With Vista launching in January, I took the opportunity to go to CES and chat with customers, partners and industry affilitates. In exchange for a plane ticket and hotel room I was happy to work the Vista booth for four to five hours each day of the conference.

The Microsoft presence at CES was impressive, and the booth was abuzz with people clammoring to get their first hands-on experience with Vista. Though I was working the ‘Windows Media Player 11′ and ‘Vista and Online Services’ booths, most people just wanted an introduction to Vista, to see what’s new, and to know why they should get it. It was fun to show off things like AERO, the desktop and start menu enhancements, Search, the Sidebar, Media Player, Photo Gallery, Movie Maker and Media Center. It seemed every person I engaged with walked away thinking that Vista is something they need to have.

I had a few disgruntled XP users show up too. One guy in particular charged WMP 11 (XP) with breaking his music library and DRM’d tracks. Poor guy had even done a clean install only to end up in the same position. It’s hard to debug in the abstract, but fortunately it sounded like an issue I was familiar with so I told him what to do… I hope the remedy worked for him. I gave him my card but never heard back.

There were a few of those Mac guys too who enjoyed smircking and calling out every likeness to OSX. I was polite, didn’t dispute or defend. I would have liked to espouse on the convergence and virtues of good design and  point out that all the concepts that appeared years before in early versions of Longhorn, but I usually just responded with something like ‘oh yeah?’, or ‘yeah, it is similar’.

Working the booth fun and gratifying. I really enjoyed chatting with folks and showing off Vista. It’s been a long road getting Vista out the door, and this was a nice way to do my part in sending it off.


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