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Microsoft Partners Kicking Dirt On Vista's Grave

In the wake of Microsoft's Professional Developer Conference, where Windows 7 was prominently featured, solution providers are hoping that Microsoft will stop trying to convince them that Vista isnt' a flop.

But this week at its Professional Developer Conference, Microsoft started talking about Windows 7, the successor to Vista, in a way that suggests it may be scaling back efforts to defend Vista's honor. Microsoft's recent launch of Windows 7-related blogs, and its removal of the word 'Vista' from the Windows Vista Team blog, also support the notion that Microsoft wants to put the Vista experience behind it.

Some Microsoft channel partners who've resisted Microsoft's campaign to get them to migrate their customers to Vista see Microsoft's increasing focus on Windows 7 as a form of vindication.

"I'm very glad I treaded cautiously with recommending Windows Vista, because if I hadn't done so, I would have lost the faith of my clients," said Brian Williams, president of Advantech NW, a Gresham, Ore.-based solution provider.

"Microsoft is eventually going to have to come to terms with the fact that people hate Vista, and it looks like they're starting to do that," said John Kistler, principal at St. Louis, Mo.-based system builder J&B Technologies. "I don't really understand how it has taken this long for them to come around."

Solution providers often compare Vista to another poorly received Microsoft OS, Windows ME. But unlike the consumer-focused ME, Vista was supposed to catch on as the OS of choice in the business world, something it hasn't done to the extent that Microsoft would have liked. VARs chalk this up to Vista lacking enough compelling features to convince businesses to upgrade outside of normal PC refresh cycles.

At PDC, Microsoft focused on the client experience and user interface improvements in Windows 7, but didn't talk much about how it plans to get businesses to upgrade. And that's the main reason why Ken Wallewein, a partner with K&M Systems Integration, a Calgary, Alberta-based solution provider, isn't optimistic that Windows 7 will be adopted en masse by businesses.

"Microsoft seems to think Vista's problems stem from a poor marketing job, and that a new name will make it all better," said Wallewein. "Businesses want simple, reliable, get-your-job-done features. What I see in Windows 7 so far is more eye candy -- sexy GUI stuff."

However, according to Microsoft blogger Mary Jo Foley, Windows 7 will include such business focused features as Branch Office Caching (hosted server caching), Native virtual hard disk (VHD) support, and Direct Access, a new feature that enables mobile workers to stay connected to their corporate networks without using a VPN.

Advantech NW's Williams says Microsoft has great opportunity to right the ship with Windows Azure, its recently unveiled cloud OS, and Microsoft could continue to right the ship by bringing to market a thinner desktop OS that appeals to businesses.

"Businesses that were once 100 percent Microsoft are now taking a second look to alternative platforms in Linux, OpenOffice and Google applications. That trend will continue until Microsoft proves that is has a superior product that's right for business," Williams said.

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