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The first operating system designed solely with the end user in mind.

Byline: ANDY DENT

I'm guessing public opinion in the West Midlands towards the launch of Microsoft's new operating platform Vista will be the same as in other parts of the UK, if not the entire world.

There are no doubt two distinct camps on the issue. At this precise moment the vast majority are probably incredulous that the planet will have to dance to Microsoft's new tune.

Just as the majority of people have got used to XP and are as comfortable as they are ever going to be using a PC with it, Vista now looms large on the horizon and it is a scary prospect for most.

Firstly there's the arduous process of having to learn how to use it. And the thought alone is a very real problem for a lot of people.

Secondly there's the expense of having it. We're already starting to see the adverts in newspapers and on television promoting PCs and laptops that come with Vista.

The king is dead, long live the king. It already feels like XP is dead and buried, and never existed at all.

But I know I'm in the minority, for the moment. I've got it, I love it, and I'm already starting to wonder how I ever lived without it.

But I know I won't be alone for long. And my partner Julie serves as a great example of why.

Julie is a pretty good barometer of most of the UK. She uses a PC as a means to an end. Essentially she has learned what she has to and not much more.

But she has really got to grips with Vista, of her own accord. Admittedly, I didn't give her much option as I installed it on her machine as soon as I could.

She says it is intuitive to use, and it is.

In Vista, the brains at Microsoft have finally bridged the gap to the real world. It feels like it is the first operating system that has been designed solely with the end user in mind.

Of course there is a whole bunch of clever stuff behind Vista because, as usual, the select few at Microsoft have seen the future and are shaping it for the rest of us.

You can see where the future is going by the way Vista simplifies file sharing. And then there's its ability to do its own health checks to make sure it is resistant to viruses and external attacks but also to operate as efficiently as possible.

It is the future; there's no doubt about it. And for businesses in particular, the future comes at a cost. But just because it is here now, it doesn't mean businesses have to jump straight away.

The smart move for any company would be to pilot it first. Get a few copies and get a focus group together to test it. I know it sounds simple but that's the best way forward.

Every business has its own ways of doing things and this testing will establish where Vista not only fits in but where it shapes the future. It can flag up any issues that arise and the more technically minded will soon spot the odd glitch - after all, it's typically Microsoft.

But on the whole these will be easily overcome and Vista's intuitiveness will win people over very quickly.

And as the Vista bandwagon begins to roll out, the majority of dissenters will disappear faster than XP itself, and soon even the hardiest of cynics will wonder how they ever managed without it. Until the next king emerges.

Andy Dent is managing director of Innovit.
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Feb 13, 2007
Words:607
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