Now, I know that many of you might not even know that Siemens makes a SCADA software system, but they do. And, frankly, it is a pretty good one. So it is nice to hear that they've released WinCC v.7.0, which has been adapted to provide a Vista option, without closing off the Windows XP and Windows 2000 avenues that many end users are still clinging to for dear life. The press release points to the following as the major features Siemens believes they have improved WinCC with: "The highly flexible WinCC software ranges from single-user to distributed multi-user systems with redundant servers and cross-site solutions with Web clients. WinCC 7.0, in accordance with Windows Vista, provides image shadows as well as animated GIFs or displays for improved graphics. Operators can use onscreen hover effects where fields change color when touched by a cursor. Additionally, a glass effect feature allows fields to be displayed semi transparently." According to Phil Aponte, HMI Marketing manager for Siemens, the so-called Vista effects are in fact available on WinCC for Windows XP and Windows 2000, as well. Additionally, WinCC 7.0 also is .net compatible, and its new alarm and trend functions enable users to create individual buttons and run the export function from every control. There is a robust online configuration tool for alarm and trend display as well. Other enhancements available with WinCC Version 7.0 include simplifeid language switching, high performance analysis functions, and an integrated MS SQL Server archive data base. And finally, the new version has doubled the number of power tags on standard packages from 256 to 512 and from 1024 to 2048. In addition, Siemens has set up an HMI Center of Competence in the US, under the direction of former US Data SCADA guru Tim Davis. US Data, you may or may not remember, was bought by UGS a while back, and came into the Siemens fold when UGS became a Siemens acquisition. WinCC's significant advantage is that it can be used with the entire range of Siemens products, whether process, hybrid or discrete.