Although many HP 3000 sites say that Microsoft's Vista desktop won't be a part of their near-term strategy, the 3000 vendor which counts the greatest number of desktops running a product will be ready for Vista. Well, ready now — and then ready a little later, in the case of software serving HP hosts.
The split schedule springs from the merged entity of AttachmateWRQ — or simply re-named Attachmate, following a corporate rebranding of the combined company this summer. Attachmate sells a host access solution called EXTRA! X-treme, software that offers functionality similar to WRQ's Reflection, but for OpenVMS, Unix and IBM systems only.
The connectivity for HP 3000 systems is left to the redoubtable Reflection, whose Service Pack 2 of version 14 is scheduled to be ready for Vista in March of next year. EXTRA! X-treme will be ready next month, the same time Microsoft is promising its initial release of its overhauled Windows. Attachmate says that X-treme is the first piece of commercial software to receive the Microsoft Certified for Windows Vista logo. The "next-generation terminal emulation" program, as Attachmate calls Reflection, will be ready in the spring — probably long before Vista gets even a toehold inside HP 3000 shops, both those migrating as well as homesteading.
Just as there are two separate releases of the Attachmate host connection products — products that appear to serve the same set of hosts, with WRQ adding HP support — Microsoft will be rolling out Vista on two timetables, too. Volume license business customers will be looking for Vista in November, if Microsoft meets its schedules. The rest of the world's Windows users get the chance to convert their desktops in January, provided the testing of the product uncovers no new roadblocks.
Microsoft is still calling Vista's ship-ready version a Release Candidate, but Attachmate is making no such distinctions about its Vista-ready products, either those X-treme ones or the SP 2 of Reflection. You can keep an eye on the stickiest parts of the Vista release by looking at the European IT community's battles with Microsoft. There, the preference for Microsoft's search engine built into Vista, as well as a file format to compete with Acrobat PDFs, has raised concerns. Microsoft says its made Vista's search bar easier to tweak so users will be able to Google.
As for the new XML-based document sharing format, XPS, it saves documents that cannot be easily modified. Microsoft doesn't want to submit XPS to a standards body and allow other companies to license it for little or no cost, like PDF, because it would reduce Microsoft's own competitive benefit from the format.
But Europe is far too large a market to let wee things like proprietary document formats tie up the chances of selling the biggest Windows upgrade since 2001. Microsoft's general counsel Brad Smith said the European Union's Economic Commission is going to get what is required for balanced trade. After all, more than $350 million in EU fines over Windows XP is still in play. Smith said the EU's commission
advised us that it wanted us to submit this new [XPS] specification to a standards organization. We have agreed to do so. We will move forward to submit the XPS format to an international standards association, and we will be doing that shortly. The Commission also advised that we should make certain changes to the licensing terms on which we make this specification available for other software developers to use in their products. We agreed to make these changes as well.
Is Vista shipping on time? Well, let's say that HP's Montecito-based Integrity servers were a lot closer to being delivered on schedule with Intel's chips — and Montecito held back those Integrity units by a year. Microsoft disappointed the consumer side of the industry by missing the year-end holiday window. But Microsoft says January is now really the same as December, gift (and IT budget)-wise.
"January has emerged as almost a second Christmas, with gift cards, sales, etc. It's a new trend," said Microsoft's product manager Brad Goldberg. We couldn't spin it better ourselves.