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As Microsoft heads into 2007, which will be marked by the general availability of Windows Vista, Office 2007 and Exchange 2007 in late January, analysts weigh in with their predictions for the year.

The most interesting of these is the fact that one of the largest challenges Redmond will face in 2007 and beyond is convincing its large, and growing, installed base to upgrade to this new wave of products.

I spoke to three analysts – Al Gillen of IDC, Michael Cherry of Directions on Microsoft and Rob Enderle of the Enderle Group – about their predictions for the year, what they saw as Microsoft’s biggest challenges going forward, and the greatest threats to its business. This is what they had to say:

Al Gillen, vice president of research at IDC

Predictions:

(1) Consumer sales and shipments will shift to Vista immediately; enterprise adoption will lag.

(2) Customers will evaluate Office 2007 independently of Vista, so any broad movement to Office 2007 is likely to be dampened by the slow adoption of the new operating system.

(3) 2007 will not just be a year of purely selling new products…

Pointer Click here to read the full report on Microsoft-Watch.