Canadian firms offer Vista progress report

SEATTLE – Canadian partners of Microsoft Corp. at a roundtable Wednesday described how the Windows Vista operating system has given them a dramatic leg up in their industry sectors.

The beta 2 versions of Vista, along with the Longhorn server and Office 2007, were released at this year’s Windows Hardware Engineering Conference.

The Redmond, Wash.-based software firm has said Windows Vista, Longhorn and 2007 Office will work together to cut IT costs and improve security, help protect and manage information, simplify the way people collaborate and enable people across organizations to have faster, easier access to critical information.

Preo Software Inc., a print management solutions provider based in Calgary, said it chose Microsoft’s platform because it wants to focus on its core business of helping customers produce documents and leave details about the platform to someone else.

“The biggest change with Vista is we can go from a third-party application to a totally integrated solution,” David Edmonds, president and CEO, said.

With Vista and the new Office program, “We can be integrated into the print dialogue box,” Edmonds said.

Today, a customer pressing the file/print button has to follow a number of steps to produce a document, he said. But with Vista, he said, the print dialogue box that pops up contains a host of information about a company’s print job, such as the cost, the print devices available and the wait time.

“You can build and add your information,” said Vince Mullan, a senior developer at Preo. He said Vista more seamlessly provides a client with advice before a document is printed, and business information intelligence after the job is finished.

This will make “our acceptance into the enterprise market…much more simplified,” predicted Edmonds. “We’re going to have such a giant leap forward on everyone else.”

Several corporate customers are geared up to test the new system, which will be sold through primarily OEMs but also system integrators. Edmonds predicts Vista will save $8 or $9 per desktop.

He said the challenge for customers will revolve around timing. The third version of Preo’s print software will enter the market in August, after which time Preo plans to build its own Vista product.

“Our sales on that product will be directly correlated to customer acceptance of Vista.”

Although he does not envision serious hitches around adoption, Edmonds said industry trends show that Preo must add a “10 per cent to 15 per cent timeframe” to allow customers to accept the Vista platform.

For ATI Technologies Inc., a 3D graphic solutions firm based in Toronto, Vista is a “homerun,” said Terry Makedon, group manager for the product management department.

“The desktop is now 3D,” said Makedon about Microsoft’s new user interface called Aero.

Aero features, among other things, a translucent file bar, real-time shadows that give the screen a multi-dimensional quality and faster movie action. For these reasons, Makedon envisions plenty of market opportunities on the consumer side.

From a business perspective, “The homerun there is stability,” he explained. ATI’s early predictions are that Vista will reduce 80 per cent to 90 per cent of blue screens and system crashes, cause less downtime and require no machine reboots.

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