January 30, 2007 5:48 AM PST

A frat party for Vista's debut

SAN FRANCISCO--Vista may have been the marquee name at CompUSA here last night, but it was the peripherals that stole the show.

The new Microsoft operating system had a splashy coming-out on the other side of the country, as celebrity executives such as Chairman Bill Gates and CEO Steve Ballmer--along with countless marketing dollars--descended on New York. But while Times Square socialites watched aerial dancers dangle their bodies into a Vista logo, San Franciscans had to content themselves with more of a fancy frat party.

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Not that there's anything wrong with that. There were barbequed hamburgers and hot dogs; a DJ spinning electronica, funk and '80s hits; and Alex Smith, the quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers. There were Vista demos, $10 CD cases and giveaways of pens that light, Batman-style, the Microsoft logo. There was even a tall, mysterious figure in a penguin suit.

But as more than one participant noted, this was nothing like the excitement of Gates' visit at the Windows XP release half a decade ago or November's release of Sony PlayStation 3.

Plenty of revelers streamed through the Market Street doors of San Francisco's CompUSA to partake of this city's Midnight Madness event. Still, it was hardly the 500 to 1,000 guests that store manager Ben Jiongco estimated for the evening's turnout. And most customers we spoke to in line ahead of the 12:01 a.m. sale time didn't come to the store for the new operating system but rather to take advantage of the store's co-marketed sales.

The first four people in line were lured by the rebated Jabra BT350 Bluetooth headset, which they had originally tried to get amid suffocating crowds on Black Friday. They weren't in a rush to switch, they said, because in addition to premium software rates, they would have to buy a new video card and RAM to bring their machines up to speed.

video
Vista on sale
Neha Tiwari visits CompUSA for the midnight release of Windows Vista in San Francisco.

Those who came out of curiosity or to celebrate the new Windows didn't plan to buy, admitting that they could save up to $300 by waiting for volume licenses and sales on components.

The lack of feeding frenzy was also apparent a minute after midnight, when the first boxes went on sale. Vista purchases were the exception rather than the rule, and by 12:10 a.m., the four cashiers had all but run out of customers to ring up.

Were Vista's underwhelming reviews to blame for the disappointing turnout? Not necessarily, Darren Cobb, a regional operations director for CompUSA, quickly noted. Give it a week, he suggested, and customers who kept their distance from the anticipated midnight crowds will make their way to the store.

Jessica Dolcourt of Download.com reported from San Francisco.

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9 comments

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"Those who came out...
... of curiosity or to celebrate the new Windows didn't plan to buy, admitting that they could save up to $300 by waiting for volume licenses and sales on components..."; so, what about Office 2007! Are these Windows Vista Operating Systems to run by themselves or what? Also, what compelling new functionalities do the duo (Vista and Office 2007) bring to the international business analyst?
Posted by Commander_Spock (3123 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Will eventually get Vista preinstalled... (Getting Office 2007 sooner.)
I look forward to using Vista, when it comes preinstalled on my next computer.

I am in no rush to replace my current computer.

Like 95%+ of people, I have absolutely no interest in Macs.

I will probably get Office 2007 next month. I currently have Office XP/2002, and it sounds like a great upgrade.
Posted by john55440 (1020 comments )
Reply Link Flag
numbers (a point without a point)
What possible piece of data could you have that leads you to
believe that 95+% of people have no interest in macs. Certainly
can't be market share, since this is totally irrelevant to this
argument.
What was your point here, anyway?
Posted by DeusExMachina (516 comments )
Link Flag
Ignorant
> Like 95%+ of people, I have absolutely no interest in Macs.

The subject line says it all. I'd point out the various logical fallacies
you're committing but that would be a waste of both of our time.
Posted by tedk7 (66 comments )
Link Flag
Or it could be Microsof'ts Policies
The slow sales could always be due to Microsoft's restrictive licensing policies (remote control bombing of the operating system) and their premium content protection policies.

But I am not that hopeful that a mass of consumer are capable of making that kind of a boycott. Aeros is just too shiny to bother with the minor details.
Posted by airwalkery2k (117 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Later, much later.
I'm in no rush to get it.
I'll wait for to get it free or at lease very heavily discounted.
Posted by kobe wild (12 comments )
Reply Link Flag
A frat party -- that's perfect
Which fraternity caters to aging out-of-touch nerds?
Posted by gw188397 (45 comments )
Reply Link Flag
the aging nerds fraturnity of course
Alpha Lima Tango Alpha India Romeo 8800
Posted by jabbotts (492 comments )
Link Flag
Considering the 95% using Windows this should . .
have had people lined up around the block. Apparently they
couldn't even muster the 500 to 1000 the store manager
predicted.
And of those who came many were looking for the also on sale
items.

Let's see what happens to the Leopard launch next year.
Oh Mac users are just fanatics. No we just enjoy our computers
more and we get excited about more joy.
Posted by kirkules (103 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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