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There's been concern, at least outside the company, that the anticipation around Vista will hurt holiday sales of PCs. What should the PC industry do until Vista ships?
Johnson: Well, we work very closely with our retail partners, PC manufacturers and the industry.
I think the work we're doing around defining the "Windows Vista-capable" PCs, so that people who are buying PCs know they're going to be capable of running Windows Vista, and the work we're doing collectively in the industry will support a good holiday season.
Will you offer free upgrades to Vista to people who buy PCs during the holiday season?
Johnson: We are considering all different types of opportunities?you know, what is the appropriate transition plan, in the form of some kind of technology guarantee or some program that we would do. We haven't announced anything, but the marketing teams are working on that, with feedback from PC manufacturers and retailers.
So there's likely to be something?
Johnson: Yeah, there's likely to be something, and they're working on specifics now.
The enterprise search tool that Microsoft showed off this week seems to be its first effort to bring the Live idea to large businesses. How does Live apply to them? And what are we likely to see next?
Johnson: First of all, the concept that we introduced today is this concept of enterprise information management, which is much broader than search. It's really about enabling information workers to find, use and share the information that's relevant to them...whether that's data that resides in PCs or SharePoint sites, or structured data that's in databases and line of business applications, and then being able to bring that together in the Windows Live search client.
You (can) look at the evolution of distribution of software updates as one example. Through Software Update Server and SMS (Systems Management Server), we're constantly pumping out software updates over the Internet, as a service that complements the software that customers run on premise. They've been able to use that as a way to dramatically reduce costs of just owning and operating and keeping their IT infrastructure running.
Other examples: You know we made an acquisition of a company called FrontBridge, which is a back-end service that connects up with Microsoft Exchange. Basically, (it) will filter out spam before it even goes into the firewall for that customer's Exchange Server. So there's another example of software plus services relevant for business customers.
Bill Gates today talked about businesses being more willing than before to have their know-how, their data and their software running on other people's servers. Which types of applications lend themselves most to that?
Johnson: When it comes to line-of-business applications, different size customers will look at different scenarios and apply decisions relative to things that they would want to run on premise, versus things that they would look to have hosted and run as a service.
I'd just highlight the demo that was done (at Wednesday's CEO Summit) around Virtual Earth, and this concept of mash-ups. Look at the scenario that they showed around British Petroleum; that's a line-of-business application that's very important to them, the way they look at weather patterns and things in the Gulf of Mexico, where they've got these offshore rigs, and how that's going to influence business decisions that they take.
(They are) running a service with our Virtual Earth technology running on our severs combined with some technology that they run on premise that mashes up an application that's relevant to them. I think we're going to see more and more of those types of applications.
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