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Microsoft release Windows Vista, Microsoft Office 2007 for consumers

It has been a long time coming, but consumers can now have their first real taste of the Windows Vista operating system as well as Microsoft Office 2007. Sure, you could grab an OEM copy of Vista a week early online, but only the true tech geeks were that anxious to get their hands on Microsoft's first new operating system in over 5 years. Microsoft's biggest cash cows are being launched in over 70 countries, in 19 languages (99 before year's end) and will be available in nearly 40,000 retail locations globally.

2006 saw countless beta versions of Windows Vista and Microsoft Office 2007. Microsoft even went so far as to make Office 2007 Beta 2 and Windows Vista Beta 2 available for public download over the summer to get greater feedback on the operating system. The expanded availability was quite beneficial in helping Microsoft to track down bugs and adjust the features and usability of the operating system.

Even though there were many successes during the gestation period of Windows Vista, there were also some big disappointments. Features that were dropped from the operating system include PC-to-PC Sync, WinFS, and FireWire-B support.

And we can’t forget Microsoft’s tussle with anti-virus manufacturers over Kernel PatchGuard. The software feature was put in place to prevent malicious code from accessing and altering the Windows kernel. Symantec kicked up a fuss over the feature and McAfee went so far as to place a full-page ad in the Financial Times blasting Microsoft. During this war of words, Kasperky and Sophos both sided with Microsoft saying that they had no problems with Kernel PatchGuard. In the end, however, Microsoft ended up caving and decided to provide kernel-level APIs to give secure access to the Windows Vista kernel. Not surprisingly, McAfee and Symantec were not impressed.

Likewise, there were many concerns over when Windows Vista would actually launch. Bill Gates, however, was there to reassure consumers and analysts alike that Windows Vista would make its January "on sale" date.

That being said, Windows Vista and Microsoft Office 2007 are now finished products and both Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer are ready to sing the praises of both big releases.

"Windows Vista and Microsoft Office 2007 will transform the way people work and play," said Microsoft chairman Bill Gates. "Personal computers have become a key part of the daily lives of almost a billion people worldwide. Millions of consumers had a hand in helping us design, test and create the most exciting versions of Windows and Office we’ve ever released. Windows Vista and Microsoft Office 2007 squarely address the needs and aspirations of people around the globe."

"These are the most amazing versions of Windows and Office ever," added Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. "The visual effects are spectacular; the navigation is streamlined and intuitive. They make it much easier to protect your PC, yourself and your children online. And they work together to help you accomplish more throughout the day."

There are four editions of Windows Vista available for consumers, so here’s a breakdown:

  • Windows Vista Home Basic, $199/$99.95 (full/upgrade)
    Provides a basic platform for home users who want to keep tabs on email and Internet activity. Comes standard with Vista's new Search Explorer, Sidebar and Parental Controls.
  • Windows Vista Home Premium, $239/$159
    Builds on Home Basic by adding the Windows Aero interface, Windows Media Center functionality, Windows Tablet PC technology and integrated DVD burning.
  • Windows Vista Business, $299/$199
    Supports the Aero user interface, offers improved document managing and Windows Tablet PC functionality.
  • Windows Vista Ultimate, $399/$259
    Vista Ultimate combines the functionality of Vista Home Premium and Vista Business.

Likewise, there are five editions of Microsoft Office 2007 available to general consumers:

  • Microsoft Office Home and Student, $149/NA (full/upgrade)
    Excel 2007, PowerPoint 2007, Word 2007, OneNote 2007

  • Microsoft Office Standard 2007, $399/$239
    Excel 2007, PowerPoint 2007, Word 2007, Outlook 2007

  • Microsoft Office Small Business 2007, $449/$279
    Excel 2007, Accounting Express 2007, PowerPoint 2007, Publisher 2007, Word 2007, Outlook 2007 with Business Contact Manager

  • Microsoft Office Professional 2007, $499/$329
    Excel 2007, Access 2007, Accounting Express 2007, PowerPoint 2007, Publisher 2007, Word 2007, Outlook 2007 with Business Contact Manager

  • Microsoft Office Ultimate 2007, $679/$539
    Excel 2007, Access 2007, Accounting Express 2007, PowerPoint 2007, Publisher 2007, Word 2007, Outlook 2007 with Business Contact Manager, InfoPath 2007, Groove 2007, OneNote 2007

For those looking to score a hot deal on Windows Vista or Microsoft Office 2007,you may want to check your local sales flyer as there are a number of freebies being given away with both software packages this week in stores.

"We are going to continue to work with them to make sure they understand the reality of the Internet.  A lot of these people don't have Ph.Ds, and they don't have a degree in computer science." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis

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