- First Month Passes with No Vista-Specific Patches
- Like Vista, Office 2007 Off to Strong Start

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==== IN THE NEWS

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- First Month Passes with No Vista-Specific Patches
- Like Vista, Office 2007 Off to Strong Start

by Paul Thurrott, thurrott@windowsitpro.com

First Month Passes with No Vista-Specific Patches

On Tuesday, Microsoft released several security patches as part of its monthly security patch release. A good sign is that none of the patches were directly for Windows Vista security, which promises to better secure users than previous Windows versions. Microsoft did, however, provide Vista Ultimate users with a small gift on Tuesday: a prerelease version of the eagerly anticipated Ultimate Extra called Windows DreamScene.

Microsoft released 12 security updates as part of its February 2007 release, six of which were rated "critical," the company's most serious rating. Products affected by these critical problems include Windows (but not Vista), Microsoft Office, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Windows Defender, and Windows Live OneCare, the latter two of which are security products. (One of these products, Windows Defender, is also included in Vista.) Seven of the security updates address so-called zero-day vulnerabilities that have been known about for some time but weren't previously fixed.

On Tuesday, Microsoft also shipped a prerelease version of its DreamScene Ultimate Extra to Vista Ultimate customers. DreamScene enables animated desktop backgrounds called motion desktops, although the prerelease version includes only one motion desktop. Microsoft has publicly demonstrated DreamScene twice since the beginning of the year, but has yet to provide Vista Ultimate customers with any of the motion desktops that the company demonstrated. The motion desktop included with the prerelease version is a rather unexciting rendition of the default Vista Aurora desktop pattern with only subtle animations.

Like Vista, Office 2007 Off to Strong Start

Launching the Microsoft Office 2007 system alongside Vista might have been a brilliant idea after all: Office 2007, the first version of Office to ship alongside a Windows version since 1995, is off to a strong start, with sales in its first week double that of previous Office versions during the same time period.

According to NPD Group, Office sales rose 98 percent during Office 2007's launch week, with retail sales more than doubling. These numbers represent almost twice as many sales as were made during Office 2003's launch week, NPD said.

"With almost zero advertising and marketing until the January 30 retail launch, I expected US commercial license sales of Office 2007 to be significantly below the sales of the previous version," said NPD Group's Analysis Director Chris Swenson. "They weren't. Sales of Office 2007 were significantly better. This was probably one of the most successful retail launches of Microsoft Office ever." Swenson said that NPD Group's figures for Office 2007 were, if anything, conservative, because one of its participating retailers didn't provide sales data for the week of the launch.

NPD also noted that the average selling price of Office rose 23 percent, or $55.62, to $301.33 per unit. This suggests that Microsoft's decision to ship multiple product versions, or SKUs--which it's also doing with Vista--was sound. Despite some confusion in the market about the differences between the many product versions, Microsoft has maintained that a diversified product lineup will result in stronger financial returns.

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