The launch of Vista, Office 2007 and Exchange Server 2007 represents Microsoft's biggest ever product launch, the company's UK managing director Gordon Frazer said on Thursday.
In a bullish speech at the launch of the three products in London, Frazer argued that the launch was "even bigger" than the push around Windows 95 and Office 95 over a decade ago.
"These three products are significantly richer in terms of features. This represents the biggest level of innovation we've ever delivered," said Frazer.
Microsoft claims that the new software will help employees in British firms work and collaborate more efficiently and cut costs.
"UK companies may be great innovators but they are falling behind at turning innovation into business productivity," said Frazer,citing research which found that 80 percent of the gap in productivity between the US and the UK came through a more effective use of technology.
"For us, it's about people driving businesses to success," Frazer explained, suggesting that small UK firms "seem to stumble" today when they try and grow into large companies.
Vista, Office 2007 and Exchange 12 have all been used by actual companies as part of Microsoft's beta testing program. According to Frazer, 79 percent of test companies thought that the new user interfaces would make their staff more productive, and that the new applications would mean between 60 and 65 percent fewer "mouse clicks and mouse travel".
Microsoft demonstrated some of the new features at the launch, which took place at Arsenal Football Club's Emirates Stadium. The demo showed how employees could use Vista's search to find co-workers with expertise on a particular project, check if they are online and then contact them over instant messaging.
CapGemini is one of Microsoft's testers. Mark Walker, global product director for infrastructure management at CapGemini, told the event that staff who had beta-tested Microsoft's new products had reduced their email volume by 25 percent.
"Being able to contact people immediately through instant messaging speeds up business decisions, and reduces email traffic and therefore archiving," Walker said.
Analysts and senior IT professionals contacted by ZDNet UK have generally reported that take-up of Vista will be slow but steady, with many companies likely to wait until 2008.