“The ability to create custom and ongoing applications using Vista and Office 2007 is simply too attractive for our customers to ignore,” LeSueur says, citing custom business research apps Avanade is helping to create in the oil and gas industry and the health-care sector using Office 2007, Office SharePoint Server 2007, and Exchange 2007.
That isn’t to say that Vista on its own is an industry dud. It’s more that companies deploying the new OS right away are, for the most part, largely dependent on Office. Administrators at these companies simply can’t ignore the fact that Vista was released in conjunction with quantum leaps forward in, arguably, Microsoft’s other two most popular platforms.
“More so than ever, the operating system is just such a small piece to the user,” says Stan Foster, research fellow and Microsoft specialist at Hewlett-Packard’s service division, which helps HP customers manage rollouts and provides additional services such as managed desktop outsourcing. “It’s the applications that are important to the business people. All these components [Vista, Office 2007, Exchange 2007] have individual benefits, but combined — that’s where the action is.”
And though it may not simply be a matter of whole-hog deployment of the Microsoft trifecta or nothing at all, from a planning perspective, it’s certainly easier to consider Vista, Office, and Exchange as a holistic combination rather than starting over from scratch each time.
Both Office 2007 and Exchange 2007 offer significant, new, user-facing features that could well influence management buy-in far more than Aero’s pretty face. Figuring out the right feature combination means charting the best course to ROI, and that, in turn, is the best path to getting management on board — a path that requires identifying the combination of these three platforms that will offer the most to your user set and then building your rollout plan around those features.
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“It’s just so much easier than with previous imaging packages,” says Chad Lewis, Microsoft’s Vista deployment product lead. “Remember, we don’t just deploy Vista or Office once, like our customers. We’ve had to deploy several builds of both at regular intervals. The ability to keep our WIM [Windows Imaging Format] file library small and easily tailored has made the whole process just so much easier.”