Microsoft wants its fans to hold parties to celebrate the launch of Windows 7. After the spectacular failure of Windows Vista, is Microsoft back on track?
Microsoft launches its latest operating system Windows 7 on the mainstream market Thursday, hoping to recover from the disaster of its predecessor Windows Vista.
The software giant suffered the indignity of having Vista passed over by many in favour of its lighter and less cumbersome forbear XP, which continues to be the Windows operating system of choice for many businesses and individuals.
Furthermore, Microsoft wants the launch of Windows 7 to be a fun occasion. The company is sending out "party packs" to help groups of friends and families install their new operating system in a festive fashion.
These packs include a poster, playing cards, steamers, balloons and lots of other stuff you might find at a five-year-old's birthday party.
So much for an end to indignities at Microsoft.
A warm reception
But as eye-watering as the "buzz" may be, Windows 7 (which has been available in beta testing versions for months and has been downloaded eight million times) has been well received by most reviewers.
Technology writer Matt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal leads the acclaim: "I believe it is the best version of Windows Microsoft has produced. It's a boost to productivity and a pleasure to use. Despite a few drawbacks, I can heartily recommend Windows 7 to mainstream consumers."
Microsoft may finally have hit the nail on the head. It looks nice. It is fast. It is less cumbersome than Vista and it is easier to use. However, it costs from 113.05 euros (amazon.fr price), something not so palatable for computer users who increasingly expect their software to be "free".
Vista a "train wreck"
"It's a big deal for Microsoft," analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group in Silicon Valley, USA, told AFP. "Windows Vista was a train wreck."
Windows 7, although in many ways lighter and more simple than Vista, includes a raft of new features that enables computers, televisions, radios, digital picture frames and other "smart" devices in homes to talk to each other.
It also lets people use PCs to record television programmes and then watch shows "on demand" at any Internet-linked computer using Microsoft's Live service.
The touch-screen capabilities herald the arrival of monitors that further blur the lines between televisions and PCs.
Getting punters' wallets out
Importantly, Microsoft is relying on the success of Windows 7 for the forthcoming Office 2010 (the new productivity suite), to be released next year, something the company hopes will put paid to the ubiquity of XP systems running Office 2003.
Microsoft is, after all, a software company. It needs a successful launch of its new operating system to get people in the shops and buying the latest Office suites. "This is going to be the next XP where it sticks around for a very long time," analyst Matt Rosoff of Directions On Microsoft, a private firm focused on tracking the software firm, told AFP.
"It performs well with a lot of hardware and software, and then it gets out of the way. It is not flashy, but it is solid."
Windows 7 will be available pre-loaded on personal computers as of Thursday, and people who bought Vista machines in recent months will be able to upgrade for free.