REDMOND, Wash., Dec. 20, 2000 — Unless your family and friends are technology wizards, you might not think that a computer operating system would make an ideal holiday gift. But as Microsoft consumer Windows product manager Tom Laemmel points out, consumers shouldn’t overlook Windows Me as a fun and practical present.
“Maybe you will get some CDs and a digital camera for the holidays — if you’re using Windows Me, those gifts just get better. You can copy, sort, organize and share music, video footage and pictures,”
“With Windows Me, the PC adds value to those other gifts. And consumers can get it now, either as a box of software — perfect for gift-wrapping — to upgrade their Windows 95 or Windows 98 systems, or they can buy a new PC with Windows Me pre-installed.”
According to Laemmel, Windows Me puts the PC at the heart of the home by enabling users to be more productive and creative:
“Windows Me succeeds in making technology so easy that even the novice user can get up and running in no time. That means families can devote their attention to what’s important to them in home computing — whether it’s music or video, online games or surfing the Internet — without finding technology to be a barrier.”
New Possibilities for Users
Keith Powell, who works as a network consultant, recently gave Windows Me as a gift to his parents. They now have a quicker and easier computing experience that truly delivers the power of the Internet to the home, he says. Powell’s father, a recently retired cross-country truck driver, and his mother, who works at a library in suburban Chicago, use the computer in a variety of ways. His father, who used to race stock cars, surfs the Internet frequently and is thrilled with how many racing sites he’s found. He also monitors his son’s travel with Trip.com, and sends lots of email.
Powell’s mother also sends email and navigates the Internet, but her true love is genealogy. Having been in Chicago since the 1840s, her family is relatively easy to trace and fit into the family-tree program on which she has been working for a long time.
Powell’s father’s family is another story.
“My father was born into a huge family right outside the town of Paris, Tennessee, and he lived on a cotton farm until he was 17 and moved to Chicago”
“The babies were delivered by midwives, and they didn’t always get around to birth certificates right away.”
Using her PC, the wealth of information available on the Internet and the wonders of email, Powell’s mother is filling in her husband’s family tree one branch at a time.
The Ideal Gift
In its mission to help home PC users take full advantage of today’s technology trends, Microsoft developed Windows Me to offer enhancements to the home-computing experience in the areas of PC health, digital media, home networking and the online experience.
One of the best parts of Windows Me, according to Laemmel, is that it brings previously intimidating technologies to home users without requiring them to be technology experts.
“What consumers get with Windows Me is the opportunity to dive into some of the cool new digital media — cameras and music and video, for example — that they’ve heard a lot about but haven’t tried themselves,”
“The advantage here is that it’s easy for the average consumer, the one who perhaps believes that all this high technology stuff is over his or her head.”
“Giving Windows Me also means that your nephew who loves to download shareware — games and utilities off the Internet — can do so more quickly, easily and with greater confidence,”
“With System Restore, if he accidentally downloads something that wreaks havoc on the whole system, he — or his parents — can roll back the clock and restore the system to its previous working order.”
“And, for your Grandma,”
“the ease of connecting to the Internet is extremely appealing. Windows Me makes it easier for users to keep in touch with children or grandchildren in college, old friends around the country, and to easily connect to and play games online — like Internet Backgammon, Internet Checkers and Internet Hearts.”
Digital Media for the Whole Family
While Laemmel likes to talk about nearly all aspects of Windows Me, he returns consistently to one particular area — digital media.
“Lots of people shoot video,”
“But then it just sits there. It doesn’t go anywhere. With Windows Me, in a pretty simple and straightforward way, you can get your video on the computer and create home movies that can be posted on a Web site or sent via e-mail for family and friends to enjoy.”
The speed and ease with which Windows Me can save, file and organize digital media makes the system a good example of how technology can help bring people together, Laemmel says.
“Digital video cameras and Windows Me get along quite well. Mom can shoot holiday video footage on Christmas morning, and by noon be emailing it to relatives who live anywhere in the world.”
And even though there is less than a week until Christmas, Laemmel says he isn’t alarmed that he hasn’t yet mailed his holiday cards. In fact, he doesn’t plan to buy them. Nor has he developed or ordered reprints of the family photo that friends and relatives have come to expect from him over the years.
“Everyone I know has email,”
“This year, I’m sending cards by email, and I’ll include the photo taken on my digital camera. Who knows, I might not even take the photo until Christmas morning!”
Laemmel says he’s had a lot of fun with pictures using Window Me’s the digital media features in Windows Me.
“With Windows Image Acquisition (WIA) technology, I can just plug in my digital camera and it’s easy to get the pictures onto the computer and to start organizing them,”
“Using Windows Me and a digital camera, you transfer the images onto the PC and before you know it, you’re e-mailing photos around the world and putting them up on Web sites. The days of families with shoeboxes of photos sitting in closets, waiting to find their way into a scrapbook, are coming to an end.”
He’s also having a good time organizing his holiday-themed CDs using Windows Media Player 7.
“For the holidays I pulled together some special playlists,”
“I transferred all my holiday CDs to my PC and started to mix and match songs and artists. Now I can shuffle through all my holiday tunes or listen to any particular style or artist I like — all with the click of a mouse. Sometimes I listen to Elvis Christmas tunes for hours, but then I can easily switch to classical or Jazz holiday music — or combine them all. And there’s no pile of CDs to be sorted through and put away afterwards.”
The Networked Home
With the number of PCs in the home on the rise — one in the den, one upstairs for the kids, perhaps even a laptop so that Mom and Dad can work at home — Microsoft makes it easy for users to take advantage of all the new home networking technologies on the market, says Laemmel.
“Thanks to the home networking features built into Windows Me, like the Home Networking Wizard and Universal Plug and Play support, households can share computer equipment such as printers and Internet connections,”
“Not only does this save families money, but it also makes for a more efficient computing experience and saves time as well.”
“Also, once the computers are networked, kids — and their parents — can begin playing those really cool new games they received for the holidays”
head to head
“over the Internet or over their local network.”
Peace of Mind: PC Health
“I used to go over to my parents’ home and discover that there had been some ‘fixing’ going on in one of the directories,”
Keith Powell recalls.
“One of them would go in and delete these things called”
to create more space in order to make the computer run better.
“We got into a sort of tag-team computer maintenance routine,”
“Every now and then they’d do something. I’d get a call and it would be my mother telling me that my father had done something and now something wasn’t working properly. Or I’d stop by the house and my dad would take me aside and tell me that my mother had messed something up when she’d been working on one of her projects.”
Now, Powell doesn’t have to worry about his mother deleting critical system files. System File Protection, a new feature of Windows Me, protects these files from accidental deletion. This feature alone, Powell says, has gone a long way toward solving the problems that arise when his parents begin ‘fixing’ things on their PC. System File Protection, along with System Restore and AutoUpdate, provides peace of mind for users of all ages and skill levels.
“I’ve used System Restore a couple of times on their computer,”
“They tell me the symptoms, I go back to the study and in 10 or 15 minutes I come out and tell them it’s fixed. That’s one of my favorite things about Windows Me — it’s configured in such a way that it keeps the user from hurting his or her computer as much.”
“Something as simple as a download of a poorly written utility or shareware game can sometimes affect the performance of your computer,”
“Now, when my mother calls to say she’s having a problem with her computer, I tell her to use System Restore. Then we can talk about something more important than just her computer. Like why I haven’t sent her a Christmas card yet.”
Pricing and Availability
Windows Me is available today in 28 languages. The estimated retail price for Windows Me is $209 (U.S.) for the full version and $109 (U.S.) for a version upgrade from Windows 95. Between now and Jan. 15, 2001, users of Windows 98 and Windows 98 Second Edition can acquire the Windows Me Promotional Step-Up for $59.95, after which the $109 price prevails. Parties interested in learning the estimated retail price in local currency for other countries should contact their local Microsoft subsidiary. Reseller prices may vary.