I attended the Windows 7 launch today, and the success of the product really hit close to home. I mean that literally, as the launch event itself was held in a NYC loft space that was walking distance from my home. But I mean it figuratively as well, because I think this version of Microsoft’s client operating system, and the company’s confidence and pride around it, harkens back to a time, toward the beginning of my career, when Windows really excited people and created a buzz.
Tech commentator luminaries, like John Dvorak, were in attendance at the launch, as was just about every Microsoft “beat” reporter from the industry press. It didn’t stop there though; mainstream news outlets, including the Wall Street Journal and the Associated Press, were covering the event too. And I dare say everyone in the room was impressed with the product. including hipster tech bloggers, from whom I took more than a little satisfaction, as I watched them typing furiously on their Macs with excitement over Windows 7.
The event kicked off with “Kylie” (who, at five and a half years old, is probably the youngest person on TV to exclaim “I’m a PC”) introducing Steve Ballmer, then bantering with him and chiding him for the late arrival of his flight into NYC. From there, SteveB spoke beamingly of the newest version of his company’s flagship product,
But Steve kept his words brief and really shined the spotlight on Windows 7. He brought colleagues on to do impressive demos, including of the new Windows-based Amazon Kindle e-book reader software, and a slew of home media tricks like a single Dell machine sending distinct high def video content to something like 12 different widescreen TVs.
Following the stage show, though, was probably the best part of the event: a curtain opened to reveal an entire showroom full of OEM hardware, including notebooks, netbooks, gamer rigs and even TVs, powered by Windows 7. A Microsoft spokesman demoed it all to Ballmer and attendees were invited to follow them around. After the formal keynote ended, everyone was encouraged to try out all the hardware themselves.
This was no ordinary Microsoft launch. The star of the show wasn’t Ballmer. It wasn’t even Microsoft. And in a sense, it wasn’t even Windows 7, at least not in isolation. Instead, It was the diverse variety of stylishly-designed products (yes, I said “stylishly”), from numerous companies, that were ready to run Windows 7 at launch. And given a number of these products are offered at price points below $500, Apple got a double-whammy today. And Microsoft presented it all with confidence sufficient to allow attendees more unfiltered hands-on time with the product than was devoted to structured demo and presentation.
Earlier in the week, I attended Microsoft’s other victory party, the 2009 SharePoint Conference, as detailed in my two previous posts. That the two events overlapped and both occurred in the space of four days may make this one of Microsoft’s best weeks ever. And that’s nice to see.
My travel itinerary yesterday involved a trek out of the (Las Vegas) desert and back home. And today it felt like Microsoft emerged from the desert and returned home as well. And while there’s plenty more work for Redmond to do. let’s see if this week can provide a suitable foundation for more comeback achievements.