| Bill Gates in London. (AFP)
New York/London, Jan. 30 (Reuters): Microsoft Corp. rolled out Windows Vista at retailers in 70 countries today, delivering a new computer operating system that aims to better manage the explosion of digital media and protect users from the dangers of the Internet.
The world’s biggest software maker marked the launch of its first all-new Windows operating system in five years with a marketing blitz including commercials featuring basketball star Lebron James and appearances by Microsoft chairman and most recognisable face, co-founder Bill Gates.
“It will take entertainment to a whole new level. Even education will be changed dramatically,” Gates said at an event at the British Library in London, where he used Vista to electronically bring together Leonardo da Vinci’s two notebooks, one in the British Library and one in the US owned by Gates.
Windows runs on more than 95 per cent of the world’s computers, and the long-delayed new version is the first major release of a new Microsoft operating system since it introduced Windows XP in 2001.
Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft called Vista the most important release of its dominant operating system since Windows 95 more than a decade ago, when shop- pers waited for hours to be among the first to run the software.
Consumer fanfare of that magnitude seems unlikely since Vista is not the dramatic leap in technology of past releases, but the new Windows could ultimately be just as successful.
“Vista will be successful. It’s been a long time since Microsoft introduced a new operating system. There are a lot of nice features that people will like,” said Morningstar analyst Toan Tran.
The most obvious change is the new look. Vista’s “Aero” interface uses 3-D graphics to create translucent windows that appear to float above the background screen.
Other changes are more subtle such as improved security, search bars to help users find information easier and a new multimedia platform for digital video, music and pictures.
Apple Inc. calls Vista a copycat version of its Mac OS X Tiger operating system, which introduced many of those new features. The iPod maker plans to introduce a new operating system of its own later this year.