Vista in the Connected Home

Back in 1999 and 2000, David Chernicoff started a conversation with me, Paul Thurrott, and other "Windows IT Pro" editors about the increasing importance of home technology. We did a lot of research and found that IT pros are the vanguard of home technology adoption and implementation and serve as the default technical support for their friends and family. That conversation eventually led us to create the Connected Home Web site (www.connectedhomemag.com) and email newsletter.

I’m thinking about Connected Home for a couple of different reasons. First, I had a conversation last week with several Microsoft and non-Microsoft people. We were talking about IT pro customer satisfaction with Microsoft and its products, and the topic of affinity came up. The idea was that if Microsoft made IT pros’ experiences with home technology easier, those IT pros might be more satisfied with Microsoft products overall. That idea prompted someone to raise the question about how well Microsoft understands IT pros as people who use technology outside their job.

To answer that question, I went back to our research on the Connected Home audience. Here’s what I found: Not surprisingly, IT pros are heavy consumers of all sorts of technical equipment and gadgets, including state-of-the-art entertainment technology. More than 85 percent own a PC at home, and 82 percent own multiple PCs. Most (82 percent) have a broadband Internet connection at home. And IT pros are early adopters of all technology and home electronics products.

That part about being early adopters is what made me think of Windows Vista. "Windows IT Pro" readers have been telling me that although they’re in no hurry to deploy Vista in their business organizations, most of them are already using Vista personally. Presumably, if you’re reading this newsletter, you’re probably one of those people already using Vista. Obviously, I’m not typical of the "Windows IT Pro" audience, but I wonder if my use of Vista at home is very different from yours. In a household that consists of my husband and me, we have three laptops, a Tablet PC, and two desktop PCs (and the purchase of a new Vista desktop is imminent). One laptop, a new HP Media Center PC, is running Vista Media Center Edition; my tiny Fujitsu P1500 LifeBook Tablet PC is running Vista (but it doesn’t have the horsepower to run full Aero); and one desktop is running Vista Ultimate. (As an aside that validates the findings about Connected Home types being early adopters of entertainment technology, we also have three HD TVs and two digital video recorders.) I imagine that IT pros are adopting Vista for personal use because they like having the latest technology. But using Vista for a while before rolling it out in a business scenario also makes sense because IT pros who've worked with Vista at home will have insights about concerns that end users face when working with Vista in the office. I know I’ll be ahead of my fellow end users when our company deploys Vista this summer. So how are you personally and professionally using Vista? Are you an early adopter of home technology and a tech-support resource for your family and neighbors? What kinds of home technology do you have? Do your experiences with Microsoft technology outside of your work environment affect your satisfaction with Microsoft products for business? I’ll be eager to hear from you, either in the comments section attached to this article on the Web, or in email messages to [email protected]

Congratulations!
The second reason why Connected Home is on my mind today is because the Connected Home Express email newsletter was just named our company’s enewsletter of the year by a companywide committee of internal Penton Media editors. I have to congratulate Jason Bovberg, the editor responsible for Connected Home. Thank you for keeping the faith and doing such a great job, Jason!

Resources
As always, I want to end this commentary by pointing you to some useful resources. Paul Thurrott has started his tour through Vista’s features. Check out Paul’s "Windows Vista Feature Focus: Welcome Center" at http://www.winsupersite.com/showcase/winvista_ff_welcome.asp. This overview of the Welcome Center is a great refresher if you haven’t looked at it lately. And thinking about those end users, this Feature Focus series will be a great reference for you and your corporate users when you deploy Vista in your organization.

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