Microsoft's new operating system, Vista, and an updated version of the Office productivity suite, will be available in the U.S. starting at the end of this month (November 30, 2006) to small businesses with five or more computers. Through a special arrangement with CompUSA stores, the Vista Business 2007 and Office Small Business 2007 software -- both of which are designed for small businesses -- will be available at CompUSA for volume licensing. What this means is that small businesses can purchase the software at a CompUSA store like we could in the past, but with several differences: First, small businesses can get access to the software before its general release in January 2007. Second, we small businesses can take advantage of volume licensing if we have five computers or more. With volume licensing, discounts of 10% - 25% are available. Third, many new product features will be available, including improved ease of working with mobile devices on the go, and better ability to sync data between mobile gear and computers back at the office. Security is also improved. Considering the millions of small businesses that use Microsoft products, this is important news. Office Small Business 2007 includes one feature I'm especially excited about: using a special add-on module, you will even be able to save documents as PDF files. According to Cindy Bates, Microsoft Small Business General Manager, the CompUSA deal does not mean Microsoft is moving away from its commitment to its Small Business Specialists, a group of IT consultants who are sometimes (not always) resellers of Microsoft products. Microsoft still recommends that small businesses work with Small Business Specialists. This new arrangement will serve the 50% of small businesses that purchase software at retail stores today. It gives this group new options they were missing out on previously. One expert is recommending that because of the enhanced security and remote management features, small businesses adopt Vista early. I, too, think it is a good idea to move to Vista sooner rather than later, if your computers are newer and have at least 1 Gigabyte of RAM memory. Visit the Microsoft Small Business center for more information about the products. Read the press release here.