NEW YORK -- The release of Windows XP marks the end of the era of too many PC crashes and the beginning of the end for the narrow bandwidth era, Bill Gates said in his keynote address here Thursday celebrating the launch of Microsoft Corp.s newest operating system.
"Microsoft has been working for more than 20 years to make software the best possible tool for users, which has culminated in the release of Windows XP today, an operating system that takes Windows and the PC to new heights," Gates, chairman and chief software architect for Microsoft, told several hundred attendees at the Marriott Marquis Theatre in Manhattan.
A gushing Gates went on to say that XP is the most powerful, reliable and fastest OS ever delivered by Microsoft. "The combination of Windows XP and Office XP will set the standard for business," he said.
The release also marks the end of the MS-DOS legacy and, effectively, the end of the Windows 95 era. "Even when we launched Windows 95 we said it simply wouldnt be good enough," said Gates, before symbolically typing in his final DOS command: C:\> exit.
Gates talked up initial adoption of Windows XP from business and consumer users alike, following comments from some PC makers that its release would not have an immediate effect on PC sales.
Enterprises such as Wells Fargo, Citibank Corp. and BMW had between them deployed some 150,000 copies of Windows XP, while Microsoft also had a commitment from a range of enterprises for 1 million more, Gates said.
"Weve already received pre-orders for 100,000 copies from consumers, twice that of Windows 95 when it was launched; there are more than 5 million computers loaded with XP worldwide ready to go; and some 30 million PCs are XP ready [meaning they have the system requirements to run XP effectively]," he said.
Gates pointed out that only 70 million users are currently on Windows 2000 which, like XP, is based on the NT kernel, compared with the 400-million who still used products based on the 9x code base (Windows 95/98/Millennium Edition).
Jim Allchin, Microsofts group vice-president for Windows, also took to the stage, recalling how when Gates asked him to join the company some 11 years ago he was unsure because he "wanted to work for a company whose product offered real reliability. That moment has now finally come with Windows XP," he said.
Tests have shown that Windows is 10 times more reliable than the 9x products and is 20 percent more reliable than Windows 2000. It is also the fastest Windows ever, loading applications 25 percent faster and providing the strongest security ever for networks, he said.
In conclusion, Gates said the release of Windows XP marked "a lot of new beginnings."
Earlier in the day Microsoft rounded up technology industry executives in a love fest that included Hewlett-Packards Carly Fiorina, Michael Dell of Dell Computers, Craig Barrett of Intel Corp. and Michael Capellas from Compaq Computer Corp.
Discussions included the future direction of technology and how the launch of XP might affect PC sales. Barrett said the next three years would bring more of the same for the PC industry, with ongoing better computing power and software. "The ongoing trend will be integration across devices, which strategies like Microsofts .Net will continue to drive forward," he said.