Microsoft today staged a rolling launch of Windows Vista, Office 2007, Exchange 2007 , and associated products starting in Sydney, Australia and wrapping around the world through Asia and Europe to Steve Ballmer in New York who is still speaking as I write. The launch event so far has been as devoid of excitement as expected, but the important thing is that Microsoft at long last got Vista out the door.
Update: For the sake of completeness, according to the press release linked above, the full set of products launched today was:
An * below indicates the product is available now.
• Windows Vista Business *
• Office Professional 2007 *
• Office Project Professional 2007 *
• Office Visio Professional 2007 *
• Office InfoPath 2007 *
• Office OneNote 2007 *
• Office Communicator 2007
Client enterprise editions
• Windows Vista Enterprise *
• Office Enterprise 2007 *
• Exchange Server 2007 *
• Office SharePoint Server 2007*
• Office Project Server 2007 *
• Forefront Security for Exchange Server *
• Forefront Security for SharePoint *
• System Center Configuration Manager 2007
Server Enterprise editions
• Windows Rights Management Services *
• System Center Operations Manager Enterprise 2007
• Unified Messaging Services for Exchange *
• Excel and Forms Services for SharePoint *
• Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack for Software Assurance
• Office Project Portfolio Server 2007 *
• Office Forms Server 2007 *
• Office SharePoint Designer 2007*
• Office Communications Server 2007
• “Voice Call Management” for Office Communication Server 2007
• Office PerformancePoint Server 2007
• Forefront Client Security
• Office Sharepoint Server for Search 2007 *
• SQL Server 2005 Data Mining Add-ins for Office 2007
• System Center “Desktop”
• Office Groove Server 2007*
• Office Groove 2007 *
• Exchange Hosted Services*
Yesterday I mentioned Bill Gates’ Microsoft SharePoint Conference keynote in which he reported surprising success for SharePoint, but John Fontana at InfoWorld says there is more to the story:
But it was a question and answer session with attendees after the keynote where Gates smacked IBM/Lotus and outlined future plans to make SQL Server the native underlying platform for SharePoint, Exchange, meta-directory, and all Microsoft server applications with data storage needs. He also said it would take some time for Microsoft to unify its workflow engines. Currently, BizTalk, SQL Server, Identity Integration Server and SharePoint are among the Microsoft products that have their own workflow engines. Microsoft is developing a workflow technology for the operating system called the Windows Workflow Foundation, but Gates did not mention it.
When an audience member asked for his views on IBM’s Workplace platform and Louts Notes, Gates, with tongue-in-cheek, admitted his bias toward Microsoft before slamming his rival.
He said IBM/Lotus has done nothing new in the productivity software space since Notes founder Ray Ozzie left in 1997 to found Groove. Ozzie is now CTO at Microsoft having joined the company when it bought Groove last year.
“They have really gone back to not so much thinking about productivity software,” said Gates. “I don’t know of any substantial use of Workplace that is out there.”
I’m sure that IBM is capable of defending itself, but Gates’ mention of Groove begs the question that if SharePoint is Microsoft’s collaboration solution, what purpose is being served by Microsft’s plans to ship Groove which is now an Office product? I’m sure it would be a modest embarrassment for Ray Ozzie if Groove were discontinued, but does Microsoft really need two collaboration products?
As far as settling on common storage and workflow engines for Microsoft products, it’s a nice objective, but I’m not holding my breath since the entropy of all the separate product groups has always prevented it in the past.
Perhaps one of the least hyped aspects of the Office 2007 announcement was the addition of Office Groove 2007 (acquired with Ray Ozzie’s Groove Networks) to the lineup. John Fontana explains how it fits at Computerworld Australia:
A year after buying Groove Networks and its peer-to-peer technology, Microsoft has begun laying out plans to develop the software into the offline client it has been missing in its document collaboration story.
Office Groove 2007, which Microsoft introduced in late February, is being developed as the “cache” or offline client for Microsoft’s Windows SharePoint Services and the renamed SharePoint Server in Office 2007.
The offline capabilities provides corporate users with better support for distributed work teams and mobile workers, who can take work offline much the same way they do with e-mail and then synchronize their changes once re-connected to the network.
The current SharePoint client is a browser, which means users must be tethered to the network to create or edit any collaborative content.
“This is the most logical thing that they could do with Groove because there is such a significant requirement for an offline store for SharePoint Services,” says Matt Cain, an analyst with Gartner. “It is mandatory to be able to take that stuff offline. This is exactly what we had been expecting and were hoping. The only real question is what took them so long.”
In line with Monday’s rumor, Microsoft has formally branded the upcoming release of Office that had been codenamed “Office 12″ as “Office 2007″. The press release is here along with Microsoft Word documents with details on the various packages (SKUs) to be offered, and the estimated retail pricing.
Some items of note:
FrontPage is replaced by Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer 2007 and Microsoft Expression Web Designer which are both said to be based on FrontPage technologies. SharePoint Designer is new and we have previously discussed the Expression products here. I won’t wax nostalgic about the history of FrontPage except to say that I always found it a useful web site file manager and WYSIWYG HTML editor despite its quirks and the disdain of geeks who like to program close to the metal. Even today, most non-Microsoft web hosting packages offer FrontPage support which reflects its popularity and how it managed to retain its cross platform heritage over the years. We’ll have to see how the new tools work out, but my prejudice is against SharePoint for anything except intranet use in an all Microsoft shop, so I expect that my general preference would be Web Designer.
Groove joins Office with the announcement of Microsoft Office Groove 2007, Microsoft Office Groove Server 2007, and Microsoft Office Groove Enterprise Services for hosted deployments. All are only available through volume licensing which seems interesting given that Groove’s original claim to fame was small group collaboration through P2P sharing. There’s also a new Office Live Groove subscription service for SMBs. That would spice up the rather mundane Office Live story.
New Microsoft Office Forms Server 2007 and Microsoft Office Project Portfolio Server 2007. Details are sparse, but presumably these are respectively central servers for InfoPath clients and the project portfolio management technology acquired last year with UMT.
New Microsoft Office Communicator Web Access A web based version of Microsoft’s business IM client.
New Microsoft Office Enterprise 2007 and an Enterprise CAL. These new versions have everything but the kitchen sink.
There’s lots to chew on here and I expect a wave of punditry over the next few days.
Update: Jay Greene at BusinessWeek online says that the release of Office 2007 has slipped six to eight weeks to the 4th quarter.