January 29, 2007 1:10 PM PST
Newsmaker: With Vista, seeing is believing, says GatesSee all Newsmakers
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While some reviewers have given lukewarm opinions on the new operating system, the Microsoft chairman says that a three- or four-minute demo should convince most people that Vista has much to offer over Windows XP.
Gates sat down with CNET News.com on the eve of Vista's consumer launch, along with the release of Office 2007. In part one of a two-part interview, he responds to the critics, outlines his Vista sales pitch and talks about the potential of a comeback for peer-to-peer computing.
In the second part of the interview, to be published later this week, Gates talks Xbox, Windows Live and whether TV as we know it is outmoded.
Q: You've been waiting for this day for a long time. How important is the launch of these two products (Vista and Office) for Microsoft?
Gates: Windows Vista is the platform that almost the entire industry builds on, whether it is innovative hardware or software applications. Having it out in the marketplace and letting them use that as the foundation for their work, it's very exciting. We've had 5 million people help guide us in this, tell us that it is ready to go. This is our chance to thank them and let everyone else get the benefits of all the work.
Q: I took a look at all the advertising circulars over the weekend as all the PC retailers started trying to advertise Vista. It seemed like there was still a bit of a challenge for them to figure out what to sell. How big a challenge is it to try and explain what Vista is to consumers.
Gates: Well, with software the best thing is always if you can let people have about a three- or four-minute demo. Then they'll really understand why we think this is a big "wow." We talk about how it's easier--that's things like search, and the setup and the user interface. We talk about safer--that's parental control, antiphishing. We talk about better-connected, the simple Wi-Fi capability. More entertaining--that's HD Movie Maker, DirectX 10 games.
I don't think after you've seen it for three or four minutes, you'll say, "Wow, that's the same as XP." You'll see it's quite different. Given that people spend more time on Windows PCs than watching TV now, having that be the best experience possible is worth a lot.
Q: If you were talking to a friend and you were trying to convince them to upgrade to Vista and they were skeptical, what would you tell them? What things about Vista are the most compelling?
Gates: It would be easiest if I could take them over to my machine and show them how Photo Gallery lets you find and organize things in a better way. I could show them the great graphics capabilities that Windows Vista has unlocked. I'd show them on parental control how I can set the time for my son's work with the PC. Or, for my daughter, how I can look at an activity report and see what kind of Web sites she's going to.
Pretty quickly they'd get a concrete view. For some people, just the fact that it turns on faster, the way we've made that a lot better. Different things will appeal to different people.
Q: Some of the changes with Vista are things that aren't necessarily visible the first time you turn it on. It's things under the hood for developers. What changes in computing do you think Vista will help bring about?
Gates: Things like peer-to-peer. We've got an infrastructure in there. Advanced use of RSS (Really Simple Syndication) so all the applications don't have to go and rebuild those things. I was really impressed seeing how HP had taken their touch screen and made photo-type scenarios really simple. You don't even think you are using software when you select and organize and do a little bit of editing. It's so natural.
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