VISUAL NEWSLETTER – MAY 2008           




Microsoft announced another deadline for conversion from Windows XP to Windows Vista, that being June 30th, 2008. Already, cracks have formed once again in the supplier network as major players IBM, Lenovo & Dell have decided to continue to offer Windows XP under the Windows Vista Downgrade program.


Simply put, this allows users of Vista Business & Ultimate editions to downgrade, if they prefer, to Windows XP Professional Edition. This offer will not be made for Windows Home Edition so new home users may be stuck with Windows Vista after June 30th, 2008.


Windows Vista continues to be the subject of a lot of ridicule, not only in Apple Macintosh ads, but across businesses in general. Most businesses have opted to bypass this version of Windows in favour of the next version, code named Windows 7. It will be interesting to see how Microsoft bounces back from this fiasco.


Under the current downgrade plan Microsoft counts each Windows XP installation as a Windows Vista installation so their sales numbers still seem good. In the real world more and more people seem to be making the switch to Apple, which for a home computer makes a degree of sense.  Most home computers do a little word processing, browse the internet and perform a variety of multi-media tasks. The Apple can perform all of these things with better overall reliability than a PC.


The Apple has even become something of a status symbol at colleges and universities where Apple Laptops now outsell the less expensive PC Laptops regardless of whether they come with XP or Vista. This is curious since Vista was to be more “Apple Like”.


Apple hardware and operating systems are all produced by the same company, which results in better quality control. The operating system is more closed so that only larger companies can write software for the Apple. This also means that Viruses, Spyware and such have a harder time invading the insides of an Apple computer.


On the other hand the more open PC market has led to lower prices. A PC Laptop or Desktop can be purchased for as little as $500 as compared to $1300 for the lowest priced Apple. There is also a far greater range of software written for PC’s, both good and bad, which is the major reason that most businesses continue to use them for Accounting and most business related tasks.


Should Microsoft continue their quest for glitz over substance, then it will be interesting to see whether more businesses eventually move over to Apple as well.




Microsoft has purchased several Accounting Programs in recent years and blended them into a product line know as Microsoft Dynamics. The individual products have been given a facelift and now all somewhat resemble Outlook 2003 which was the technology base on which the user interface was built.


This has some distinct advantages in that the operation of each of their products is very similar. Users that are already familiar with Microsoft Office already have many of the skills necessary to operate the software. Each individual product has different strengths and abilities. Some are well suited to Distribution Companies, while others are better in the Manufacturing or in Service oriented businesses.


Since these products now share technology with Microsoft Office, the interface from the Accounting System to Word, Excel or Outlook is fairly smooth. You can select a report and pick Excel as the output format. Or you can print an invoice, selecting e-mail as the delivery method for the customer. All of these features and interfaces make a variety of tasks easier.


Since these products are backed by Microsoft you can be relatively sure that they are financially stable which has not been the case with many other Accounting Systems. Many good systems have fallen by the wayside over the years due to financial problems.


This association with Microsoft makes a variety of technologies available but there are some potential drawbacks which may ultimately affect the long term cost of these Accounting Programs. With programs this sophisticated it is pretty much a given that you will be on an annual update program. To avoid supporting multiple versions, Microsoft will likely try to maintain a single stable version of each product.


This potentially becomes a problem whenever Microsoft releases a new version of Windows or Microsoft Office. With the focus on profit and limiting the lifetimes of products to about 5 years you may find that every few years you will need to make a semi-major investment upgrading Microsoft Windows or Microsoft Office versions to maintain compatibility.


Microsoft hopes to integrate all of this into an annual fee per computer which will keep all users on the same version of all of their products. While this is likely a worthwhile goal, recent problems with Windows Vista have highlighted the risk of living on the Bleeding Edge of Technology. It will be interesting to see how well this strategy works over the next few years.