Vista steals the show

Gates tries to sell The Daily Show's Jon Stewart on the new operating system, as Office takes a backseat. Photos: What's in the Vista swag bag?

Ina Fried Former Staff writer, CNET News
During her years at CNET News, Ina Fried changed beats several times, changed genders once, and covered both of the Pirates of Silicon Valley.
Ina Fried
3 min read
NEW YORK--Now that Steve Ballmer has launched Windows Vista and Office 2007, he has his sights set on getting a key user to upgrade: his wife.

Although Microsoft's chief executive has managed to get test versions of both products on some of his home machines, Ballmer said his wife has a strict policy of no beta software on her PC. "Now that we've officially launched, I get to do the upgrade at the Ballmer house," he said, speaking Tuesday morning to a crowd at a Best Buy on Fifth Avenue.

The event, ostensibly aimed at showing the retail excitement around the new products, drew a crush of reporters.

That made the considerably smaller number of store customers at 10 a.m. PST on Tuesday nearly as popular as Ballmer, with video crews lining up to get their thoughts on the new software.

swag bag

With Ballmer handling retail duty, Chairman Bill Gates took to the airwaves, chatting with the Today Show, CNN and The Daily Show, where Gates tried to sell host Jon Stewart on Vista.

Stewart warned Gates upfront that he was not exactly a technophile.

"I'm not particularly well-versed in computers," he told Gates. "What does the F12 button do?"

Gates was quick with his reply. "I'd stay away from it if I were you. Start with F1 and work your way up."

Gates gave Stewart a copy of Vista, but the reigning monarch of fake news was still not sold. "What if I don't know how to use it?"

"Call me," Gates said.

Stewart did show some savvy in trying to get Gates' password, asking the world's richest man if he had any pets. No, Gates said, no pets. What about when you were a kid?

That's not my password, Gates assured Stewart.

All eyes on Vista
Although Microsoft launched Office 2007 and Vista together, nearly all the attention Monday was on the new operating system, with the ubiquitous Office logo the only clear reminder that it, too, was having its launch.

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Office Vice President Chris Capossela said he wasn't too disappointed.

"I feel good about the amount of airtime," he said over breakfast Tuesday. "Your expectations have to be reasonable."

He noted that Office got more attention at the business launch, back in November.

What's in that swag bag?
The biggest hit at the launch party Monday was the goodie bag that people got on their way out. Attendees at the Times Square affair included beta testers, reporters, analysts and tech executives. And it was sometimes hard to tell which of those groups was most excited for the swag. Sure, the reporters and beta testers were lining up to get theirs, but I also saw one very high-ranking tech executive make sure he had his before heading out to his next event.

So what was inside?

Predictably, there was Office and Vista. Notably it was the high-end Vista Ultimate and the entry-level Home and Student edition of Office--sorry Vista test kids, no InfoPath server for you. There was also an Xbox 360 controller (it also works with Vista PCs) and a Games for Windows title. Also tucked in the bag was the Vista press kit from the Consumer Electronics Show, which itself included another Vista game and a pair of flash drives.