Microsoft announced that Vista, Office 2007, and Exchange Server 2007 are now all available to 'Business' users. While most websites were speculating that this wouldn't be released to anyone (except OEM Manufactures) until January. To most it would appear that Microsoft is trying to get a head start on sales to try to boost their profit margin for the end of 2006, Since this will be the first time that Microsoft has released a product with a year in its title, without actually being that year. The Wall Street Journal seems to think otherwise however.
One thing that we can be sure of is this won't be the last thing that Microsoft releases in the new few months. It would appear that Microsoft is trying to change the way that people look at them. In the article of the Wall Street Journal, they point out that Microsoft has always been one to take others ideas, and build from them, and collect on other peoples innovation. It seems they would be trying to prove that they are starting to take the lead with innovation.
Microsoft has given a chance for businesses to take the leap to vista first. This allows several things to happen when the retail product is launched. First, not many businesses will take to Vista right now because they are already using XP. Businesses see Vista as another cost, and there isn't much of a benefit in spending money to train their employee's, or the cost of implementing it companywide. Since Microsoft released it early, these companies will however, have time for their IT Group to start using and analyzing the new operating system. The more time the IT Department gets to use the product, the smoother implementation will go, which Microsoft will get the credit for in the long run.
Second, the companies that do adopt Vista early, will generate interest for the home user market. Since the employees will be using Vista at work, they will get a chance to see the many useful, and extensive security features that vista employs. This generates an interest to purchase the home version when it is released.