Microsoft launches Vista software in global blitz


By New Scientist Tech and Reuters Microsoft rolled out Windows Vista in 70 countries on Tuesday, delivering a new computer operating system that aims to better manage the explosion of digital media and protect users from the dangers of the internet. The world’s biggest software maker marked the launch of its first all-new Windows operating system in six years with a marketing blitz, including commercials featuring sports stars and appearances by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates on morning and late-night chat shows. Windows currently runs on more than 95% of the world’s computers, and the long-delayed new version is the first major release of a new Microsoft operating system since it introduced Windows XP in 2001. Microsoft, based in Washington State, US, called Vista the most important release of its dominant operating system since Windows 95 more than a decade ago, when shoppers waited for hours to be among the first to run the new software. Consumer fanfare of that magnitude seems unlikely since Vista does not represent the same dramatic leap in technology, but analysts say the new operating system could ultimately be just as successful. “Vista will be successful. It’s been a long time since Microsoft introduced a new operating system,” says Toan Tran at business analysts, Morningstar. “There are a lot of nice features that people will like.” The most obvious change is the new look. Vista’s “Aero” interface uses 3D graphics to create translucent windows that appear to float above the background screen. Other changes are more subtle, like improved security, search bars to help users find information and a new multimedia platform for digital video, music and pictures. Apple has called Vista a copycat version of its Mac OS X Tiger operating system, which already has many of these features. The rival computer maker plans to introduce a new operating system of its own later this year. The Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg called Vista a “worthy, but largely unexciting, product”. In the first year of its release, Vista, which required a $6 billion investment from Microsoft, will be installed on more than 100 million PCs worldwide, according to research reports. But because only about 15 % of existing computers have memory and graphics cards powerful enough to run premium versions of the operating system, most users will have to buy a new computer if they want to upgrade. “There is a pent-up set of consumers who are going to get new PCs,” Microsoft’s chief executive Steve Ballmer said in an interview on Monday. “Sales will be stronger than they otherwise would have been.” To accompany the launch, events are planned near New York’s Times Square and some US retailers will hold midnight sales across the country. The company’s chairman and most recognisable face, Bill Gates, also hit the talk show circuit to hype the launch,
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