Vista is finally here - at least for companies that buy Windows licenses in bulk and think Microsoft's first new operating system (OS) in five years is worth the cost.

Microsoft released the long awaited OS today after months of build-up, along with the latest version of its business suite, Microsoft Office 2007.

The Redmond, Wash. computing giant has promised stronger security with Vista, as well as a more powerful and graphically dynamic OS. Home consumers can get Vista on Jan. 30.

Media reports questioned whether some large corporations, which already believe Windows XP to be reliable, would be willing to make the effort to install on their networks.

Ken Dunham, director of the Rapid Response Team at iDefense, told today that a number of unexpected issues occur with any major product release.

"As with any new release of an operating system, we are confident that there will be the standard problems of driver updates and incompatibilities that exist for a period of time following the release," he said. "We also believe that, as is usual, some unexpected issues will arise over a period of time, once the product is deployed on a global widespread basis."

Earlier this year Microsoft chairman Bill Gates promised the OS would be less dependent on passwords, but would offer stronger and simpler-to-understand security for both home users and IT administrators.

Speaking at a press conference at the NASDAQ stock exchange in New York City, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said more than 200 million people will be using the new products by the end of the year.

"These are game-changing products," he said. "It's an incredible step forward for business computing in a year of unprecedented innovation from Microsoft."

Dunham said companies shouldn't look at Vista as an immediate fix-all for their security issues.

"It's critical to view security enhancements as a process rather than an endpoint," he said. "Vista is an important development that will mature over time, as it is tested, refined and built upon."

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