An often irreverent look at some of the week's other news, including the business launch event for Vista, Office 2007, and Exchange 2007, demand for Windows Vista, Gears of War sales stats, Sony, elderly Mac users, free copies of Vista, and so much more...
I spent the day in New York yesterday for Microsoft's business launch event for Windows Vista, Office 2007, and Exchange 2007. You could feel the palpable sense of relief that Vista, especially, was finally complete, was getting good reviews, and really does appear to be of very high quality. Five years, my God.
I always find humor at Microsoft's business launches, because I get to see Microsofties wearing suits, which is a pretty rare event. I won't call out any names, but you know who you are. I guess the new saying about suits is, "weddings, funerals, and Microsoft business launch events."
Sitting in the audience before the launch event, I spied Tim Huckaby's name in the list of people who were going to speak. Tim is an old friend, and absolutely one of the nicest guys in the world, so I jumped up, ran past a protesting security guide and went to the backstage area where I immediately found Tim (which was just weird), reclining in a chair and being made up for his appearance (the big star). So I motioned for the makeup woman to give me the brush and I went to work on Tim's face before he realized it was me. It was pretty classic, and I'm surprised I didn't get shot going back there. I don't have a future in the fashion world, certainly.
With December finally upon us, I guess it's time to start thinking about the holidays. This is difficult, because it's been so balmy and warm lately, giving the area a "Christmas in Arizona" vibe. But I'm sure the year will be over before we know it. Hopefully I can finish my Vista review before then.
It looks like we'll be doing another home swap in Paris, France next summer, this time for four weeks. Plans are still being made, but we're excited to go back. This year, we stayed in a home just south of Paris, in L'Hay les Roses, but it looks like we'll be in Fontenay Sous Bois next year, in the east suburbs, and very close to our friends there.
Microsoft Launches Business Versions of Vista and Office 2007, and Exchange 2007
So it's come to this: Crammed into a tiny room somewhere in NASDAQ's Times Square offices, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and friends finally signed off on the public release of Windows Vista, at least for business customers. The company also shipped the business versions of Office 2007 and will soon ship Exchange Server 2007 as well. Curiously, NASDAQ kept the press waiting in their semi-outdoors waiting area while Ballmer rang the NASDAQ "bell" (which is really a button that triggers a buzzer, but whatever). We were all very excited about that. But the event was nice. What we're all really waiting for, of course, is the consumer launch.
About that Vista Consumer Launch
Well, I was able to confirm that the consumer launch for Windows Vista will be a huge event, and Microsoft did publicly state that it will spend more on launching Windows Vista than it did on Windows 95, which is still held up as the event against which all launch events are measured. (Ballmer said they would spend "hundreds of millions of dollars" on it.) However, it seems that Microsoft is concerned about having the main launch event in a location in which reporters from both the east and west coast can get to easily. I guess that cancels out my hope that they host it in a crazy location like Tahiti or New Zealand. It looks like we're going to be invading a major US city sometime in late January instead. Ah well.
Microsoft: Big Demand for Windows Vista
While analysts continue to issue cautious warnings about the slowness of corporate upgrades to Windows Vista (and Office 2007), Microsoft says that its own internal data is far more positive. In fact, they expect Windows Vista upgrades to far outstrip the pace of Windows XP, which is now installed on over 450 million PCs worldwide. But if you're looking for numbers, check out this statistic: Microsoft expects over 200 million customers to be using at least one of the products--Vista, Office 2007, or Exchange 2007--by the end of 2007. These are "game changing" products, CEO Steve Ballmer said.
Gears Goes Platinum
Rarely does any video game live up to its hype, but Microsoft's latest blockbuster release for the Xbox 360, "Gears of Wars," appears to have done just that. In just two weeks, the Xbox 360 exclusive game has sold over 1 million copies, making it the fastest-selling Xbox 360 title ever released. The game had previously garnered the highest number of pre-orders of any Microsoft title since "Halo 2" in 2004. (That game, of course, is still the best selling Xbox title of all time, and it sold 2.5 million copies in its first 24 hours of availability alone.) Gears is a great game, though I'm still trying to decide which is better, that or "Call of Duty 3." This will require a lot of game playing of course, but I'm willing to suffer so you'll get the answer. My reviews for both Call of Duty 3 and Gears of War should be available shortly on the SuperSite for Windows.
Sony Reshuffles Video Game Unit
In a telling sign that Sony is upset with the lack of progress its video game unit has made getting the PlayStation 3 into stores, the company is replacing Ken Kutaragi, creator of the PlayStation, with a marketing guy from its US business. Kazuo Hirai, president of Sony's US operations, will replace Kutaragi as the overall president of Sony and will oversee videogame development. Kutaragi will stay on as chairman, however, and some believe he may still have a future as a replacement for Sony CEO Howard Stringer. That, or Kutaragi's failures with the PS3--which has been rocked by multiple delays, parts shortages, and shipment downturns--will lead to his departure from the company. You know, maybe the Xbox 360 really does have a chance after all.
Most Mac Users are ... Old?
Mac users, as the saying goes, are smarter and better educated than the typical PC user. But here's a statistic that will likely surprise people: Mac users are also considerably older than typical PCs, which kind of makes you wonder what the young-and-hip "I'm a Mac" ads are all about. According to researchers at MetaFacts, nearly half of Mac users are 55 or older, almost double the share for average PC users. Meanwhile, the number one PC brand for the hip 18 to 25 year old crowd is, yep, you guess it, Gateway. What?!? Now I'm beginning to wonder about MetaFacts.
Microsoft Giving Away 30,000 Copies Each of Windows Vista, Office 2007
And finally, via its Power Together Web site, Microsoft will give away 30,000 copies each of Windows Vista Business and Office Professional 2007. The catch? In order to qualify for either offer, you have to complete three or more Web-based technical training sessions for each system, and they look mighty boring. Also, because the Web site URL has been widely disseminated, the site is getting hammered regularly, making it difficult to even see what's available. Still, intrepid users who'd like to save a buck should check it out.