Microsoft has confirmed that chairman Bill Gates will visit London at the end of this month for the official launch of its Vista operating system and Office 2007 productivity suite.
The arrival of Vista on Tuesday 30 January is Microsoft's most important new product launch for several years. Gates has conducted the launches of previous operating systems, such as Windows XP and 95, from the US, making his presence in the UK capital a unique event.
"We are pleased to announce that Microsoft UK will be holding a press conference in London on Tuesday 30 January to launch Windows Vista and 2007 Microsoft Office system," a Microsoft UK spokesperson told ZDNet UK. "Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft, will be attending this event together with a number of Microsoft partners."
Microsoft wasn't able to release any other information about the launch location or format. Previous UK launches have been chaired by local celebrities such as Jonathan Ross, whose notably robust approach to the companies who hire him may no be considered compatible with Gate's typically earnest approach.
But according to a report on Monday, Gates was not originally planning to visit London at all. The Times claimed that the Microsoft chairman had managed to get himself double booked, as he is also scheduled to address the company's Government Leaders' Forum on 30 and 31 January in Edinburgh. This may explain why Gates won't be attending the US launch, and means his attendance at both events will be somewhat curtailed.
The date of the Microsoft Government Leaders' Forum was announced back in September 2006, six months after Microsoft had admitted that the consumer launch of Vista would slip to January 2007.