Robert McLaws: Windows Edition

Blogging about Windows since before Vista became a bad word

January 2007 - Posts

  • The Vista Daily #1

    Filed under:

    Since the Vista news has exploded in recent days, I'm going to start doing link posts for the articles that I think are important, but I don't necessarily have anything extra to add to the discussion. Without further ado, here it goes:

    That's it for today. More tomorrow...

  • Comparing the Vista Launch to an OS X Launch Is Stupid

    OK, so I've seen several comments on the web saying that the Vista launch is lame because 1000's of people line up at the Mac stores to get OS X at every launch. That's supposed to mean that OS X generates more excitement? This is an illusion created by supply vs demand vs availability. Let's do some really simple math here:

    Mac OS X is sold at:

    14 states don't even have Apple stores. Apparently no one in the Dakotas buys Apple products. That's too bad.

    Windows Vista is sold at:

    • Best Buy
    • CompUSA
    • Staples
    • OfficeMax
    • Circuit City
    • Fry's Electronics
    • etc...

    There are over 30,000 retail locations alone that Vista is available in. Not to mention the fact that you can order it from the comfort of your own home. It's availability vs demand. Since you can usually only pick up the new release in an Apple store, and there are only a few locations per state (if you're not backwater enough to get a store, of course), then OF COURSE the lines are going to be long.

    But when 1,000 people line up for the latest OS X release, chances are pretty good that greater than half of the Mac user base in the area is in line with you. You couldn't fit half of the local Windows user base in the nearest sports arena.

    But who am I to split hairs, here?
  • Phoenix Launch Wrap-Up

    Filed under:

    Monday Night
    "They won't line up", my a$$. The Phoenix launch had over 100 people show up. When the doors opened up at 10pm, the line was all the way down the front of the building. It wasn't as many people as I had hoped, but it wasn't the Xbox 360 launch either. At the same time, there were a lot of people who hadn't heard about Vista until that evening, which was really cool.

    The last 1/3 of the line

    They opened the doors, and after they handed out the badges, we all scattered. Almost immediately, I saw that there was an HP TouchSmart PC on one of the end-caps. So I brought a couple people over to do some demos. A little over an hour later, I still wasn't done answering questions and showing off all the little features in Vista. It was really cool.

    So anyway, former NFL Player and ESPN Radio Commentator Ron Wolfley was on hand for pictures, and he spent a fair amount of time with each customer, which was nice. He was a great guy. Outside, there were hotdogs, drinks, and music, and the tents had people rotating through constantly.

    FINALLY, Midnight rolled around, and they brought Vista & Office out on carts. Within minutes, all of the Ultimate editions were gone, and they even had some Signature Editions to sell. Most of the Home Premiums were gone fairly quickly too. I didn't see one copy of Home Basic on the shelves... not sure what the plan was there.

    Of course, I made it my personal mission to get out and tell everyone about the Windows Vista Family Discount. Practically everyone I talked to owned more than one computer at home, and was shocked that there was a way to get such a deep discount. I really hope that people take advantage of it while they can.

    Tuesday Afternoon
    There was still stuff going on all day Tuesday, so I came back around 5pm to lend a hand until the giveaways ended at 7pm. The store was packed. Chad, the Microsoft Rep on hand to coordinate everything, was back giving demos in the front of the store. There was a crowd of about 10 people around one of the kiosks up front, and I wasn't there but 2 seconds when he asked me to give demos again. So I walked a few of them through the media features in Vista, including a very nice couple and a guy who was curious about the "bad DRM that he heard about in Vista".

    At one point, Chad came back and gave me a really cool Windows Vista '07 jersey, autographed by Ron Wolfley, the NFL player from the night before.


    I'm going to get it framed, along with my "Vista07" license plate. Anyway, it was really cool of him to do that, and I just wanted to say "Thanks" here in public.

    Anyway, I did a few more demos, and then left about 7:20pm. I really hope my future Mother-In-Law's school won the $25,000 computer lab, because I didn't hear who won while I was there.

    Overall Impressions
    All in all, I ended up spending over 3 1/2 hours showing people the really great work Microsoft has done over the last 5 years. And it was well worth it.

    You know, I thought the whole "Wow starts now" thing was kinda ridiculous. But, having given 20-30 demos to regular people over the last couple days, I've never heard so many "wow"s over an operating system. People seriously never thought that Windows would look that great. The Top 5 'Wow' Moments of the event:

      1. Flip 3D
      2. Media Center TV Search
      3. Start Menu Search
      4. Word 2007
      5. Burning Photos to Video DVD

    It was really fun to see people's first reactions to Windows Vista. There wasn't a single person I talked to that was like "Nah, I'm not really interested." Even on Tuesday, where the only thing going on was the giveaways.

    Thanks to everyone I got to talk to... it was great meeting you. I had an absolutely wonderful time, and it made me wish that I could go around the country and demo Vista to consumers for a living. I met some truly wonderful people.

    Well, that's it for me tonight. I'll have some more thoughts up tomorrow.

  • PostTypeIcon
  • To The 20-Year Microsoft Alum I Met Last Night...

    I'll post more about the launch events of last night and today later on. But for now, I have a more personal message:

    Last night I met a former Microsoft vet who now lives in Glendale. He was one of the early hires (with an employee # in the 500's) and we talked for almost an hour. I was going to get your contact information, but you disappeared after I went to shoot some video, and I can't for the life of me remember your name. If this message finds you, please use this form to contact me. I'd like to hang out some more before you head back to Seattle for the summer.

    Headed back over to Best Buy... reactions from the launch events this evening.

  • Whose Idea Was It To Prove Apple Right?

    Last August, I slammed Apple for making up a really ugly gel button of the Vista logo and saying that it was the read deal, when at the time, it most obviously wasn't.

    So whose brilliant idea was it to make the really cool Start Orb and add a overexaggerated gel feel to it, making it look like ass, for the advertising?

    Ugh. Why would Microsoft unnecessarily invite Apple comparisons by doing that? It looks like they took Apple's fake gel button and set the contrast to "extreme". They should have stuck with the original.

  • Prediction: Security Firms Will Attack Vista Quickly

    Computer security firms are in business to make people feel better about their computing experience. Make no mistake, it's as much an "emotional" sell as it is providing an actual service, especially seeing as how most of said software is quite often part of the problem.

    Vista is now available to the public, with Microsoft spending $500 Million dollars worldwide to educate the masses on why they should feel good about the most secure software they've ever produced. But security companies don't benefit from people feeling safe and secure about their OS the way it is... they make money from people feeling as if it is some flawed thing that they are forced to deal with.

    On top of that, security firms like eEye and F-Secure gain credibility by remaining in the news. Though Vista has been beta testing for a very long time, it's not in those companies' best interest to give Microsoft feedback to make Vista more secure.

    I'm willing to bet that these companies have all found Vista issues that could affect security, and are keeping them close to the vest, at least for now. But they're going to have to start counteracting that $500M some time, and when they do, I'm gonna bet that the issues they "disclose" are issues that they could have resolved earlier in the testing process.

    But maybe I'm just cynical that way.

  • Local TV Coverage

    I don't even know where to start with this. I'm ashamed that these guys are the best news station in my area.

  • Extending the Vista Grace Period to 120 Days

    Jeff Atwood give us the skinny on a "official, supported operation directly from Microsoft" to "rearm" your 30 day trial 3 additional times, for a grand total of 120 days.

    To do it, open a command prompt as an administrator, and enter the command slmgr -rearm.

    So those of you sitting on the fence about your Vista purchase, you have a bit of a reprieve.

    [via Buck Hodges]

  • Windows Vista Family Discount Official Page

    Just wanted to let everyone know that the official details for the Windows Vista Family Discount are now live. They do a pretty good job explaining how it all works, so I'll send you there and let you read it for yourself. I'll be spreading the word about this at Best Buy tonight, and hopefully tomorrow from 3-7pm... so stop over and say Hi!

  • Worldwide Vista Marketing Pricetag reports that Microsoft is pumping 1/2 Billion (yes, that's with a B) into Windows Vista's worldwide marketing effort, making it the company's "most aggressive launch ever".

    Wow. It's no wonder budgets are so tight at Microsoft this year. I'm looking forward to see the breadth and depth of this campaign.

  • Windows Vista Updates Available

    Windows Update just dropped over 20 updates to my Ultimate machine. 7 of those updates are for known issues (HD Audio, FireWire hard drives, and Phishing Filter, among others), 11 are language packs, and 2 are the final versions of the BitLocker and Hold 'Em Ultimate Extras. As soon as the KB articles go live, I'll post links here.

  • Get Your Free T-Mobile WiFi NOW!

    The promotion's website at has not yet updated to let you sign up... but that's ok. T-Mobile has updated their home page to include a link to the sign up page... and the best part is, there's no credit card required! All you need is a name, e-mail address, username and password, and you're done.

    Sweeeeet! I've got a new office for the next three months... woo hoo!

  • We've Come A Long Way Since Windows 386

    As you're watching all of the marketing material that Microsoft has churned up for the Windows Vista launch, just remember how good we all have it now. Twent years ago, this is what you would have been subjected to. WARNING: If the 80s were at all bad to you, you might want to skip this one. Unless watching a coked-out Cyndi Lauper wannabe is your thing... then by all means.

    All I have to say is.... Oh. My. God. <shudders>

    [via Jayson Knight]

  • Microsoft Closes Oft-Abused 'Upgrade' Loophole

    The big Vista-related story going around the net today is the news that Microsoft has closed the installation loophole in the "Upgrade" editions of Windows Vista.

    Here's the short version: in the past, people could purchase "Upgrade" editions of Windows, and complete a "clean" installation, as long as you provided the CD for the version you're attempting to upgrade. The problem with this is, with the advent of ISOs and millions of bootleg copies of Windows XP floating around the net, this method was increasingly unreliable.

    So Microsoft is now requiring that Windows XP is already completely installed on the system before upgrading to Vista. As this MS Knowledge Base article states, "Upgrade keys cannot be used for a clean installation." But every Vista installation is a clean install, even if it's an upgrade. So it's not quite as big a deal as everyone makes it out to be.

    Most enthusiasts are up in arms over this change. Well... cry me a river. I've used this loophole in the past. To be honest, I was planning on using it again, until today. But it's not any of our right to abuse a system that was designed to make it easier for people who were upgrading existing installations. It's not like the loophole is totally closed. You can always Ghost a clean installation of XP and run your Vista upgrade after that. Shave at least an hour off of your install time.

    But come on... you didn't think the loophole was going to be open forever, did you? You should have seen this one coming.

    UPDATE: In related news, a Microsoft rep answered questions on the OEM pricing and support model with ExtremeTech. Highlights include information about the legality of buying OEM copies of Vista through (it's OK) and Vista's tolerance of hardware changes (it's more tolerant than XP). [via ActiveWin]

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