Gates Officially Unveils Availability of Microsoft Vista, Office 2007


After years of delays and missteps, extensive testing by 5 million beta testers, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates unveiled worldwide availability of Vista late Monday.

Although Microsoft formally released Vista Business and Vista Enterprise to licensed corporate customers in November, the company's announcement of broad availability of all editions of Vista and most pieces of Office 2007 is deemed the final and most significant event for the channel.

Sponsored post

Slide Show: Top 10 Improvements In Microsoft Vista

Gates cited the five key cornerstones of the Windows release -- ease-of-use, security, connectivity, entertainment and development capabilities -- and heralded its integration with Office 2007 as a "platform of innovation."

Retailers and solution providers were given the green light to start selling Vista at 5:30 p.m. EST Monday but system builders and OEMs won't ship new PCs until Tuesday.

At the New York event, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer joined Gates on stage and handed out first edition framed copies of Vista to Dell CEO Kevin Rollins, AMD Chairman and CEO Hector Ruiz and top executives from HP, Toshiba and Intel.

"It's the biggest launch in software history and the broadest release we've ever done," Ballmer said at the launch event, held in Times Square.

Ballmer said Windows Vista is now available in 70 countries at 39,000 retail oulets. Thousands of OEMs, system builders and resellers will begin shipping systems preinstalled on them on Tuesday.

Still, the event had less of the fanfare and glitz that accompanied the Windows 95 -- or xBox 360 -- product launches of the past.

Why? For one, Vista was made available to businesses in late November after a big Vista business launch event in New York City. And some consumer editions of Vista started slipping out the door in recent weeks following the Consumer Electronics Show 2007 in Las Vegas. One FYE store in downtown Boston was selling the Home Basic version of Vista last Friday.

Most observers expect a slow initial uptake of Vista because of hefty hardware requirements for Vista and the traditional wait for a first Vista service pack, which is scheduled for the second half of 2007. According to Softchoice Research, 50 percent of the PCs in the market are below Windows Vista's basic system requirements and 94 percent are not ready for Windows Vista Premium edition.