Microsoft

Live Aussie Vista Launch

Live Blogging from the Australian launch of Microsoft's Windows Vista and Office 2007 at the MCA in Sydney.

Today was the launch of Microsoft's Vista operating system and Office 2007 application suite. Below is a transcript of events from the media launch at the MCA in Sydney.

10am - Windows Vista launch hasn't started yet and either is the air conditioning. The room is full of sweaty tech media types awaiting the local launch. Tech geeks need air conditioning.

10.10 - Launch starts with The Ramones playing "What a Wonderful World". Comedians Hamish and Andy take the stage to introduce today's launch. They are cracking jokes about Microsoft being a small start up company launching a new operating system and that there are new screensavers. They announce that Bill Gates....could not be here today.

10.12 - Microsoft Australian Managing Director, Steve Vamos, takes the stage. He announced 3 local partnerships (more detail soon), and thanked developers and partners for gathering around the Microsoft Vista operating system while in development and beta. This will be Steve Vamos' last launch in Australia before moving to Seattle.

10.15 - Steve Vamos introduces the President of Microsoft's Platform and Services Division, Kevin Johnson. This is the top brass speaker out from the United States.

Kevin Johnston talks about "Creating the WOW". Journalists around me are more concerned with the lack of air conditioning.

Johnson talks of the evolution of PC computing and digital lifestyle and says 70% of Australian population run Windows. The themes or pillars of the Vista release are "easier, safer, more entertaining, better connected". Johnson talks through some of the new features under these themes.

10.17 - Attendees at the launch are faning themselves to offset perspiration. It's supposed to be 30 degrees in Sydney today but is much warmer inside the MCA.

10.20 - Johnson talks about the Windows Live services embedded into Microsoft Vista and Office 2007.

10.25 - Hamish and Andy are back. They announce "There is a new version of Solitare and Mine Sweeper". Hamish and Andy are excited about these new gaming and procrastination applications inside Vista.

10.27 - Jeff Putt, Director Windows Client, Microsoft Australia takes the stage to show demos of Vista. Putt shows Windows Vista Ultimate Edition — the most expensive version of the new operating system with it's Aero interface.

10.28 - Vista or the projector faults. Putt and tech team recovers quickly. Projector keeps wobbling up and down...audience feeling sea sick.

10.35 - Putt states a partnership with Kodak in Australia. A Photo gallery inside the Vista operating system can be sent to Kodak Australia for a physical printing of wanted pictures. Users will need to be connected to the Web but the interesting part is that there is no "Web site" needed.

10.40 - Projector breaks down on Putt again.

10.45 - Putt announces a partnership with BigPond Movies. Users of Windows Media Center will be able to download movies directly. Similar to Apple's Front Row and iTunes integration. Movies are about $5.95 and TV shows a few dollars. No information on what users can do with the download, and what DRM is involved. Putt says "this is the new way" of renting movies. Seems to be in favour of Bigpond broadband customers.

10.50 - Putt says Vista users and XBox 360 users will be able to play games against each other irrespective of platform used. The keyboard vs controller question can be answered...

10.55 - Hamish and Andy take the stage again. No jokes this time.

10.56 - Rita Alexandrou, Product Marketing Manager, Microsoft Office is up on stage to talk about the new Microsoft Office 2007. Alexandrou says that there are not many new features in Office 2007, but it's the way the GUI has been changed to make people more productive. More demos are given.

11.00 - Alexandrou shows off some demos how to use Office to update her blog on an upcoming ski trip to Whistler, Canada. Journalists are looking at the snow and dreaming of a cooler place. Alexandrou is boring the audience by showing off features inside Office 2007.

11.05 - Hamish and Andy back again. They congratulate Steve Vamos on his move to Redmond and welcome new Managing Director, Microsoft Australia and New Zealand, Tracey Fellows.

11.10 - Fellows focuses on safety and security. Fellows introduces family settings inside Vista to control or limit information to children. "This is something that is hugely important to me" according to Fellows.

11.12 - Cross to a video of an Australian family using Vista controls. It's no suprise that the children seem more savvy with computers than their parents.

11.14 - Fellows announces a new music partner. After a cut to INXS's "What you need" and random video clips, Greg Milne, Managing Director, Sanity Music, announces a new partnership between Sanity and Microsoft Australia. All of the Sanity Music Store can "be dragged and dropped into a personal music player of choice".

Every track in Sanity's catalogue is available. "The greatest musics store" according to Milne — "You don't need to buy anything but can listen to everything".

It will go live in April.

The catch — "Microsoft Certified Vista Device" is necessary..more on this later and will fall on deaf ears for iPOD users which is not currently certified...

Update: The catch is that you'll need an international ‘PlaysForSure' and upcoming ‘Windows Vista Certified' which include music players made by Toshiba, Samsung, Creative, iRiver and SanDisk. No iPOD integration...

What isn't yet clear is whether users on Windows XP will be able to use the Sanity music store. This was omitted from the press launch this morning and subsequent press release which only mentions Windows Media Player 11 with Microsoft Vista operating system.

11.20 Paul Randle and Jeff Putt takes the stage. They show off the new Sanity store within Microsot's Media Player 11. Paul wants to play Sepultura. Instead they search for U2 from within Sanity/Media Player. The interface seems clunky and seems it needs work but the idea is interesting for users looking for an "all you can eat" subscription model. Update: Only 300 tracks a month can be downloaded — making somewhat less interesting. Of course, if you stop the subscription service so does the music.

No prices stated except a rough estimate of "a couple of CDs per month".

11.27 - A curtain drops and The Rouge Traders are playing "Voodoo Child" live. Yes, really live and they sound okay.

11.30 - Hamish and Andy conclude the launch saying that everyone is welcome to go out to the street and beat the dodgy projector with a stick.

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