NEW YORK --- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer took the stage today in New York to officially kick off the worldwide availability of Windows 7, the company's highly-anticipated next-generation operating system.
Here's a liveblog of the festivities:
11:00 a.m. EDT: Microsoft executive Tami Teller comes out to kick off the show.
"This is a big day for Microsoft. This is a big day for our partners who are ready...this is a big day for our customers who now number 1 billion across the globe."
The company brings out "Kylie," the five-year-old girl who appeared in the company's advertisements for the operating system, to introduce Steve Ballmer.
"Windows 7 is available -- 45,000 stores around the world," Ballmer says, adding that there were 8 million beta testers for the OS.
"I'm Steve Ballmer, and I'm a Windows 7 PC."
11:10 a.m. EDT: Ballmer acknowledges and thanks customers and partners; plays up how the company is answering feedback and "tuning the product." Stresses how the company's listening to its customers.
"I think of Windows 7 in three major buckets: Number one, it works the way you want it to work...faster, leaner, less busy. Number two, things...need to be simpler. Number three, new possibilities...a technology like multitouch...you get literally, from an end-user perspective, dozens and hundreds of new features."
Mentions wireless networking and multimedia.
"Windows needs to be an incredible opportunity for innovation for hardware companies, software companies, and needs to be a place that's easy...to use."
(This is an interesting point, since Ballmer's stressing "new features" despite a slimmed down OS. -AJN)
11:13 a.m. EDT: Ballmer mentions the three screens and integration: computer, phone, television. Gives the floor away for a demonstration.
11:15 a.m. EDT: Demo number one: Showing Windows 7's device stage and how you can more easily move digital pictures to and from your camera. Uses a Nikon D5000 digital SLR camera as an example. Uses the picture import to segue into Windows Live MovieMaker and how it can create a slideshow with animations from those pictures.
"It really is that simple."
(Note: They're really playing up the consumer angle here, as Mary Jo Foley wrote earlier, and trying to calm fears that Windows is too much of a pain in the neck to deal with.)
11:18 a.m. EDT: Now they're demonstrating multitouch on an HP TouchSmart all-in-one. Shows off a USB tuner for HD broadcast content from your cable box. Loads CBS for "Internet television experience" for primetime content on your multitouch PC -- only broadband connection needed. (Disclosure: CBS is the parent company of ZDNet.) Bottom line with this part of the demo: Windows 7 is coming to your television, and cable companies will eventually drop coaxial lines for a broadband pipeline.
Also demos Netflix, on-demand streaming. Plays up Windows 7 "as a platform."
First time announcement: Amazon's on board and have created a Kindle app for Windows 7. (Why you'd want to read a book on your HP TouchSmart, I don't know...but obviously has implications for smaller screens. -AJN)
11:24 a.m. EDT: Now demonstrating Windows 7 Home Group. Showing that it's easier to share a printer or files without e-mailing things to yourself. Clapping in the room is a bit tepid...perhaps the thought is that networking simplicity was a long time coming.
11:28 a.m. EDT: Begins tying Windows 7 to Windows Live with remote media streaming. Windows Live ID the key to a Windows network. "That PC is actually in Redmond, Washington," he says. Streams Family Guy clip that mentions...Windows 7. "How's that for a PC working the way you want it to?"
11:30 a.m. EDT: Shows off Windows 7-compatible Toshiba HDTV, Western Digital box, Onkyo receiver, wireless picture frame...get ready for "Windows 7 ready" to appear on more than just your PC. Explains how Windows 7 controls all the devices from one place. Example: playing photos to the picture frame, playing music to the Onkyo receiver, stream HD video to the Toshiba HDTV...all from one Windows 7 PC: an undoctored Dell XPS 16. Resources used: 54%.
Goes nuts and starts streaming different media to seven different screens on the stage from the Dell PC. Doesn't mention whether Windows 7 will yet do your laundry; make sure kids are home by curfew.
11:34 a.m. EDT: Ballmer's back! "This year, 300 million PCs will be sold." Mentions diversity, applications, software, peripherals....choice, in other words. "No one person's going to do everything you need to do...for some it will be the new Hulu application...for some it will be business applications." Adds, "the range and diversity...is unsurpassed, and that's at the core to the success of the PC." (Good point here -- it's the same thing that's helping Google Android grow in the mobile biz. -AJN)
"It speaks to the diversity of the PCs themselves. Any shape, size, price, color, environment....you have those kinds of choices. Even today, you can think of a range of PCs...the netbook...the ultrathin...the traditional notebook...the desktop...the all-in-one...("perfect for the kitchen," kisses hand like a chef)...I don't care whether you're on the go, at your desk, need two screens, need a little screen....there's a PC for you."
Ballmer throws to Mike Angulo, backstage, for the dog & pony show for new Windows 7 devices. Shows '50s style room mockups dressed with Windows 7-ready products, from kitchens to living rooms to gaming rigs.
"At the center of it all are cool new Windows 7 PCs," Angulo says. Shows off "less than $800 PC" -- Acer Aspire -- mentions solid state drive and 15-second boot that's "running antivirus." Mentions loading device drivers in parallel and hints at Microsoft's working with partners to ensure out-of-the-box software doesn't slow down the experience.
Shows off an HP laptop for performance, quick-boot, laser-etched lid, 4 lbs., 7-hour battery life.
Moves to touchscreen Sony all-in-one -- shows a Hard Rock Cafe app (vendors, hello!) and a Toshiba touchscreen clamshell laptop. Shows a resistive-touch Acer tablet PC prototype with Amazon Kindle app -- in this case, it makes more sense as a (heavy) e-book reader.
Shows off Dell's Latitude Z induction charging tech introduced a little while ago. Constantly asks, "are you getting a close-up of this?" Ballmer picks up each laptop like it's a radioactive moon rock.
Touches on an Acer Aspire Revo as a home multimedia brain for the living room; touches on how inexpensive it is. Atom dual-core processor.
On to gaming -- solid graphics that "start at $400." Calls out developers. Ballmer picks up a carbon fiber laptop with two fingers -- makes Angulo nervous. Talks up the 1080p screen, Blu-ray, etc. "This notebook is more powerful than the most powerful desktop you could have purchased a few years ago."
ZOMG! Pulls out the Dell Adamo XPS -- 9.99mm thin! "It's a high-performance, really cool engineered machine that's coming out."
Last mention that there are seven days of Windows 7 deals, particularly on the new PCs that are available today.
And that's a wrap from Ballmer and Co. "Thanks much," he says.