Windows Vista's good looks will help drive consumer sales, and it also will improve the computing experience for some business users. A handful of business-software vendors, in fact, will introduce products on Thursday they've been working on for months that are designed to utilize the best of what Vista has to offer.
For enterprise-resource planning vendor SAP, the Windows Presentation Foundation in Vista is key to an upgraded service it will offer retail customers starting next year. SAP's zone-optimization service includes delivery of data that helps retailers make decisions about how to market and price items at various stories based on demographics, climate, location, and other things. The upgraded service will deliver to retail managers' desktops an improved visual representation of this data, based partly on Vista's graphics strengths.
Retailers, for example, could toggle among dozens of store locations presented using Microsoft's Visual Earth software. They'll be able to zoom in on a specific location and look at data such as income levels in a three-dimensional chart form. The Windows Presentation Foundation makes it possible to "bring in all the data sources and tie it into the mapping software," explains Rick Chavie, SAP's senior VP for retail and wholesale industries. Screenshots of SAP's upcoming service were scheduled to go up on Microsoft's site today.
Business-intelligence software provider Hyperion, meanwhile, is announcing a new application environment that's designed to extend business intelligence to more people throughout an organization by making it easier to use and access on Windows desktops -- particularly if they're using Vista. Hyperion System 9 Smart Space lets desktop users create gadgets for specific functions, such as a "briefing book" where they can store the latest versions of their most commonly used reports. In Vista, those gadgets are found on the desktop's Windows Sidebar.
Another Hyperion gadget runs like a ticker along the bottom of the screen and can be customized for specific information, such as keeping a manager updated on the sales of a specific product. "The gadgets are specific to who you are and what you need," says Tobin Gilman, senior director of product marketing at Hyperion. "As a casual user I don't have to worry about the 10,000 other features in the product."
And AutoDesk is announcing a collaboration with Microsoft today to integrate its Design Web Format technology with Vista. Using data compression, Design Web Format lets designers and engineers transfer CAD files and 3-D models at a fraction of their size. The collaboration means users will be able to view and manage DWF design information on Vista workstations, without additional downloads or plug-ins, using a viewer compatible with the XML Paper Specification. Although it's a niche audience, Microsoft anticipates CAD users to be among the early adopters of Vista.