Laid Back Launch Set for Vista Office 2007 

The long wait is finally over! Today, at a launch celebration event in New York, Microsoft will officially unleash its long awaited Windows Vista and Microsoft Office 2007 System products to consumers around the world. Today is only a launch event. Both products will be available tomorrow, January 30.

The question, of course, is whether this kind of launch can generate excitement anymore. More than a decade ago, Microsoft launched Windows 95 and Microsoft Office 95 at a gala event at its Redmond campus. Around the world, eager consumers lined up outside of retail outlets for midnight madness events where they could claim to be among the first to purchase the new products.

Today, Microsoft will spend even more money launching and marketing Vista than it did on Win95, but the launch event seems tame in comparison. And although a few retailers will open at 12 A.M. tomorrow morning, there's none of the buzz or excitement around Vista that we saw more than a decade ago with Win95.

Part of the reason for this shift is market maturity. When Win95 burst onto the scene in 1995, computing was still stuck in the dark ages with nary a high speed Internet connection in sight. Today, much of the world is interconnected and Windows has become much more stable secure and capable. Put simply, Microsoft doesn't have as much to improve on and those who buy Vista will likely do so electronically.

Even Win95's seemingly omnipresent TV advertising campaign where the hip younger generation finds out about what's hot on the Internet would likely fail today. What's hot now is Apple iPods, Xboxes cell phones, and MySpace, not Windows or Office.

And that's too bad. Despite years of delays, Vista is worthy of your attention and consideration. As is, of course, Office 2007, although its promise of increased productivity is unlikely to get anyone too excited these days. After all, that's been the promise of each new Office version.

Intel Takes Next Step in Chip Design 

Today, Intel will outline an evolutionary breakthrough in chip design that will let the company use the smaller, less power hungry designs that are necessary to keep microprocessors on track with Moore's Law. Stung that Intel was ready to make an announcement, IBM will also announce that it will be ready with a similar chip design change, although IBM's new chips will trail Intel's by several months.

Intel essentially figured out how to make microprocessors on a 45nm process which is much smaller and more efficient than the 60nm process typically used today. Various process makers have been working on this sort of miniaturization, but until now they had run into problems with electrical leakage at the smaller die size. "To overcome this problem, Intel is replacing some of the standard silicon components in its chips with a metal called Hafnium," Intel said. "Hafnium is a better insulator than silicon."

IBM's breakthrough chip is reportedly quite similar to Intel's and will also apparently use Hafnium. Both companies are touting these advances as radical breakthroughs, but the reality is that these chip changes simply let both Intel and IBM continue on their current roadmaps in which they plan to release new smaller chip designs every two years. Intel will ship its new chips by late 2007 and AMD plans to ship chips that use IBM's designs sometime in 2008.