Microsoft chairman Bill Gates chose the historic setting of the British Library to launch Vista, his company's latest incarnation of Windows.
At a special event, held at the library's conference centre, in Kings Cross, London, Gates announced that the launch of the new operating system marked the beginning of some key changes to how the company approaches software. "This is a very special occasion. I am so excited to see what people will do with this new software," he said.
Gates addressed the issues of safety and security, areas on which Microsoft has been deemed weak in the past, and claimed that the company had worked hard to improve its approach. "Safety has been a huge element of what we have done here," he said.
For instance, Gates described how he was now able to limit how long his son and daughter could spend online with the new parental controls built into Vista.
Gates also expounded the importance of partners and software developers in making Vista a success. "Every time we move the platform to a new level we are amazed with what the software industry does with it," he said.
However, Microsoft has found itself in hot water recently with one element of the software industry: the security community. Some antivirus vendors in particular have claimed that Microsoft has tried to shut them out of the Vista kernel in an attempt to grab a share of the lucrative security services market for itself.
The Microsoft boss also claimed that some of the interactive features in Vista would revolutionise areas such as education — potentially eliminating the need for text books and other written material. "It is fair to say that education will be changed dramatically," he said." Students will have devices that let them work without paper text books. We are just at the beginning of that."
Gates was joined on stage by Lynne Brindley, chief executive of the British Library, to discuss how Microsoft is working with the organisation to improve the digitisation of its archive or rare documents, books and manuscripts.
Brindley announced that Gates had donated a rare notebook belonging to Leonardo da Vinci to the British Library. The Codex Leicester, owned by Gates, will join another notebook, the Codex Arundel, owned by the library, in a virtual reading room running on Vista. She added that this is the first time the two documents had been together in nearly 500 years.
"By making the Codices available online, anyone can have a first-hand look at this incredible work, which even now, 500 years later, still seems ahead of the times," said Gates.