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Windows 7: Microsoft's touchy-feely launch

A subdued launch left enthusiasts with plenty of time to get hands-on with all the new PCs--well, all but that Dell Adamo that everyone wanted to get their hands on.

NEW YORK--Whereas the Manhattan launch of Windows Vista was largely about the glitz, Thursday's event here was more hands-on tech demo than Hollywood premiere.

Most of the focus at the Windows 7 event was on showing off new PC models and showing how they connect with one another and with other devices, such as high-definition televisions, cameras, and photo frames.

Also on display were a large number of touch-screen models, both laptop and all-in-one desktop varieties, with many running Microsoft's Touch Pack, which includes Surface applications such as Virtual Earth and Lagoon.

But the device that attendees most wanted to get their hands-on--Dell's Adamo XPS--was quickly whisked away after being shown off by Microsoft's Mike Angiulo during the keynote.

* * * Another touchy subject
If any Windows Vista Ultimate owners were still holding their breath that Microsoft might yet rescue them with a free or ultralow-cost upgrade to Windows 7 Ultimate, they might as well exhale.

Vice President Brad Brooks told CNET News that the answer was a straightforward "no," though it is a decision he said he understands is disappointing. Brooks, as did Tami Reller in an interview earlier this month, pointed to the fact that some Ultimate owners were among those that held house parties and thus did get a free copy of Ultimate.

* * * On the plus side, there's no need to check a bag
In keeping with the event's more low-key nature, even the swag bag was a bit, shall we say, skimpy.

Inside was a T-shirt, a puzzle, a poster, a deck of cards, and the Steve Ballmer edition of Windows 7 Ultimate--essentially some of the same goodies given to those that hosted Windows 7 house parties. With Vista, by contrast, launch attendees got a copy of Office, a Windows game, an Xbox controller, and, of course Vista.

The Windows 7 bag itself was one of those reusable shopping bags, rather than the shoulder bag needed to hold all of the Vista goodies. That said, I'm sure that the Windows 7 launch had a much smaller carbon footprint.

* * * The other Steve
While Steve Ballmer was in new York, the other Steve--Windows unit President Steven Sinofsky--was across the globe, presiding over the Japanese launch of the product.

Although some of us in the domestic press core thought that perhaps Sinofsky was just trying to avoid us, Sinofsky said in his remarks in Japan that he was there because of the importance of that market.

"In fact, many people have been asking me, 'Why are you here working on the launch of Windows 7 in Japan and not with your boss in New York?'" Sinofsky said in his speech there. "We are very passionate and excited about the support that we're receiving from the Japanese market. And particularly because of the Japanese attention to the product quality and the development of Windows 7, which makes it so important for us to make sure that we're in touch with the Japanese customers."

Sinofsky also noted the fact that Japan is home to a number of PC makers and a leader in consumer electronics, such as the many televisions with which Windows 7 aims to connect.

Really, being in Japan is about being part of the Windows ecosystem that really starts here in Japan," Sinofsky said. "And it's great to be here to recognize the great contribution that everybody here in Japan makes to the development of Windows 7 for all of our customers around the world."

And here it is (on right), your Hallmark moment: