Microsoft Hits The Road To Pimp Windows 7, Office 2010

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Sometimes it's lonely in IT. Your organization used to upgrade all the time--well, at least at regular intervals--but now it's a rare occurrence. Technology has moved on, but you're stuck in the 2000s, running Windows XP and maybe even Microsoft Office 2003. Redmond feels your pain, and it's taking a road trip to ignite change, upgrade the nation's Windows desktops and servers, and maybe sell some software in the process.

The Get On The Bus Tour is a 10-city excursion that runs from May 21 to June 4. Starting in Montreal, it'll proceed down the U.S. East Coast on its way toward Microsoft's Tech-Ed 2010 show, which starts June 7 in New Orleans. The event will preach the Windows 7 gospel to IT types still mired in the Windows XP-era. Attendees will receive a heavy dose of Office 2010 propaganda too. Microsoft's latest productivity suite is slated to ship in June, and the Bus Tour is strategically timed to coincide with Office's official launch.

All Aboard

Bus Tour sessions will focus on the numerous upgrades in security, performance, and end-user training that come with Windows 7 and Office 2010. Given the successful launch of Windows 7, which has benefitted from a recent surge in PC sales, Microsoft's biggest Tour challenge may be to convince enterprise users that Office 2010 is worth an upgrade.

Why? Because productivity suites are a mature market. Office's core apps--Word, Excel, and PowerPoint--may learn a few new tricks with each upgrade, but dramatic improvements are hard to come by. And Microsoft faces an up-and-coming challenger in Google Docs, a cloud-based suite that offers some impressive collaboration tools, even though it can't match Office's powerful and time-tested set of features.

Microsoft's giving away 50 copies of Windows 7 Ultimate for the first 50 groupies, er, attendees at every stop.

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