What's New in Microsoft Land: 16th - 20th July 2007

It's coming! Windows 7!

Microsoft is a company that became famous for its Windows operating system while other sides of the giant such as the games department remained a little bit anonymous due to this software solution. But the game industry became very important for the Redmond company since it released Xbox 360, one of the most popular game consoles ever created.

That's why Microsoft struggles to employ the best engineers in the market able to bring the software giant among the top game producers in the world. Unfortunately, something went wrong and Peter Moore, one of the best employees from Microsoft's games department, announced on Monday his departure from Redmond. Although Microsoft said that Peter Moore resigns from his position by personal reasons, it seems like the ex-software giant employee will join the Electronic Arts team, one of the best games producers in the entire industry.

"Peter has contributed enormously to the games business since joining Microsoft in 2003 and we are sad to see him go," said Robbie Bach, president of Entertainment and Devices Division at Microsoft. "Since that time, he presided over the global launch of the Xbox 360™, spearheaded a revitalized and rebranded Games for Windows business, and helped steer the console's ascent."

As you surely know, the online battle for the best web-browser on the Internet is currently led by the software solutions: Internet Explorer and Firefox. If Internet Explorer has the advantage of being created by the software giant Microsoft, the company that built the famous Windows, Mozilla's Firefox was described just from the beginning as the best alternative for IE, offering more secure and powerful features.

Being well-known the fact that Internet Explorer has several problems with the online security, Firefox grew up fast and became the main competitor for the Redmond company. On Tuesday, XiTi Monitor, a research company, published a new study that revealed that Mozilla's Firefox is almost as popular as its rival and might challenge the first place soon. In fact, Firefox is already the main browser in several countries but Internet Explorer remains the top product since it is included in the Windows operating system.

According to the study, Firefox beats IE in several European countries such as Poland, Germany and Romania with a visit share of 33.4%, 32.7% and 24.7%. In comparison, Microsoft's browser is still the leader in Sweden, France and Italy with a visit share of 31.6%, 34.0% and 28.9%. In addition, Firefox was used more in the week of July 2 to 8, 2007 in Europe with a visit share of 23.1 percent while IE obtained only 22.6 percent.

"If one looks at their visit share in each of the 32 countries studied, it is a perfect tie in terms of the number of countries "preferring" one or the other of the two browsers: the visit share of Firefox 2 is in fact superior to that of Internet Explorer 7 in 16 of the 32 European countries studied below, that is just half. But in terms of level of visit share country by country, the advantage belongs to Firefox 2 overall," the folks from XiTi Monitor wrote in the study.

Back in January, the Redmond giant released two long awaited solutions: Microsoft Office 2007 and Windows Vista. Although they are two stand-alone products, Microsoft decided to launch both of them at the same time and some people might believe there is at least a tiny interoperability between them. Actually it isn't.

The folks from Microsoft Watch wrote an interesting analysis on Wednesday about the two products in order to underline the differences between them. "Although Microsoft made a big deal about Vista and Office shipping together, there's really very little synergy between the products. Vista was still shape-shifting toward the end of the Office dev cycle, so the Office team couldn't do much integration with it," said Paul DeGroot, lead desktop strategies analyst for Directions on Microsoft, according to Microsoft Watch.

First of all, look at the functionality of the two applications. While Vista is updated every once in a while, Microsoft Office 2007 is quite a final release, receiving patches or updates only when critical vulnerabilities are discovered. "Office launched as a finished product, while Vista is continuously updated-at the least, for hardware and software compatibility-via Windows Update. Many businesses are holding off Vista upgrades until release of Service Pack 1," Microsoft Watch wrote.

Secondly, the requirements of the two products are really encouraging users to use them separately. While Windows Vista needs a huge amount of resources, Microsoft Office 2007 can be used even on older computers without many upgrades. "Hefty system requirements mean that most businesses must either upgrade or replace PCs before deploying Vista. IT organizations can deploy Office 2007 on existing hardware," the same source added.

Everybody is expecting Vista SP1. Even the ones who are not yet the users of the last version of Windows because they hope it can bring a little bit more compatibility with their hardware devices. That's why there is so much buzz around the upcoming service pack. But Microsoft is not worried and tries to exploit this matter to obtain as much as it is possible. I'm talking about popularity just like the operating system because Microsoft made Vista one of the most awaited products ever released due to several announcements and statements concerning the product. However, some of the users were talking about a potential Vista SP1 to be rolled out very soon. Other say the service pack will come in September. Or maybe by the end of the year. Microsoft refuses to offer a launch date but instead, sustains Vista SP1 is not so important.

According to Microsoft Watch, Chris Liddell, Microsoft's chief financial officer, said on Thursday that Vista SP1 is only in development stages.

"Clearly there will be an SP1, but at this stage we're not talking about exactly when it is. We don't see it as a massive driver of uptake in its own right. It's early days yet, and we're broadly happy with how we're seeing Vista adoption," he said according to the same source.

On Friday, a hot title caught everyone's attention. "Windows 7", most of the publications said. What about it? What's that? Well, it seems like Windows 7 is the name of the upcoming version of the famous operating system that is scheduled to be released in three years. There isn't much information about it since the Redmond company showed only a few details through some slide presentations presented at a meeting. Todd Bishop wrote on the seattlepi.com blog that most of the details are meant to catch the attention of corporate users.

"For example, one slide says Windows 7 will be "A full OS release," available for businesses and consumers, in both 32- and 64-bit versions. Another slide says the "development philosophy" for future Windows versions includes establishing a "more predictable release schedule," and expanding the "Windows product family" to "deliver value beyond the OS including subscription offerings," he wrote.


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