partners online, with 2007 we have more than 700 partners online. That order of magnitude jump is indicative of the magnitude growth," Raikes noted. Partners will see big opportunities in building and supporting portals, enterprise content management (ECM), smart-client solutions and business intelligence using various Office components, Raikes maintained. He especially highlighted the upcoming new SharePoint 2007 Server as a linchpin for many of these implementations.

In his view, the Office 2007 System could have the same profound impact on information workers as Microsoft's move to offer its applications as a productivity suite in the 1990s. "The 2007 Office system is the bet we're making on servers and services support for info work. In particular, Office SharePoint Server is equally important as the suite of client applications was in early 1990s," Raikes said.

Given the impact the Office suite of Word, Excel and Powerpoint had on the market and on competitors, that is no trifling claim. The original Office bundle pretty much made Lotus 1-2-3 and Wordperfect footnotes in the PC software business.

ISV partners like Workshare are using Sharepoint as part of their foundational technologies, Raikes said. Microsoft will be at pains to paint Office 2007 as a jumping-off point, rather than a competitor, to third-party applications. This has gotten to be a harder sell as both the number of applications and their capabilities continue to rise.

The New York event, to be headlined by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, will be followed by a series of regional and local events throughout the early part of next year. Company chairman Bill Gates is expected to continue to stoke the fire in early January during his keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Sources also expect him to talk up an upcoming low-end version of the Longhorn Windows server packaged up for sale at retail. Longhorn is now slated to ship next year.

Many Microsoft partners have been chomping at the bit to get this final code in hand and start implementing at customer sites. Many customers do not want to get involved with beta software. Several said there is more customer interest in Office products -- especially SharePoint -- than in Vista, which they say has been over-hyped so long that expectations have crested and ebbed. In addition, many of the promised perks or "pillars" of Vista and Longhorn are being "back-ported" to run with on the current Windows XP.

One long-time Microsoft Business Solutions partner who sells and implements ERP maintains that with this Office release, the line between MBS business applications and Office productivity applications disappears. He hopes that will spell more services opportunities for his business, showing customers how to use these lines together and customize applications.