Vista Rolls Out At Digital Life

    October 12, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

The WebProNews crew hit the Ziff Davis Media Digital Life conference at New York’s Javits Center and cast some digital media from the opening keynote back to the mothership.

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I’m listening to some audio from the keynote, except it’s the pre-pre-keynote introduction from someone associated with the Digital Life conference. She introduced an executive from Toshiba, the company that has been developing HD DVD technology while cross-licensing patents with Microsoft.

It’s a relationship not to be misunderestimated, to coin a term. Microsoft has a major electronics manufacturer in its hip pocket, and they work together in a way that Howard Stringer could only dream of seeing from the warring fiefdoms he views from the CEO desk at Sony.

The speaker, the pre-keynote fellow for Toshiba, goes on effusively about Windows Vista, and bringing all kinds of media technology together, presumably in a Toshiba branded box with a Vista sticker on its somewhere. He manages a plug for Qosmio, the notebook machine that Toshiba touts as a media entertainment center.

Then the pre-keynote ends, and everyone is waiting for Microsoft’s Mike Sievert, Corporate Vice President, Windows Client Marketing, to talk about the beauty and power of Vista. Sievert has theme music, about 60 seconds of a band that sounds almost but not entirely unlike the Goo Goo Dolls. Whoever it is, they really love the 10,000 millisecond delay for the vocalist.

I spend the minute reading the liner notes from Midnight Oil’s “20,000 Watt R.S.L” and wondering why the heck America doesn’t have a Peter Garrett in rock music today. Billie Joe from Green Day just isn’t in the same category as the roaring frontman for the Oils was, back in the day.

“The launch is upon us,” Sievert said. “This is a huge day for our industry.” True, and it’s been a long time in coming as well. But the last two years have brought “more profound, more fundamental change” to the industry, he claimed.

“People are accepting a new role for PC technology in their lives,” he said. That has happened as technology has moved from early adoption by enthusiasts to a place in the lives of many more people today.

Power, simplicity, safety, security, these all figure in the early part of Sievert’s talk, before the segue into discussing Windows. 800 million people use Windows every day. It’s hard to think Google is going to wipe out Microsoft anytime soon.

Vista does the heavy digital lifting for people – that’s the essential message for potential Vista customers. Enjoy the digital life and Vista does the work. (This is the point where I’d imagine Apple devotees saying they have been doing this for years now.)

Portability has been a factor in Vista’s conception. Microsoft has recognized how notebooks have surpassed desktops as a preference for PC purchasers. “People want to take this technology with them, on the go,” Sievert said. “That’s an amazing thing for our industry.”

Search capability can be found throughout Vista. Sievert indicated people would notice this as much as they do the new visual interface. For example, instead of using the mouse to find a program, someone can type a word or just a few letters to pull it up.

That’s probably an improvement over hitting the Windows key, then P for programs, then the first letter of the program, and then pressing Enter. Probably.

Search will be very pervasive, a point that Sievert makes by noting how that will place information right at people’s fingertips. Office, Outlook, and documents alike will be available by searching for them instead of clicking and hunting them down.

That search won’t be limited to a single machine. If the Vista equipped machine is part of a home network, it will search other (presumably Vista) PCs even as the user types in a query to find a piece of information.

When it comes to personalizing a system, “I can essentially type a word, and up comes something relevant to it in the Control Panel,” said Sievert. From there he demonstrated how the desktop, or wallpaper, or other aspects of Vista could be customized.

Much of the improvements have been to the visual experience. In Vista, people can find one open window out of a group quickly. The same paradigm has come to the photo application, where a person can edit an image, or tag it for easier identification.

Now we just have to wait for it to launch in the consumer market. If it arrives as promised, people should start to see it in January 2007.


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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.