REDMOND, Wash., Jan. 30, 2008 – Since the worldwide release of Windows Vista one year ago today, people are doing more and getting more out of their Windows experience. From pictures and videos, to games and family safety settings, users are finding out that they can do more with Windows Vista.
To get the full picture of what the past year has brought for Windows Vista customers, PressPass gathered a group of people representing many different viewpoints: Neil Charney, General Manager, Microsoft Windows Client; Robin Mason, a mom whose family participated in the “Life With Windows Vista”, program (in which 50 ordinary families gave feedback for the development of Windows Vista); Jeff Price, Senior Director in the Windows Group at Microsoft ; Richard Russell, Principal Development Manager in the Windows Client Performance Group; Austin Wilson, Director, Windows Client Security Product Management; Kevin Unangst, Senior Global Director of Games for Windows; and Chen Shaopeng, Lenovo’s Senior Vice-President and President of Greater China Region.
PressPass: How have people responded to Windows Vista?
Neil Charney: The fact that we’ve passed the 100 million mark in licenses says something about people’s response, but even more important has been people’s increasing enthusiasm for using Windows Vista.
Robin Mason, a mom whose family participated in the “Life With Windows Vista”, program
With any new operating system, there’s a natural reluctance to upgrade because people have concerns about compatibility, they’re uneasy about learning something new or unsure about what the move to a new operating system will bring. But those who are using Windows Vista have generally been very pleased. We commissioned independent studies from IPSos and NPD to explore the attitudes of users about the operating system not only in the U.S., but also in China, France, Germany, Japan, and the UK. According to NDP, 70 percent of these users say it’s an improvement over their previous operating system.
Personally, I know that the test of anything new for me is: Would I go back to what I was using before? When it comes to Windows Vista, for me it’s emphatically no. I watch my kids use the Instant Search technology to find information on the PC or to start up applications like Microsoft Office by simply typing Word into the Start menu—those are experiences that we quickly got used to. It’s just much, much easier to work with applications, get to them quickly and visualize the information with folders that display thumbnails of the actual content.
Robin Mason: That’s been my experience, too. Around the time of the launch last year, I was asked how I’d compare Windows Vista to Windows XP. I gave Windows XP a rating of 75 and Windows Vista 80. After using Windows Vista this past year on two of the three computers I have at home, I’d give it a 90. Nothing’s perfect.
PressPass: Why are you giving it a higher score now?
Robin Mason: What has really impressed me is how comprehensive Windows Vista is. I can access my new phone through Windows Mobility Center. I’m an avid digital scrap booker and have been using Windows Vista Photo Gallery for more than a year. It’s my favorite tool of all to play with – from cropping to removing red eye. It also helps me keep thousands of my pictures organized. The Instant Search feature makes it easy to find the scrapbooking elements on my PC—more than 40,000 of them!
One of the biggest things of all—I never realized how easy networking was. When we were in Las Vegas last year for CES, a press attendee asked me about networking. I told them I was too scared to try it. But recently, I decided to give it a try. I sat down with the Windows Vista laptop we bought and opened the Network and Sharing Center. Using it with my wireless router, I could see both the PC and my laptop; from there, it was simple to access all the scrapbooking supplies on my desktop right from my laptop.
Jeff Price, Senior Director in the Windows Group at Microsoft
Neil Charney: I hadn’t thought until just now how the easy availability of photos has had an impact on me, on my family. Photos of all of us cycle through the screensavers on the PCs throughout the house. We keep putting more and more of our digital memories on the PC, and I’m seeing the changes I might not have noticed otherwise. I’ve paused many times to look at pictures of my kids taken just a year ago and I can see how much they’ve changed in that time. We all look at these photos. We all talk about them. We all remember that insane, long road trip, how Charlotte and Ruby fought, the adventures we had. So different from when I was growing up. These pictures remind me that every moment counts.
Robin Mason: I don’t want to forget to mention parental controls. I try to be in tune with what my daughter, Cassidy, is doing on the computer. I’m usually there with her, but she’s very computer literate, and at 13, she’s getting to the age where she doesn’t want me looking over her shoulder and checking her MySpace. It’s very comforting to know that parental controls are there to help protect her.
Neil Charney: Good point, because Windows Vista is the first operating system to build in parental controls. And they sure have changed things in the Charney household. For my ten-year-old, Ruby, they’ve helped make sure that her browsing habits are safe. Parental controls have also removed the argument about when she has to stop using the PC because after a certain hour, she simply can’t log on. She participated in that discussion and agreed to the rules, and now we don’t have to have that debate every night.
PressPass: What was your experience like participating in the Windows Vista launch? How has Windows Vista impacted your business and customers?
Chen Shaopeng, Senior Vice-President and President of Greater China Region, Lenovo
Chen Shaopeng: I’m very pleased that Lenovo participated in the launch of Windows Vista as one of the top strategic partners of Microsoft worldwide and China. We worked hard with Microsoft to create a positive user experience by the seamless integration of Lenovo’s unique LXT technologies and Windows Vista, and providing richer applications. We have also helped more customers to understand and adopt Windows Vista by leveraging Lenovo’s marketing and service network. I’m very happy to see Windows Vista gaining popularity and more recognition from users along the way.
Kevin Unangst, Senior Global Director of Games for Windows
PressPass: How has the Windows Vista experience improved over the last year?
Neil Charney: We’ve worked diligently with industry partners to increase the number of Windows Vista-compatible applications and devices, while also building support for them. While we were happy with what we launched with, we also built the system to update seamlessly with the new technology that has been and will be added every day.
Today, Windows Vista supports over 43,000 hardware products, almost doubling the 23,000 thousand at launch.
Jeff Price: Microsoft developed the two-tier Windows Vista Logo Program to help customers more easily identify software and devices that have been tested for compatibility with Windows Vista. The “Works with Windows Vista” logo lets customers know which software and devices offer baseline compatibility. The “Certified for Windows Vista” logo identifies products that are designed and tested to deliver a superior experience with Windows Vista. Partners can earn the right to use these logos on the basis of evaluation by an independent lab which can certify that a product meets the standards.
Today more than 900 hardware partners have certified thousands of devices and hardware components for Windows Vista that support new innovations in graphics, networking and imaging. We now have 3,494 software and 3,360 hardware products available on retail shelves.
Rich Russell: Improving the performance of Windows Vista is the focus of my work. We pay a lot of attention to and continually work not only on the performance of Windows Vista but also on people’s experience of performance. We get data from people who file bugs – Microsoft tech support, our OEM partners – and we pay attention to press, bloggers and enthusiasts’ web sites.
I’m part of the Windows Fundamentals Group which has created a program that invites people to “help make Windows better” by signing up for automatic reports about events on their machines. We don’t collect any personal information. It’s just numbers, primarily performance and reliability data—things like boot time, login time, hibernate, spin, resume time and counts of crashes and hangs. We have a feedback team who combs through that information for recurring problems, and gets those problem reports to the right team.
Neil Charney, General Manager, Microsoft Windows Client
Austin Wilson: Microsoft has invested heavily in security improvements for products for about six years now, and we’re seeing the results of that commitment in Windows Vista. I think it’s fair to say that Windows Vista is proving to be the most secure version of Windows to date.
There are many areas of progress, but I’d like to point to three: the ability to run as a standard user, a set of Internet Explorer capabilities that help protect us from outside threats – the Phishing Filter and improved authentication of secure transactions with Extended Validation SSL – and the efforts of Windows Defender to clean spyware and other potentially unwanted software. The latest Microsoft Security Intelligence Report (January to June 2007) found that Windows Vista-based PCs are almost three times less likely to be infected with potentially unwanted software than Windows XP-based PCs thanks to Windows Defender. Data from the Malicious Software Removal Tool also shows that there were 60 percent fewer malware infections on Windows Vista than on Windows XP SP2.
Windows Vista users have taken note of our efforts in a big way according to the IPSos study which found that on average, 79 percent—ranging from 71 percent in Germany to a solid 94 percent in China—feel that Windows Vista is safer than their previous operating system.
PressPass: What are the plans for the coming year?
Kevin Unangst: Windows Vista is the first operating system we’ve built with gamers and gaming in mind. Hardcore gamers have responded with more than ten million of them around the world already running Windows Vista
For these gamers, we created a whole new graphics technology and engine in Windows Vista—DirectX 10. A new generation of games is being developed to take advantage of the capabilities of the DirectX 10 compatible graphics cards and Windows Vista, and it’s exciting to see what kind of great experiences this is creating for gamers.
One year after the worldwide availability of Windows Vista, we estimate that over 60 million discrete DirectX 10 parts have shipped. Partners like NVIDIA and AMD are delivering great DirectX 10 hardware at affordable price points – even in laptops – making the technology more accessible to gamers and more attractive to game developers. It’s definitely the best graphics engine we’ve ever built.
That’s not to say we ignored the desires of those who play games more casually. For them, we created the Games Explorer to help make the games on their computers more approachable and accessible.
Richard Russell, Principal Development Manager in the Windows Client Performance Group
Now I’m a dad, so it was also important that we gave parents parental controls so they can set appropriate boundares for their children as they play. Parents can create settings for each child whether a young teen or an elementary schooler, restricting their access to games by title, category game rating, or type of content, regardless of the game’s rating—even block specific games.
I’d also like to point out that the quality of games on Windows Vista continues to get better for everyone – we created the Games for Windows logo that you’ll find on many of the best-selling games – nearly 60 so far. That brand means that Microsoft has tested the games for compatibility, quality and safety, which gets even better on Windows Vista. And there’s many more great branded games coming this year that I can’t wait to play.
Neil Charney: Taking a moment to reflect, what always fascinates me is what people do with that technology once it becomes the platform. For instance, Windows XP had a lot of features that people didn’t really understand, care about or felt they needed. We’d say, ‘It has wireless support built into it,’ and people would think, ’What is this wireless? I don’t need wireless support.’ But within a couple of years, people were taking their laptops to work in coffee shops and accessing the Internet there.
So a year later, this is where my excitement really begins to build in earnest. With an established ecosystem, creative ideas are bubbling up and people are really starting to discover what the technologies in Windows Vista can do for them. One of my favorite examples has to do with the digital picture frame I gave my mother. Right now, if I want to change a photo, I have to go over to my mother’s house and update it. Not ideal.
Companies, like Samsung offer a set of digital photo frames that wirelessly connect to my Windows Live Space. I’ve created a folder on my account just for my mom, and any time I post new photos there – even from my phone – one click immediately streams the photo to the frame in her house.
Consumer desires are leading to a new wave of innovative PC form factors and designs. Last week we announced the availability of Dell (PRODUCT) RED PCs running Windows Vista Ultimate (PRODUCT) RED. This allows customers to not only have a great PC experience, but also participate in socially conscious shopping. They are also really great looking PCs.
Next year, we’re going to see some beautifully-designed systems that take advantage of the elegance of the operating system. Partners like HP, Gateway, Acer, Toshiba, ASUS, Lenovo, and Sony have released a whole range of PCs that are beautiful and chic. For example, HP’s TouchSmart PC, designed to take advantage of Windows Vista, is sleek, stylish and fun to use. According to Forrester, it has the potential to “create a new product category with a radical user interface.”
In general, we excited about where we are at today with Windows Vista. Working with our partners we are confident the Windows computing experience will get even better over the next 365 days. We look forward to providing more exciting experiences for Windows Vista users in the coming year.