'Marketplace' Report: The Vista OS After multiple delays, Microsoft's Vista operating system will go on sale Tuesday. Vista is the latest version of Windows, and it's the first upgrade in more than five years.
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'Marketplace' Report: The Vista OS

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'Marketplace' Report: The Vista OS

'Marketplace' Report: The Vista OS

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Back now with DAY TO DAY. Windows is getting a new look. Windows is, of course, the operating system that runs 90 percent of the world's personal computers. Tonight at midnight, Microsoft's latest version of Windows called Vista goes on sale. And it's the first Windows upgrade in more than five years.

Joining us is John Dimsdale with MARKETPLACE. Hi, John.

JOHN DIMSDALE: Hello, Madeleine.

BRAND: Well, how much is this going to cost to put this on my computer?

DIMSDALE: Well, off the shelf, it will be a $100, but you don't necessarily need to put it on right away. Your old Windows is going to work in your old computer. But eventually you are going to end up with it probably in a new PC, unless you buy an Apple computer. And that's a real risk here for Microsoft.

If you're asking users to switch their operating system, they might just take the opportunity to switch to a Mac. But Vista is supposed to be a lot better than XP, more stable, better security, nicer to look at, easier to use. Although it does mean we're going to have to learn new ways of running some of those familiar programs.

BRAND: And Microsoft has promised a new operating system for a long time, I guess more than three years. Why did it take so long?

DIMSDALE: Well, partly because of the number of hacker attacks on Windows over the last few years. Industry analyst Rob Enderle has been following Microsoft's troubles in getting Vista to market.

Mr. ROB ENDERLE (IT Analyst): One of the reasons for delay or the big reason was that they had to go back and patch Windows XP, which is the previous version of the product to address a massive wave of security attacks that came at us after 2001.

About halfway through the Vista release, they actually had to go back and restart the effort because of the level of security problems that were happening, even it had to be redesigned in process. And that resulted in being late.

BRAND: So John, I guess this is a big sigh of relief, that finally Vista is out and getting to consumers.

DIMSDALE: Yeah, very much so for Microsoft. Windows is the company's biggest profit-maker, $44 billion in sales. It comes also with an upgrade in some other Microsoft products like the Office Suite - the word processing and spreadsheet and browser. Wall Street thinks Vista will be a winner from Microsoft.

The stock prices has gone up 40 percent in the last few months. And it's also good for hardware makers. Vista needs a fast computer, so chip makers and computer retailers are all looking for a real boost from Vista.

Coming up later on MARKETPLACE today, we've got a story on how difficult it is to build major software programs, which is another reason why Vista has been delayed for so long.

BRAND: Thank you, John. That's John Dimsdale for Public Radio's daily business show, MARKETPLACE. And that's produced by American Public Media.


Madeleine, on tomorrow's show, a source on Vista possibly even more authoritative than John Dimsdale: the DAY TO DAY interview with Bill Gates.


Alex, you have that interview. And I think Microsoft calls this, what, the big wow?


BRAND: So you better hold a seat to that, that wow-ish fire there.

CHADWICK: I bet he's fretting about the interview right now. We'll see.

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