Only Handful Of Top Business ISVs Ship Vista Apps

ISVs are taking their sweet time shipping new business applications for Windows Vista, but the picture is looking a little brighter for the second half of 2007.

According to a list of compatible and certified Vista applications updated by Microsoft Friday, only 120 of the 879 Vista applications available on the market today are Certified for Vista. That means those applications exploit new features or services in Vista and have passed Microsoft's certification tests.

And only a handful of the 115 or so Vista Certified applications that made their debut in early 2007 -- namely Microsoft Office 2007 and CorelDraw Graphics Suite X3 -- are published by top business ISVs. Microsoft's Office 2007 family alone accounts for about 25 percent of the total number of Certified for Vista applications.

Still, other business ISVs are hard at work. Trend Micro, for example, has released two consumer-oriented security software products that have been Certified for Vista by Microsoft, and its certified corporate products will ship later this year, a Trend Micro spokesman said.

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Other leading desktops ISVs -- including Intuit, Symantec and Adobe -- have released patches that make their current applications compatible with Vista, and all pledge to have new versions of their applications Certified for Vista in the near future.

For instance, Intuit's QuickBooks 2007, released in October, is not certified but already exploits important system services in Vista, such as User Account Control (UAC), a security feature that restricts how users can configure -- and inadvertently expose -- their OS to viruses and malware.

Intuit had little choice: QuickBooks was originally built on the administrative rights model, so current versions won't run on Vista without workarounds. An Intuit spokesman said QuickBooks 2007 does not require any elevated privileges and runs easily on Vista once installed.

Trend Micro's Antivirus 2007 and Internet Security Suite 2007 also exploit Vista's User Account Protection, as well as the operating system's new driver signing model, said one company executive. And those are not meaningless check-list items, the company maintains.

"We modified our installer so it works. Yes, there are other applications that are compatible with Vista, but their installers won't obey the way UAC works. So some won't install correctly or may be installed in inappropriate places or won't uninstall correctly," said Carol Carpenter, vice president of marketing at Trend Micro. "

Trend Micro also ensured its kernel drivers were ready for Vista, a new requirement for certification that has a real-world benefit, Carpenter added. "We rewrote our firewall drivers, and [because of this] Vista won't pop up messages to end users," she said.

Getting certification is a "rigorous" process and requires an application to pass more than 30 test-case scenarios, but it's worth the effort, Carpenter said.

"Why not give the customer a quick shortcut? I'm surprised the other folks didn't do it, considering the importance of security software," she added.

Industry observers say it's not unusual for new business applications to lag behind consumer ones because businesses upgrade to new operating systems slower than the mass market does. Still, some Microsoft partners are concerned that so few Vista business applications are on the market, given Microsoft's concerted efforts over the five-year development cycle to entice developers to Vista with its WinFX model.

"I'd have thought that with so many delays and such an incredibly long development cycle that they would have had their ISVs and OEMs in a higher state of readiness for launch than is apparently the case. The drivers, utilities and applications to support -- much less leverage -- Vista simply aren't there and aren't really very close to being there," said Richard Warren, chief technology and marketing officer at Channel Blade Technologies, Virginia Beach, Va.

NEXT: Vista plans of Symantec, Intuit and Adobe

Vista Plans Of Symantec, Intuit And Adobe

Symantec, for its part, announced that its AntiVirus Corporate Edition on the business side and Norton Internet Security and Norton 360 on the consumer side are Vista-compatible now, and "it's just a matter of time" before they are Certified for Vista, a company spokesman said.

Those compatible versions take advantage of new Vista APIs and other under-the-cover services of Vista, but a spokesman acknowledged that adding support for Vista's UAC is still in development.

Observers are also watching Adobe's plans for its next-generation versions of Photoshop, InDesign, Dreamweaver, Flash and After Effects, which will ship this spring and summer and are optimized for Vista, a company spokesman said.

Adobe is keeping a tight lid on launch plans for its widely anticipated Creative Suite 3, saying only that the software will ship in spring 2007.

Industry sources say Adobe is targeting late March or early April for the release. The update will be a multiplatform Big Bang: It's the first from Adobe to natively support Apple's Intel-based Mac platform, as well as the first to support Vista. A beta version of the new Photoshop for Vista is winning strong reviews. A new UI consolidates the tool palette into a single column to free up screen space, and filters are now editable, among other enhancements.

In the interim, Adobe has provided Vista compatibility updates for Photoshop Elements 5.02 and Premier Elements 3.02 and will offer updates for Adobe Acrobat 8 and Reader 8 in the first half of 2007.

Google and Autodesk have Vista compatible applications on the market that have earned Microsoft's Works With Windows Vista logo, but they have not yet made the certification list.

NEXT: What's here and what's coming for Vista

What's Here And What's Coming For Vista

There are other ISVs that have shipped or will ship Certified for Vista applications for businesses over the next six months. They include the following:

• 90 Degrees Software, Vancouver, B.C., whose Radius for Windows Vista business intelligence reporting tool was certified for Vista in early January. It is one of the first applications that exploits the .NET Framework 3.0 of Vista and harnesses its high-end graphics to deliver a visually rich BI reporting tool and its and peer-to-peer capabilities to better enable collaboration among colleagues.

Radius also sports a user interface similar that mimics and integrates well with the Office 2007 ribbon-like interface and adds value to Microsoft's PerformancePoint BI tool. Company executives opted to be among the first ISVs out of the gate with a certified Vista application to capitalize on the attention paid to the Vista and Office 2007 launch in late January.

"If we waited a year or so to get certified, you'd get lost in the noise," said Roger Sanbrorn, CTO of 90 Degree Software, which has a channel program.

• SourceCode Technology Holdings, Redmond, Wash., whose soon-to-be-released K2.NET Enterprise Workflow Platform for Vista, code-named Black Pearl, is expected to be released this summer, company executives said.

The "Black Pearl" business process management platform harnesses the key building blocks of Vista, including its workflow, communications and graphics foundations to streamline business processes. The .NET Framework 3.0-based application simplifies the coding process of building business processes, such as workflow routing, by offering a series of templates and wizards and integrates tightly with Office 2007.

SourceCode, which worked closely with Microsoft on the development of Vista and Office 2007, in early 2007 launched a revised global partner program that creates a new alliance level and strips out the multitiered, structured and onerous requirements of the past program. The new program also offers new training and support services for partners, executives said.

• Attachmate EXTRA! X-treme Version 9 was the first business application to be Certified for Vista. The terminal emulation solution for connecting Vista users to IBM zSeries, iSeries and UNIX systems was announced last fall. The Seattle-based company plans to ship this spring another Certified for Vista application called Reflection 2007 that will be tightly integrated with Vista and Office 2007, executives said.

• Electric Rain's upcoming multimedia creation and editing tool, StandOut, allows businesses to create visually rich and cinematic slide-show presentations using the .NET Framework 3.0 in Vista. The application, which has a designer edition and presenter edition, is slated to be available for Vista in the second quarter. StandOut was announced on Jan. 30. The application, however, is sold directly through the Boulder, Colo., company.

Stacy Cowley contributed to this story