Windows Vista Launch, London – Bill Gates Speech 4 (the one where we find out what it actually does)


David Weeks, Windows Client Marketing Manager for Microsoft UK, jumps onboard this jolly ol’ ship, and walks us through a Vista demo. Now this is more like it! ‘The great versatility of Vista allows for a greater digital experience’, he boasts.

One of the most important features of Vista is the upgrading of security and safety, which I mentioned earlier. He shows off the new parental control feature, where you can browse your offspring’s browsing details, on their own profile. Not only can you view which websites, games, etc. they’re viewing, but you can also add or subtract the amount of time they’re allowed. He shows how easy it is to synch a Creative Zen with Windows Media Player, and admittedly it looks a heck of a lot easier than using iTunes with an iPod.

He’s using one of the Toshiba Portege R400s, which we did a video of at CES, and begins explaining the ‘restore previous version’ feature that Gates mentioned at CES, where you can view previous Office documents from however long ago, even if you didn’t save them. I can imagine this feature will be very useful – how many of us forget to save before exiting, or lose documents when your computer crashes?

The ribbon add-on with Office looks great, allowing you to view different formats of your document, and adapt it however you please. The ease with which he moves an image around a Word document astonishes me; with XP it’s darn inflexible, something I struggle with constantly.

Cynthia is welcomed back onstage, and she’s carrying a zebra-skinned ‘Tulip’ laptop – I want it soooo bad. They’ve collected some ‘wow’ prizes, which will act as an incentive to use Vista, and are viewable on a website (expect link soon); several include having McFly play in your living room, and other things which money just can’t buy. She doesn’t explain what you have to do to get these prizes, so expect more information shortly.

Simon Darby, another Microsoft hired geek, jumps up and helps Cynthia with introducing the several different gadgets that are available in conjunction with partner companies, such as the aforementioned Easyjet, Franklin Covey, etc.

There is a handwriting recognition technology built into Vista, and Simon gives an example of scrawling on a tablet PC, connected to the Toshiba Portege, which translates his messy chicken scratch into text onscreen. Not only can it be translated into a normal computer font, but you can also just automatically drop your handwritten words onto the text you’re creating – perfect for when you must sign and fax documents to people, but like me, don’t own a printer and fax. Amazing.

Several people start leaking out the exit; I’m getting the feeling that everyone else is flagging and wanting to leave. Simon starts to show how the aforementioned partner companies’ information can be incorporated into your desktop – to me, it resembles Google Desktop, which lets you see all the latest RSS feeds from several certain websites or news channels. The example they use is with IGN, a sporting media network, so you can gain all the latest news on your favourite football team, through a scrollbar on the side of your desktop.

Another company they’ve teamed up with is Easyjet, and they quickly whip through a short film about why they teamed up with the airline company, and how updates about flights etc can be incorporated into Vista seamlessly. By simply dragging the Easyjet gadget off the toolbar on the right of the screen, onto the desktop, a box pops up and asks for login details. After logging-in, you’re presented with your travel history, future travel plans, and a deal of the day. Once you click on ‘book flight’, they take you straight to their website, to give you peace of mind that the transaction will be legitimate.

Thank goodness, they start wrapping up the speech, as everyone around me is snoozing. We have an opportunity to gain interviews with Microsoft CEOs (sadly not Bill, there goes my hopes of asking him what blogs he reads regularly!), so I will try and snag one if possible. Ciao!

Katherine Hannaford
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