At last week's official business availability launch for Vista, Microsoft officials were keen to emphasise that many features of the new operating system were particularly useful for the growing population of notebook users. According to Gartner, mobile PC sales in Australia grew 31% in the most recent quarter, compared to just 9% for desktops.
Features frequently singled out by Microsoft as handy for notebook users include Mobility Center, which manages mobility-related settings in a single location; BitLocker, Vista's whole-of-drive encryption system; Sync Center, which controls synchronisation of information between notebooks and other networked devices; and the ability to generate a single system image which can be deployed on a variety of platforms without causing driver issues.
However, those features don't come cheaply. BitLocker, for instance, is only offered in the Enterprise and Ultimate versions of Vista. Enterprise is only available to customers under the Software Assurance licensing scheme -- thus effectively cutting out any medium-sized business -- while Ultimate is the most expensive choice available ($751 for new users, compared to $565 for the Business release)
Businesses who want to take advantage of ultra-cheap notebooks -- an expanding segment of the marketplace by many vendors -- may also get short shrift. Microsoft expects that the Home Basic edition of Vista will be used on many discount machines, but under its software lifecycle policy, Home Basic isn't included in extended support agreements.