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Windows Vista is the most tested and highest-quality release that Microsoft has ever issued, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates told an audience of several hundred in New York's Times Square.
After five years and many delays, the software company launched the consumer version of its flagship operating system at the Nokia Theatre in Manhattan this afternoon.
Just as Windows 95 was key in ushering the public into the world of the Internet and digital media, Windows Vista will be key to unlocking the potential of today's digital era, Gates said.
From the caviar hors d'oeuvres to a performance from pop punk band Angels and Airwaves, pomp and circumstance lorded over the Windows Vista launch. One of Microsoft's marketing themes is even "the 'wow' starts now." The crowd of several hundred cheered as various features of Vista was shown onstage during a demo.
"It's not only the biggest launch in software history," Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told the audience, "it's also the broadest software release we've ever done." In addition to Windows Vista, Microsoft is also using today to launch Office 2007, the first time Office and Windows have been launched together in a dozen years.
Windows Vista launches in 70 countries, 39,000 retail outlets, and 19 languages at midnight on Jan. 30, starting with New Zealand at 6:01 a.m. Eastern standard time. A business version of the world's most used operating system debuted in November.
Prior to its official release, there were upwards of 5 billion beta downloads of Windows Vista and more than a million trial downloads of Microsoft Office 2007 in the last eight weeks alone.