Microsoft hones its Vista holiday pitch

Summary:Microsoft is holding a Windows Vista holiday-preview event this week in New York, aimed primarily at the consumer press to show off how far Vista has come in the year since the product was released to manufacturing. They allowed a few less-well-heeled interlopers, like yours truly, tour the showcase, too.

This year will mark the first time that Microsoft and its partners will have a chance to make their pitch for why Vista PCs should be on your holiday gift lists.

Vista PCs on display at this week’s New York holiday showcase

To kick things off, Microsoft is holding a Windows Vista holiday-preview event this week in New York, aimed primarily at the consumer press (folks like Vogue, GQ, Cosmo, etc.) Windows officials are here to show off how far Vista has come in the year since the product was released to manufacturing.

Microsoft rented out a loft overlooking the Hudson to act as a temporary showroom. Rather than trying to demonstrate the whole "connected entertainment" scenario, Microsoft's gone the stripped-down route this time around. There are no Windows Mobile phones, no Windows Home Server systems, no Xboxes and no Zunes to be seen.

(There also was no one, thankfully, reciting the "100 Reasons Why Everyone Is So Speechless." The holiday showcase is minimalist. It's all about Vista -- and gourmet snacks/drinks.)

For Microsoft watchers like me who cover every twist and turn in the Windows saga, there isn't much (if anything) new. I've seen the new Vista laptops and notebooks from Sony, Dell, HP, Gateway and the various Windows Certified and I've checked out the various Games for Windows titles. And I've gotten demos of the latest Windows Live service add-ons for Vista, ranging from Windows Live Photo Gallery, to Windows Live Writer.

Games for Windows were on display. Zunes and Xboxes were not
The fact that the Windows team is finally showing/talking about Windows Live is pretty amazing, though. Until now, the two product families might as well as been from different planets, instead of the same company.

Microsoft isn't sharing any new tallies, as far as how many copies of Vista it has sold. (The official count remains at 60 million since the product launched.) The company is providing a few updated "momentum" data points, including:

  • There are now 7,670 apps and devices from more than 900 partners that are either "Certified for Windows Vista" or that pass the "Works with Windows Vista" tests
  • Of NPD’s list of 100 top-selling Windows apps by unit, 98 are compatible according to Download.com
  • PCs (desktop and notebook) equipped with Window Vista OS options have increased in U.S. retail shelf presence from 77% in February 2007 to 92% in September 2007.
  • There are over 41,000 hardware products are now supported on Window Update, up from 23,000 at launch

Entering the portal for the Vista Holiday showcase
I was surprised there weren't any special holiday bundles. Or mysterious new Vista form factors that are set to launch in the next month or so. Or a new advertising campaign (There might be one, but we didn't get to see it, if there is.) It's probably too insider-baseball for Martha Stewart Living, but I wondered what Microsoft is providing, right now (not next year with Service Pack 1), to make upgrading to Vista more palatable for techies and non-techies alike.

What is Microsoft doing to try to blunt the buzz around Apple's Leopard, which launches on Friday? Or even the buzz around XP, the operating system that's too good for its own good?

I wasn't wowed. I wonder if others who haven't been eying Vista so closely will be....

Topics: Windows, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software

About

Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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