Better Together: Windows Vista and Office  WOW!

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OK. I work for Microsoft, so I know you will read this with some suspicion. However, keep in mind that first and foremost I'm a technology enthusiast and a physician. I don't really need this job, and have no reason to try to "sell" you anything. So when I gush about Windows Vista and Office 2007, I'm not beholden to anyone.

I've been working with early beta versions of Windows Vista and Office 2007 for the past 4 months or so. I first loaded beta versions of Office on several of my machines. Later, I did clean installs of Windows Vista beta 2 and Office beta 2. I'm now working with Windows Vista RC1 and Office 2007 beta 2 on a brand new Toshiba Protégé M400 Tablet with an Intel dual-core processor, 128MB video card, and 2 Gigs of RAM. The new machine is fully capable of running Vista in aero "glass" mode. My other machines, a Motion LS1400 Tablet, a Motion LS800 Tablet, and a Toshiba 4110 Tablet have also been loaded with Vista, Office 2007, or both with mixed results. I say mixed results because none of those machines is really beefy enough to run Vista in glass, and the processing power and smaller memory aren't optimized for Vista. But I should add that I have Windows Vista and Office 2007 running on my little LS800 with only 500 MB of RAM, and if one doesn't mind a lot of hard drive "thinking" even the LS800 can do the job.

As a physician, I have an eye for art and science and a loathing of things that make computing harder than it needs to be. I therefore have a deep appreciation for a beautiful and intuitive "user interface" in any application. It's something that's lacking in far too many healthcare industry applications today. All I can say is that once you start using Vista you'll never go back. And when the ISV community starts coming forth with healthcare applications on Vista it is going to be the dawn of a new age in clinical computing; not just because of the user interface and amazing graphics, but the sheer computing power of a new generation of machines and the capabilities that Vista will unleash.

Office 2007 is also a significant step up. Every doc I know uses PowerPoint, and you are going to love the intuitive nature of the new "ribbon" controls and many other features that will help you make brilliant presentations for clinical case conferences, grand rounds, or other teaching venues. Your colleagues will think that you must have hired a graphic artist to design those appetizing 3D graphs and charts. Little will they know, PowerPoint did all the work for you. The same is true for Excel, Word, etc. You'll just never want to work with prior versions again. The power is ramped up even more in the enterprise setting where Office 2007 can be combined with SharePoint 2007, Live Communication Server, SQL Server 2005, SQL Reporting, InfoPath and more to enable a plethora of communication and collaboration capabilities, enterprise search, business and clinical decision making, and insight to information at the point of care. And by the way, if you love Outlook you are going to be blown away by Outlook 2007.

There's more good news coming in the next generation of hardware devices that will not only run Vista, but do so in form factors custom built with healthcare in mind. That's about all they'll let me say for now, but I've been privy to see what's coming and it is going to be wonderful for clinicians everywhere.

Now, mind you, my experience with Windows Vista hasn't been all roses. After all, we're still talking beta software here. I've been frustrated by drivers that don't always install, or applications that won't work. I've probably rebuilt my machines more times than most of you would ever want to do. But my new Toshiba is running near perfect now and aside from a few annoying inconveniences (like not be able to use my Verizon PC 5220 wireless card because VZAccess doesn't yet support Windows Vista) I'm a very happy camper. Response times for my applications are lightening fast. Boot time is a fraction of what it is on my older machines. And have I said enough times how amazing and beautiful the user interface is? WOW! You're going to love this. But, start saving for that new machine. For maximum enjoyment, you're going to want to run Vista on a Porsche not a Yugo.

Bill Crounse, MD    Healthcare Industry Director     Microsoft Corporation

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