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Windows Vista and Office 2007: Microsoft collaboration

The Windows Vista and Office 2007 release should make dramatic collaboraton improvements.

Vista and Office 2007 will kick off the wave of collaboration technologies coming from Microsoft next year.

For the past couple of years, Microsoft has recast Office 2007 as a productivity suite of software, and also as the centerpiece to its collaboration strategy. It has also become a brand name for a suite of servers as well as applications. Microsoft Office Groove Server 2007 and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, for example, are just two of the Office server products that will be offered to enterprises.

In June, Microsoft also described its unified communications roadmap, which included Communications Server 2007, Exchange Server 2007 with its unified messaging features, and Office Live Meeting. There is also a separate IP telephony initiative with Nortel Networks that was announced in July.

Among the most dramatic shifts will be with SharePoint Server because of its inherent architectural changes. This product will move from being a content delivery platform to an application delivery platform with business intelligence.

"People are either anxiously awaiting [SharePoint Server] or anxiously fearing it," said Michael Gotta, an analyst at Burton Group Inc. in Midvale, Utah. "There is a lot that is different."

Gotta said he constantly hears IT managers discussing the pros and cons of moving to Office SharePoint Server, vacillating between thinking that their SharePoint installations will pay off all the way to thinking that if they commit to SharePoint, they will be selling their souls to Microsoft.

All of the technological changes being put forth by Microsoft will take years to play out because of the changes required by each. "There will be Vista upgrades, Office client upgrades, maybe SharePoint on the back end," Gotta said. "But it's just too much to do at once. The most aggressive companies may install Office in 2007, but others will wait for service packs in 2008."

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