REDMOND, Wash., Sept. 14, 2000 — Simple. Intuitive. Easy to use. Words that people use to describe their experiences with Windows Millennium Edition, or Windows Me, Microsoft’s new operating system for home users, defy the notion that computer proficiency requires a high degree of technical expertise.
“Windows Me is definitely easy for people who aren’t computer experts,”
says Chris Wilken, 21, an accounting and information systems major at DePaul University in Chicago.
“It makes computing fun and less intimidating. Windows Me is definitely user-friendly.”
In San Francisco, Brandon Seltenrich has spent the past eight months beta testing Windows Me.
says Seltenrich, 27.
“It’s by far the most robust and reliable consumer operating system from Microsoft.”
And for Peter Dale of Ionia, Mich., the feature that won his heart is System Restore, which allows users who encounter a problem to return to a point where their system was working properly.
“It’s like an insurance policy,”
says Dale, who is currently using Windows Me to host a game of Unreal Tournament with 12 to14 participants from around the globe.
“If my five-year-old daughter clicks on some of the wrong icons, I’ve got a restore point to go back to.”
What has previously been available only to testers and manufacturers today becomes available for retail purchase worldwide. Microsoft will commemorate today’s release of its new operating system, Windows Me, by kicking off the Meet Me Tour at shopping malls in San Francisco, Chicago and New York. Events are scheduled to take place through November in 25 U.S. cities.
Exciting Trends in Technology — For the Typical Home User
A simplified computing experience is what lies at the core of Windows Me, says Greg Sullivan, lead product manager for Windows Me at Microsoft.
“Across the board, the most important thing we’ve done in developing Windows Me is adding capabilities that let the average, non-technical user really take advantage of some of the exciting new trends in technology,”
“In 1995, we could play Solitaire against our computer. Now, with Windows Me, we can play Hearts against someone in Japan and chat online with them at the same time. It brings the personal computing experience to a whole new level.”
And the ability to play games across the globe is only the beginning. Developed around four pillars — PC health, digital media, home networking and the online experience — Windows Me strives to remove the barriers that previously separated users from the new and exciting things made possible by technology. According to Sullivan, and those who’ve tested Windows Me for the past year prior to its formal release, it succeeds.
Take the help and support function, for example. Seltenrich’s 9-year-old daughter recently asked her father how to send email using the new program on her father’s computer.
“She asked me how to send email, and I told her to go ask the computer,”
“She got into the help menu, typed in her question about sending email, and got a decent answer. The help features in this operating system are so much more intuitive and provide assistance that the lay user can understand.”
For college student Wilken, it’s the digital media capabilities that are impressive.
“I really like Windows Media Player 7 and how it is a feature of Windows Me,”
“In the past I had digital music files, and in order to get them onto an audio CD I’d have to use three different programs. With Windows Me, everything I need is on one program.”
To Wilken, whose hobby of designing Web sites is something he hopes to eventually parlay into a career, the movie making and digital picture capabilities in Windows Me are also a big plus.
“I like Windows Movie Maker,”
“I tried it out for a bit and it’s perfect. Everything you need is right there.”
Working with photos and video on Windows Me is so easy Wilken has time to concentrate on more imperative details, such as making sure that his subjects are properly lit and in focus.
“It works very well and it’s definitely easy to learn,”
“It makes movie making fun. It’s not a daunting task — you don’t have to be a professional movie maker to do it.”
Seltenrich is equally enthusiastic about the digital media features in Windows Me.
“My favorite features are the multi-media enhancements, which give me the ability to use scanners and digital cameras to take pictures, upload and file them, and use Picture It! to tweak them or fix them up,”
“Then I catalog them and email them to family and friends.”
Like Wilkin, Seltenrich is particularly fond of Windows Media Player 7.
“When I make my own CDs, I use Windows Media Player 7,”
“It lets you record CD-quality music that’s not limited to one format. It can also catalog and grab online tracking information in one easy, streamlined place.”
Overall, Seltenrich says he’s impressed with Windows Me’s compatibility with other devices.
“I think there’s a real synergy between the digital components that we find entering into our lives more and more,”
“The out-of-box functionality that Windows Me has for them is amazing. It’s a simple plug-and-play with Windows Me.”
The Value of the PC
Windows Me was designed with home networking features that enable the PC to interact with any number and variety of devices, according to developers. What once seemed confined to the realm of science fiction — alarm clocks
to coffee makers, thermostats and water heaters, for example — are now within reach. And at the helm of it all, according to Sullivan, is the PC.
“Smart devices — devices that can communicate with one another — don’t replace the PC,”
“In fact, they simply make it more valuable. The PC is not only alive and well, but it’s become more valuable, and it’s doing even more things.”
Keeping the PC on track to perform new tasks and to interact with other devices, Sullivan says, was a priority in the development of Windows PC.
“With all the ways you interact with your computer, the PC experience has become much more dynamic than it used to be,”
“Windows Me offers online support, digital capabilities, and Internet connectedness. Even the help function is more dynamic.”
Sullivan says that Windows Me is an ideal platform for keeping the PC healthy regardless of which programs require maintenance.
“Today, consumers can get the new capabilities on hundreds of new computers supported by thousands of software and device manufacturers,”
“Windows Me is a great platform for running and supporting all of them, and that’s something we think is very valuable and it’s a model we’ll continue to promote.”
Connecting users to each other via devices and new and emerging technology is something that ultimately allows them to expand and strengthen their relationships. Whether it’s designing Web pages, sharing photographs and videos, playing games with people across the street and around the world, or using home networking features to take full advantage of Internet connections, human interaction is at the heart of Windows Me.
For Sullivan, Windows Me offers a perfect avenue for building a bridge between his children and his mother.
“I have three kids, and I live 2,000 miles from where I grew up,”
“I visit about once a year and typically bring a stack of photographs. With Windows Me and a digital camera, it’s simple and easy for my mother to see what’s going on in the day-to-day lives of her grandchildren.”
Sullivan says that Windows Me has enabled him, in many ways, to erase the distance between his mother and him.
“The technology barriers have been removed, which helps us keep in touch better and get a better feeling for what’s going on in one another’s lives,”
“She has really embraced the concept of being connected and of being in touch with people around the world.”
Windows Me — Technology Modeled On Consumer Feedback
With Windows Me comes digital media features, simple connections to the Internet and a built-in capacity for networking.
“Today’s offerings are the result of the whole technology industry working together to improve the PC experience for consumers,”
“As the industry advances and evolves, Microsoft works with the industry at large to make sure that everyone can take advantage of the new and exciting technologies that are out there. Adding features and offering consumers choices is something we’ll continue to strive for.”
Looking into the future, Microsoft’s consumer offerings will continue to deliver on customer needs, as Windows Me does today.
“Consumers expect a PC to have a level of capability that allows them to take advantage of what’s out there, and we want to deliver on what our customers tell us they want the PC to do for them,”
“Enhancing our products based on consumer feedback is something we will continue to do.”