SYDNEY, 22 OCTOBER 2009 - Three years after Microsoft introduced the bug-ridden and poorly received Windows Vista to the world, Microsoft launches Windows 7 today knowing full well that another disaster like Vista could spell curtains for the once indomitable software giant.
The launch of a new Microsoft operating system has long been associated with fanfare, celebrity and hype, but the corporate hoo-ha was absent at the midnight release of Windows 7 in Sydney.
Instead, Microsoft executives turned in early, handing over the party poppers to Harvey Norman as it celebrated being the first retailer in world to sell the OS.
In the place of a global extravaganza, smaller Microsoft events have been planned around the world, kicking off with the official Sydney launch today at the Maritime Museum.
As the company attempts to put distance between itself and the poorly-received Vista platform, it has adopted a very different tone as it attempts to reach out more personally to its customer base, recruiting Windows users to host their own Tupperware-style Windows 7 house parties to spread the good word on the new OS.
Were not about big events any more. We are about listening to what users have got to say," said James DeBragga, general manager of Windows consumer product marketing.
Microsoft estimates 60,000 enthusiasts worldwide will hold house parties in the coming week, with 1500 of these in Australia.
We're very bullish about the launch party as a vehicle to introduce the product. We have estimated that each guest is likely to tell roughly 10 people about it. We have never marketed that way in the past, DeBragga said.
Although it has not been commercially available until today, early releases of the new operating system have received a glowing reception from software developers, hardware manufacturers and reviewers. They have been impressed by its superior speed and performance, improved layout of taskbars for accessing favourite applications and features such as the HomeGroup that serves to simplify the sharing of files, photos and hardware devices across a home network.
In addition to this, the operating system has touch technology built in, making it much easier for hardware manufacturers to deliver a new breed of integrated touch sensitive PCs to market, the first fruits of which have already been launched by vendors such as HP.
The price of admission
A free upgrade of Windows 7 will be offered to those buying a Vista PC from the end of June to the end of January.
The Home Premium version of the operating system is expected to cost $299 (or $199 for an upgrade version), the Professional A$449 (US$399 upgrade) and the Ultimate $469 ($429 upgrade).
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