Launching of Office, Vista and Exchange
by: Jerry Liao

Last February 1, 2007, Microsoft’s latest operating system – Microsoft Vista was launched in the Philippines. During the same event, Microsoft also launched Microsoft Office 2007 and Exchange 2007. The event was attended by around 1,500 from the business community. I arrived at the venue around 9:30am and I was already sitted at the back since the ballroom was already jampacked.

I was able to catch the opening remarks of Chris Atkinson, Microsoft Asia Pacific President and the demonstration of Mr. Jojo Ayson. Part of the presentation was some of Microsoft’s partners answering questions and sharing their strategies on how they intend to implement Microsoft Vista in their respective companies.

Around lunchtime, the press was given the opportunity to meet and ask questions about the event over lunch. I was able to meet Amelia Agrawal – Director, Analyst Relations & Business Group Public Relation, Asia Pacific Region, James DeBragga – Senior Director, Windows Product Marketing, Ninis T Samuel – Windows International Marketing Team, and Chay Mondejar – Windows Client Product Manager.

The discussion with the people from Microsoft was interesting, but it got more interesting when Chris Atkinson joined us and Chris sat beside me which gave me an opportunity to interview him one-on-one. Let me share with you how the interview went:

Jerry Liao (JL): Are you happy with the turn-out of your event?

Cris Atkinson (CA): Yes. I believed there are more than 1,400 people who attended the event. One of the biggest attendance we ever had in South East Asia.

JL: I am using Office 2007 under Windows XP. May I ask if there are any difference if I will be using Office 2007 under Vista.

CA: I don’t think there’s much difference except that XP is more boring and Vista is more exciting. Office 2007 will work as it is expected to perform whether its running under XP or Vista. How do you find Office 2007?

JL: So far so good especially the Live Preview for Powerpoint. Do you consider the hardware upgrade a deterent or a hindrance for people to upgrade to Microsoft Vista, considering that it needs at least 1GB of memory and Core Due processor to run.

CA: I don’t think so. Microsoft conducted a survey in Four countries in Asia, Philippines included – I believed there are about 500 respondents for each country. And the result was most if not all of them said that they expected that the cost of buying a new PC now will be higher when they procure there old PC. In other words, people are ready to spend for upgrades – be it hardware or software. And for those who are buying a new PC, they would want to have Vista as their OS.

JL: For those who are buying a new PC, I don’t think they will have any choice since most of the hardware providers will install Vista as its default OS. Aside from the hardware cost, buying Vista would be another added cost – Vista has a Starter Edition which is already available in other developing countries. When will this become available in the Philippines?

CA: I would like to believe that the Starter Edition of Vista will be available in the Philippines within the year (2007). This will give everyone the opportunity to use Vista at a more affordable price.

JL: On another note, in my own opinion, I will upgrade to Vista not because of its user interface but more of its new security features. May I ask you what new security strategies are you implementing now?

CA: There’s nothing new really. This is simply a continuation of our Trustworthy Computing and we are putting more emphasis on security because our users / clients expect us to. We are making sure that Three (3) factors are implemented:

1. All our developers / programmers are trained to include security in their products;

2 Transparency is another area where Microsoft will issue bulletins or advisories if in case there will any problems / flaws discovered. We are encouraging our users to report to us any flaws or problems so that Microsoft can issue it right away.

3. We will strengthen our awareness campaign. We will continue to inform and educate people on how to protect their PCs from security threats which we have added security tools within Vista for them to achieve their security needs with ease.

JL: So do you have a separate division or department that are solely focussing on security?

CA: Security is now a must for all our developers. But you are right in a way because there is a group who are constantly monitoring any security threats reported and making sure that its properly investigated and addressed.

JL: Windows Defender is currently offered Free. How long will the product and updates stay free?

CA: Microsoft has not discuss the selling of Microsoft Defender or offering it as a separate product. Our focus now is how to improve the security of our products and our users are expecting it from us. As of now, it would be difficult for us to charge for Windows Defender.

JL: Other security providers like Symantec and McAfee are your partners before but are now your competitors. Do you think it’s a good move that you now have your own security product?

CA: With regards to the issue of partners turning competitors, obviously it’s not because they are now suing us. But then again, Microsoft is entering the security arena because our users expect it from us or is asking us to. Users wants to have a more secure application and we are simply responding to the requirement of our users.

JL: So are you saying that Security is not a business for Microsoft?

CA: It is a business in a sense because having a secure product will definitely increase our customer satisfaction which will translate to higher sales. But if you mean selling our security products is a business for Microsoft, I would say it’s too early to tell yet. Microsoft is responding to the call of our clients and Microsoft is offering another option in as far as security is concerned.

JL: If that is true, then why is it that a user is required to uninstall other security applications before they are allowed to install Microsoft Defender?

CA: I don’t believe that it is the case, I don’t see why we will do that but let me get back to you on that.

My interview with Chris was cut inadvertently because another press member rudely interrupted us. Anyhow, I would like to thank Mr. Chris Atkinson for the opportunity and for his straightforward, no nonsense replies. I would say that this interview is one of the best interviews I ever had with someone from Microsoft. Because of this interview, the day indeed was a LOVE day. Congratulations to Microsoft.



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