Vista Launch Gets Rolling

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Today Microsoft kicked off the day-long launch of its Vista operating system, Office 2007 suite, and Exchange Server 2007 applications for enterprise users with events at three locations in Asia.

It's the first time that new versions of Windows and Office have been launched simultaneously since 1995 and that makes it one of Microsoft's biggest launches in years. The three products became available today to volume licensing customers. Consumer versions won't be available until next year.

"I'm super excited about this launch today. It's been a very long journey but now I can say that we have truly arrived," said Darren Huston, president and chief executive officer of Microsoft's Japan unit.

The launch, which began with an event in Sydney and was followed with similar events in Tokyo and Beijing, provided Microsoft a stage from which to talk up the three products and showcase some of the businesses that have already committed to rollouts.

Interest High in Corporate Japan

Microsoft Japan has 57 companies that have said they'll roll out at least one of the three products. The list includes Sharp, Sanyo Electric, McDonalds Holdings Company (Japan), Nikon, Chubu Electric Power, computer game maker Capcom, and trading company Itochu.

Interest from potential users in Japan has been high, according to Huston. Of 5 million downloads and 1 billion user sessions conducted as part of the beta testing for Windows Vista, about 20 percent have been by users in Japan. The country accounts for about 10 percent of the global IT market.

Speaking in Tokyo, Jay Jamison, leader of Microsoft's Windows business group in Japan, said, "We are hopeful and optimistic that in Japan Windows Vista will be the most successful business OS release of Windows ever."

Other Launch Plans

In Australia, companies including BDO Chartered Accountants & Advisers and alcoholic drinks company Lion Nathan have begun testing the products.

Later today Microsoft will hold launch events in Munich, London, Paris, Toronto, and New York. A consumer version of Windows Vista is due on January 30 in many countries.

Rodney Gedda of Computerworld Australia contributed to this report.

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