Last-minute Vista hype watch

To tide you over until midnight, here's a round-up of the week's Vista hype on the eve of its launch.

When I wrote in my last post of my desire to see people dressed in ridiculous themed costumes at tonight's midnight launch of Windows Vista, I was being a mite frivolous. However, the Vista hype from the past week now has me convinced that the launch of the operating system is all about people getting trussed up in vibrant duds and waving their arms about.

In the past week, Microsoft has cranked up the hype for its long-promised operating system by scheduling events featuring human artwork. Australia Day saw Look Up And Smile, a Windows Vista-sponsored National Australia Day Council event in which participants were encouraged to flock to sites in three states and be photographed from above courtesy of a satellite and camera-enabled planes.

The Web site encouraged people to get crafty for the aerial image, suggesting they rock up with "styrofoam, matte plastics, fabrics ... bed sheets, or uniform coloured clothing". Self-promotion was also kosher, with the site suggesting company logos, words and personal messages could be writ large and captured by the flyover. Official photos from the day have yet to be released -- they will appear on the Look Up And Smile site tomorrow, coinciding with Vista's launch day.

This aerial photography event is not to be confused with the Google Maps flyover, also held on Australia Day. Spooky that two competitors had the same idea for the same day though (also known as the Today Tonight-A Current Affair phenomenon).

Human artwork will also feature in the American Vista launch, with a "Cirque du Soleil-style performance" taking place at 10am on Tuesday (Big Apple time) in downtown New York. Microsoft call it the "moment of WOW". Hopefully this won't confuse fans of World of Warcraft (WoW), although it would make for an amusing scene if they turned up en masse, clad in medieval regalia. Shortly after the WOW moment, at an electronics outlet across town, the official launch schedule allocates 15 minutes for "Steve Ballmer remarks". Keep an eye out for the ensuing monkey dance and "Vista! Vista! Vista!" chant on YouTube.

In the wake of TV and online advertising touting Harvey Norman's midnight launch, Dell wants it known that it has gotten in first (at least in terms of the OEM version) by allowing customers to pre-order Vista PCs from January 27. Computers ordered on the weekend will ship this week with the operating system pre-loaded, and don't cost more than their XP counterparts.

Remember New Year's Eve 1999, when tiny island nations on the international date line squabbled amongst themselves over who was the first to officially ring in 2000? And how in the end, no-one really cared? For some reason I'm transported back to that time. Ah well, the moment of truth is mere hours away. See you in the queue as the clock strikes 12.

(Just one final word of advice: don't set your watch to the countdown clock on Harvey Norman's Web site. It's running a little slow.)


Quit livin' in the past!

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