Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is looking through its Windows at a whole new Vista, and the company's Outlook seems rosy. Chief Software Architect Bill Gates was the main attraction at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles, and it was his job to set the tone for the upcoming Windows Vista operating system and the new Office 12 upgrade.

One of Office 12's big new features is the results-oriented user interface, which streamlines the way a user carries out tasks. According to Microsoft's press release, Office 12 eliminates menus and toolbars, replacing them with "graphical command tabs" which pop up in anticipation of a need. It also seems to have the capability to edit documents more quickly and precisely with a set of layouts dubbed "Live Preview technology," which will let users choose from several different ideas for document presentation.

Assuming Microsoft's next upgrade cycle succeeds and is accepted wholeheartedly by consumers and businesses alike, ace PC distributor and Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) might be a stock worth looking at. If developers begin to share Microsoft's enthusiasm for Windows Vista software, PC sales could rise on a wave of killer Vista apps.

So how are developers taking all this? Too early to tell, I'd say. But keep in mind that Microsoft's Windows franchise is a bona fide monopoly on the desktop. If you have a computer in your house, chances are it's a Windows-based machine -- sorry, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL). This gives developers an incentive to have as positive an attitude as possible toward the upgrade. Sure, there's a lot of anti-Microsoft sentiment out there -- but if you want to sell software to the masses and make some cool revenue numbers, you have to be on board the Microsoft train. The company says that it will offer up some great tools for developing Vista-based programs; we'll have to wait and see how great they are.

Have you been thinking about investing in Microsoft's equity? Has that depressing range been keeping you away? Personally, I think the company is set to benefit from Windows Vista and Office 12, so buying ahead of the fireworks might be wise. Even if the range continues longer than one would like, keep in mind that, as Mathew Emert has discussed, this stock is potentially one of the best dividend plays out there.

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Fool contributor Steven Mallas owns none of the companies mentioned. The Fool has a disclosure policy.