Steve Ballmer Kicks Off Most Significant Product Launch in Microsoft’s History

Editors’ update, Dec. 1, 2006
— The “Products Released” sidebar below has been updated to correct branding on certain titles.

NEW YORK — Nov. 30, 2006 — At a press conference at NASDAQ MarketSite in Times Square, Microsoft Corp. Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer announced the business availability of the Windows Vista™ operating system, the 2007 release of Microsoft® Office, and a host of other new product offerings designed to enable businesses to thrive in a world of instant communication, expanding information and constant change.

Today’s announcement that Windows Vista and the 2007 Microsoft Office release are available to volume licensing customers marks the beginning of the most significant product launch in company history and the first simultaneous release of Microsoft’s flagship products since the joint launch of the Windows® 95 operating system and Office 95 more than a decade ago. Windows Vista and the 2007 Office system will be available to consumers and organizations without volume license agreements on Jan. 30. In addition to Windows Vista and the 2007 release of Office, Ballmer discussed more than 30 new offerings for business customers.

According to Ballmer, the new versions of Windows, Office and Exchange Server 2007 are the result of an unprecedented collaboration between Microsoft and its customers. Real-life scenarios guided product development through feedback from customers who volunteered to let Microsoft watch them work in more than 1 billion user sessions. During testing, customers from around the world downloaded more than 5 million beta versions of the products and provided valuable feedback and suggestions.

“These are game-changing products,” Ballmer said. “It’s an incredible step forward for business computing in a year of unprecedented innovation from Microsoft. We expect that more than 200 million people will be using at least one of these products by the end of 2007.”

Early Adopters See Clear Business Value

Microsoft CFO Christopher Liddell (L) and CEO Steve Ballmer (C) ring the NASDAQ opening bell with NASDAQ President and CEO Robert Greifeld (R) to celebrate the business availability of Windows Vista, the 2007 Microsoft Office system and Exchange Server 2007. New York, NY, Nov. 30, 2006.

Joining Ballmer at NASDAQ MarketSite was Michael Wolf, president and chief operating officer of MTV Networks.

“In the highly competitive and fast-moving media and entertainment industry, our advantage comes from our people,” Wolf said. “These new products provide rich collaboration tools and powerful information-discovery capabilities that will help our employees be more productive and more creative. This will strengthen our competitive edge, and that’s why we’ll deploy the new products to 3,000 desktops in the coming six months.”

According to a Capgemini study commissioned by Microsoft, early adopters expect dramatic gains in productivity through capabilities that address core business issues in new ways.

“Companies we’ve talked to are looking at driving major revenue increases, improved responsiveness to customers, and improved sales team win rates with the 2007 Microsoft Office system,” said Ken Edwards, vice president of Capgemini. “The early adopters have realized cost savings through process workflow automation, easier access to information, improved collaboration with colleagues, and lower costs of compliance. It’s all about creating better customer connections and empowering your people at less cost and with greater effectiveness.”

Industry Poised to Take Advantage of New Opportunities

Since the release of Windows 95 and Office 95, Microsoft has delivered critical platform advances with each major release of its two flagship products: TCP/IP in Windows 95 helped pave the way for the popularization of the Internet, for example, while wireless capabilities in Windows XP made mobile computing commonplace. New capabilities in Windows Vista and the 2007 Office system such as significant advances in graphics and pervasive support for XML and other technologies provide the framework for creating new experiences for end users. Significant server investments make the 2007 Office system a powerful platform for developing business applications that will eliminate the barriers between organizations, systems, processes and information.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer speaks at a press conference marking the first simultaneous release of Microsoft’s flagship products in more than a decade, held at the NASDAQ MarketSite in New York, NY, Nov. 30, 2006.

During the press conference, Ballmer applauded the 640,000-strong worldwide partner ecosystem that has worked closely with Microsoft to prepare for today’s launch. More than 1,000 of the industry’s largest independent software vendors have been developing and testing solutions for the 2007 Microsoft Office system, and approximately 3,000 partner solutions are in the final stages of development. In addition, more than 100,000 partner professionals in the United States have already completed training on these products, and this number is expected to grow to more than 1 million trained product experts worldwide within eight months.

“Industry analysts expect these products to represent more than $250 billion in partner revenue opportunity in the next 12 months,” Ballmer said. “No set of product releases in history has ever offered this level of opportunity for the industry as a whole.”

“Our clients are enthusiastic about these new products,” said Don Rippert, chief technology officer of Accenture. “They recognize that the new capabilities in Windows Vista, the 2007 Office system and Exchange Server 2007 have the potential to reshape the workplace and deliver dramatic benefits to the enterprise.”

Delivering the Promise of the People-Ready Business

According to Ballmer, the starting point for the new capabilities in Windows Vista, the 2007 Office release and the more than 30 products discussed today is Microsoft’s belief that people are the driving force behind business success.

“These products will enable companies to unleash the full potential of their people to build profitable relationships with customers, spearhead new innovations and drive business success,” Ballmer said. “Although many customers will deploy these products separately, together they will fundamentally change the way companies get value from business information.”

Together, these products focus on four critical areas:

  • Simplifying how people work together. From new Windows capabilities designed for mobile workers and unified messaging enabled by Exchange Server 2007 to workflow and collaboration tools in Microsoft Office SharePoint® Server 2007, the new products revolutionize the way people work in teams and on the go.

  • Finding information and improving business insight.

    Deep platform integration and availability of new search technologies and powerful, easy-to-use business intelligence tools will help enable employees to find and use information more easily, streamlining the path from idea to execution.

  • Helping protect and manage content.

    Advanced content management and document retention tools combined with features to better protect data confidentiality make content authoring the starting point for automated business processes and regulatory compliance.

  • Increasing security and helping reduce IT costs. With enhanced security by design and by default, the new versions of Windows, the 2007 Office release and Exchange Server 2007 deliver breakthrough security features. They streamline deployment and management, helping reduce costs and enabling IT departments to focus on providing new capabilities to deliver strategic advantage.

Windows Vista and the 2007 Microsoft Office system also provide the core platform that will enable businesses to take advantage of the benefits of Internet-based software services. These products incorporate key XML and Web services technologies that will help companies tap into online services and select the mix of on-premise and hosted applications to deliver the right balance of control, convenience, cost-effectiveness, and security while helping increase productivity.

“During the last decade, Windows 95 and Office 95 transformed the way people work,” Ballmer said. “These new products announced today are the most advanced work that Microsoft has ever done, and I believe they signal the beginning of a new wave of innovation that will have an even more profound impact during the next decade.”

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (NASDAQ “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

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