Microsoft rolled out on October 12 a partial list of third-party peripherals and software that will be certified to interoperate with Windows Vista in time for the holiday season. But the company still has yet to drop the much bigger shoe, by announcing the Vista coupon deal that it will offer with its PC partners to entice customers to buy Vista-ready machines, even though Vista won't launch officially until January 2007.
Microsoft is expected to unveil the technical-guarantee coupon deal later this month. But no one at the Digital Life show, at which Microsoft made the Vista compatibility announcement today, uttered a peep about the pending program.
The lack of coupon specifics didn't stop analysts with the Gartner Group (whose track record on Vista predictions lately has been pretty dismal, I have to note) from pouring cold water on Microsoft's coupon plans.
If Microsoft and its partners do end up charging consumers who buy XP Home Edition now the rumored $49 fee to upgrade to Vista Home Basic and $79 to Vista Home Premium, "it is doubtful whether the Express Upgrade program will be able to drive consumer PC sales this holiday season," said the Gartner analysts, via a blog entry. "But if the PCs bought with Windows Media Center will be entitled to a free upgrade coupon, then Microsoft could persuade some of the consumers to purchase Media Center PCs in the fourth quarter," Gartner added.
Like many Microsoft watchers, Gartner is not expecting many businesses to upgrade to Vista in the near term, negating the value of any kind of tech-guarantee coupon deal for even small-business customers.
At Digital Life, Michael Sievert, corporate vice president of Windows Client Marketing, took the wraps off a list of more than 250 hardware and software products from over 50 vendors that already have received either the “Certified for Windows Vista” or “Works with Windows Vista” logo.
Close to 100 percent of the PCs currently on retailers' shelves are at least Windows-Capable, said Justin Hutchinson, group product manager for Windows client, who participated in Sievert's keynote address. Sievert added that most hardware and software introduced over the past few years will be Vista-compatible; the new "certified for Windows Vista" and "Works with Windows Vista" marks are just designed to provide users with an additional level of confidence.
(Exactly which apps are and are not Vista-compatible still remains to be seen, of course.)
Even though Microsoft has been talking about Vista for a long time, at last, "this launch is upon us," Sievert told attendees.