TORONTO — Microsoft is calling the release of its Vista operating system along with the Office productivity suite and Exchange Server 2007 a new day for productivity.

Phil Sorgen, president of Microsoft Canada said today at Toronto’s Polson Pier that there remains productivity gaps between Canadian workers and American worker by as much as 46 per cent according to an ITAC study.

He added that IDC reported recently that the single most important priority for Canadian businesses is to increase productivity.

“This isn’t about Canadians not working hard, but more about providing the tools sustain the knowledge worker and the economy,” Sorgen said.

Those tools, he believes will come in Windows Vista, Office System and Exchange Server 2007 as a “people-ready” business platform. Today is the first day business can get their hands on volume licenses of these products.

Michelle Warren, market analyst for Partner Research Corp. of Toronto said Vista would help improve productivity because it is intuitive to the way we work.

“It goes back to the fact that the Office 2003 System has been so widely used and integrated into the Canadian corporate scene. Vista will be an extension of that,” Warren said.

Brian Bourne, president of CMS Consulting Inc., a Toronto-based Microsoft gold partner, said people will be wowed by Vista’s pretty interface, but the new security features of the OS are a complete 180 compared to the first release of Windows XP.

“I’m a security guy and as one of the founders of the Toronto Security User Group, the security features of Vista really excite me,” Bourne said.

For example, companies are discouraging USB key use because these devices may lead to potential security threats to the IT environment.

Bourne said that Vista instead of disability a great device such as a USB key is enabling it because of its local admin feature.

One of CMS’s customers the Toronto District School Board is enabling students to use USB keys to copy their homework during computer labs through something called elevated privileges.

“Vista allows for this. Everyone talks about locking removable storage out, but why not enable it with some form of control,” he said.

Stephen Sweet, regional vice president of Mississauga, Ont.-based solution provider Buchanan Associates, believes Vista and the new “people-ready business platform will produce productivity gains.

“Just with the new look and feel there will be a productivity enhancement,” Sweet said.

He also thinks Vista will lead to better desktop security with features such as Bit Locker and disk encryption for laptops.

Sweet said that these three products would also produce more revenue opportunities for the solution provider in 2007.

Warren expects a five per cent increase in desktop, notebook and server sales for the whole of 2007 over 2006 just because of Vista.

“We will see an up tick in desktop and notebook activity because of Vista, but I think it will take the whole year. It will not be just in the first quarter,” she said.

According to her Partner Research forecast, there will be a market increase in corporate purchases for December 2006 and then another increase in consumer and corporate buys in Q1 of 2007.

“Corporate and consumer purchasers will adopt a wait and see attitude and I suspect we will see them upgrade to Vista by the end of 2007,” she said.

Between 10 and 20 per cent of Buchanan’s customer base are in the Vista pre-planning stages and he expects that percentage to increase next year.

Already four customers are working on adopting Exchange Server 2007, Sweet said.

One of those customers, Prime Restaurants of Canada Inc. in Mississauga, Ont., believes the new Exchange will save its wait and kitchen staff time, which could potentially mean more sales because the employees would have extra time for patrons.

Eric Lee, director of IT for Prime, which has 160 Casey’s, East Side Mario’s and Fionn MacCool’s eateries across Canada and 600 employees, said the Buchanan build a single point of access for better control and integrity using Sharepoint and Exchange.

Lee said the kitchen staff uses the Web site portal for recipes, nutritional ideas, cooking preparations and video demos.

“Exchange, Sharepoint and Office saved us time in travel. We have one major menu change once a year for each (franchise). We would never bring 600 people across Canada to one location to show them the new menu. That is a cost savings. We also seasonal promotions and remember every change is times three (Casey’s, East Side Mario’s and Fionn MacCool’s),” Lee said.

Mike Bulmer, product manager for Microsoft Canada, said Buchanan’s solution emphasizes Vista’s collaboration features.

“This solves business needs. They are the go-between’s to drive new business. Vista is more about what it can do than just being a new product for the solution providers,” Bulmer said.

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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