NEW YORK - Windows 7 is here.
After years of development and months of marketing buildup on the part of Microsoft, the operating system makes its debut for general release in a high-profile event at New York City headlined by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
The event began with the auditorium's oversized screens displaying several ads from Microsoft's Windows 7 campaign, including one of the "Laptop Hunter" television advertisements from earlier in 2009. Then Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer took the stage.
Other launch events took place at locations around the world, including Redmond, Tokyo and Munich.
"I'm an enthusiastic personality," Ballmer said, after a typically bombastic launch onto the stage. "Today I get to say not only that I'm Steve Ballmer and I'm a PC, but that I'm Steve Ballmer and I'm a Windows 7 PC, effective immediately."
Windows 7, Ballmer asserted, was created to make the PC experience "simpler and faster."
The "secret sauce" in Windows 7's creation, Ballmer added, included the engineers, partners and customers who provided a feedback loop for refining the product. "All of that came together in a very unique way," he said.
Ballmer talked about Microsoft's "three screens and a cloud" strategy, a vision that includes users interacting with Windows 7 across multiple devices, including smartphones, televisions and the traditional PC.
He then introduced Brad Brooks, corporate vice president of Windows Consumer Marketing and Product Management at Microsoft, to show off exactly how a Windows 7 interface would run on a high-definition television and allow for content on demand. Brooks announced Netflix and CBS as partners on the television side of the equation.
Microsoft announced a partnership with Amazon.com to port Kindle content onto devices running Windows 7. Brooks showed off how Windows 7, equipped with a touch-screen capability, allows users to zoom into and resize text on the fly.
The cloud-based strategy comes into play with additional Windows 7 features, such as HomeGroup, which lets devices such as printers be plugged into a home network-and, presumably, a small business network-"with no additional setup." Using a Windows Live ID, users can connect with their PC's content through their laptop; Brooks demonstrated this particular feature by accessing his computer in Redmond from the computer onstage.
Using his PC, Brooks showed how Windows 7 powered the ability to send media-including high-definition pictures and music-to various screens throughout a house network. "Let's fire them all off one Windows 7 PC," he said, as the screens behind him flashed with images and pounded with music. Although marketed for home use, the SMB (small- to medium-sized business) use is readily apparent.
"That only used 54 percent of our available resources," Brooks said, as four screens ran high-processing content.
Ballmer then took the stage again.
"The key for the popularity of Windows-and Windows is very popular-this year, around 300 million PCs will be sold," Ballmer said. "And the keys to the Windows PC success is there's more you can do with these systems," including operate everything from the new Hulu application to business software.
"You see the same thing in the diversity of peripherals," Ballmer added, again playing into Microsoft's theme of promoting its closeness with its partners in this particular venture. He then rattled off the various PCs currently running Windows 7.
"The netbook, really launched and invented over the past 12 months, are Windows PCs. The ultra-thin, the traditional notebook, the desktop, and the all-in-one style of PC that Brad showed, which I think is perfect in the kitchen," said Ballmer.
"When Bill Gates and Paul Allen started Microsoft, they talked about a computer on every desk," Ballmer continued. "Today we have a computer for every room" and "every facet" of peoples' lives.