A seemingly endless number of column inches have already been written about Vista, which was originally scheduled for launch three years ago, but there's unlimited mileage left in it yet. If the very mention of the word already activates a nervous tick in the left side of your face, it might be a good idea to spend the rest of the year locked in a cupboard somewhere. There are a few central themes we can expect to see recurring.
Top of this list will be how many consumers and businesses migrate to the new platform. Analysts at Gartner and Forrester agree it will be 2009 before Vista surpasses Windows XP as the most widely used operating system. For now, the main question is which sector of the IT market will be first to embrace Vista and which flavour (Home Basic, Home Premium, Business or Ultimate) proves most popular.
While Steve Ballmer and his team are working overtime to convince the business world of the massive productivity boost they will get from the new OS, most IT departments will have more pressing issues to address. Corporate migration to Vista will happen gradually as PC fleets are upgraded.
If those upgrades take place after Service Pack 1 is released later this year, so much the better. For most users in small business land, Vista is even less of a priority.
But in the consumer PC market, there has been a slowdown in recent months as many potential buyers decided to wait until after the holiday season before upgrading despite the 'Vista capable' sticker campaign.
This is where we can expect to see some immediate action. According to some estimates, Microsoft will spend a mind-boggling $US500 million marketing Vista this year. With only 20 per cent of Vista users expected to buy the software as a standalone purchase or upgrade, according to Microsoft figures, the big winners should be PC vendors.
From a channel point of view, Vista should also be good news, Gartner states. The market analyst has estimated spending of $18 on related hardware, software and services for every dollar Microsoft earns from its newest family member.
Feeling insecure? Not everybody is cheering. For some in the software industry, the arrival of Vista is more readily associated with fears than cheers. This is especially true for security players including Symantec, who have already cried foul over features such as Windows Security Center and PatchGuard that could be seen as a threat to their long-term prosperity. Like all things Vista, we can expect to hear a lot more about this in the months ahead.
Although not as long in the planning as Microsoft's new offering, we have also been redesigning our products.
The new-look ARN website (www.arnnet.com.au) will be packed with a range of additional features including video and podcasts during the next few weeks. Our print edition has also been transformed and will enable the news team to be much more analytical about the news that matters to you. As ever, feedback on style and content would be greatly appreciated.