Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer: Windows Vista and the 2007 Microsoft Office System Worldwide Availability Celebration

Remarks by Bill Gates, Chairman, and Steve Ballmer, CEO, Microsoft Corporation
Windows Vista and the Microsoft 2007 Office System Worldwide Availability Celebration
The Windows Vista Theatre – Times Square
New York, N.Y.
January 29, 2007

ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Microsoft Chairman, Bill Gates. (Cheers, applause.)

BILL GATES: Well, it all started 24 years ago here in New York City. In 1983, Microsoft committed the company to graphical user interface. And there we were, the machines could barely keep up displaying the text, Windows could barely fit in memory. It took us two more years to get it all put together. And even explaining why we believed in graphical interface was very tough.

But that was our bet, our bet that not only could we do fantastic things with Windows, but it would become the platform that the software industry would build on, and that it would unleash an opportunity for hardware partners to do amazing things.

It was 12 years later that finally we could say our vision of graphics interface had succeeded. With Windows 95 and Office 95 there was an incredible level of excitement. Those products brought unbelievable features like long filenames — can you imagine it; 32-bit computing. And it really drove graphical interface into the mainstream. It led the software industry that had been built up around Windows to an incredible level of success. In fact, Windows became the majority of all software sold on all computers. And compatibility thrived with more and more manufacturers building great Windows machines.

And so here we are 12 years later. It’s a very different industry today, far larger and tackling a much broader range of tasks. In fact, we can say that 12 years ago, it was pretty narrow. It was creating documents, hoping you could print those documents. Fonts were an amazing thing; people couldn’t believe, wow, these fonts, they’re just incredible.

But we didn’t have instant messaging, the Internet was in its infancy, the browser was kind of an obscure feature that first came with Windows 95, and things like digital photography or moving telephony onto the Internet or TV onto the Internet or digital buying and selling with all the world’s marketplaces made more efficient through digital approaches, those were just a gleam in our eye. There were a fifth as many PCs as there are today.

Today, the vision of the digital lifestyle has really become mainstream. We talk about this as the digital decade because it’s now that we take the idea of everyone taking digital photographs for granted, or being able to organize their music on the PC for granted, or being able to use Media Center to record TV shows, being able to get the very best games and play online with other players.

So everything is becoming digital, and the platform that allows people to be creative and build new applications and show off new hardware advances, that’s a central element that allows it all to thrive.

So, Windows 95 was key to its era, and Windows Vista is key to the era we have today.

Broadband penetration is going up every year. People’s expectations for how we can do better digital health records, better education, better collaboration; all of those things rest on having this very strong platform.

Homes are expecting now to have integration, to be able to get their photos up in their living room, to be able to organize things in a rich way. Users don’t want to move from device to device and have it all be different for them. And so as things have gone digital, people have very, very high expectations. They want to be able to take their computers with them. In 1995 there were no portable machines, not to mention concepts like a tablet computer that would bring something like ink into the way that you interact with the machine.

People want their PCs now to work with their phones, which have become incredibly smart, and also a device that runs software. And you want to move back and forth and have that be something that’s completely seamless.

So, Windows has this exciting central position, a position that is used by thousands and thousands of companies to build their products.

So, it’s been 12 years since we’ve brought Windows and Office together, done a release where we’re just showing off the platform with Office innovation, a breakthrough there, and the breakthrough in Windows coming out together.

What kind of innovations are we talking about? Well, we don’t have time to list them all, but I like to group them in the following way. I think of the features that make it all easier. This is where we get things like search or the Office Ribbon, the Flip 3-D, the thumbnail previews; lots of things in that category of just making it easier. Because after all, people have a lot more files, a lot more photos, a lot more music, and we’ve got to make it simple to move around and find those things without forcing users to do a lot of work on their own.

The second category I think of is safer. And there’s a lot here because as the Internet has become mainstream, the issue of making sure your information is protected, that you don’t lose it, that you understand your privacy and software is not working against you, that becomes very important.

So, here we have the new IE capabilities, anti-phishing, anti-spyware, parental controls, a lot of things so that you have safety without having to spend a lot of time thinking about it.

Then I think about entertainment. This is where all the great new games that use DX10 come in. We’ve got some neat free games that go along with it.

This is Photo Gallery to take both movie clips and photos, and tag them and navigate through them; DVD Maker that makes it easy to do a rich presentation and just send that out to all of the relatives; support for high-definition, high-definition definitely moving into the mainstream, and now Windows with great support for that.

Another category is better connected. This is how we make it simple to find the Wi-Fi resources and understand if something is not working, exactly what that is. This is where we’ve got the extensions for RSS, RSS support in Windows, RSS support in Office as well; XML capability throughout the system, lots of APIs that relate to that, and Office itself even using XML file formats. That’s a standard that Microsoft got behind, and it’s really gotten to critical mass for the entire industry, facilitating exchange of information in a very rich way.

It’s definitely a platform for innovation. We’ve opened it up, and already we’re seeing partners doing great things.

There are two ways that people are going to get hold of these products. With [Windows] Vista you can upgrade on the machine that you’ve got today, and we’ve made that easier than ever. People just go to the Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor and then they run that, it will tell them exactly what they need to do, what’s going on with their system; or, of course, they can get that with a new system.

Well, the best way to understand all the enthusiasm that you’re hearing from Microsoft is to actually see the product running. So let me introduce Mike Sievert, corporate vice president, to come up and give us a quick glimpse of Windows Vista and Office 2007. Welcome, Mike. (Cheers, applause.)

MIKE SIEVERT: Thank you, Bill.

Well, good afternoon, everybody. Well, thank you all for being here tonight, and more importantly thank you to all the families and beta testers who are gathered here tonight that have helped to make Windows Vista and Office 2007 the highest quality releases in Windows and Office history.

Now, I know because of that, many of you are very familiar with these products, and so I’m going to do this demonstration from a different point of view. What I’d like to do over the next few minutes is just walk you through a little bit how these products are helping our family — I’m a father and a husband — and how these products are helping our family to live our digital lifestyle, how they’re making it easier and safer and better connected and more entertaining as we go about living our digital lifestyle.

Well, let’s start with photos. You know, in the last year, more than 2 billion photos have been taken digitally around the world. It’s no secret that this scenario has burst into the mainstream. And that’s why it’s so important that photo management become easier than it’s ever been before.

Now, in our family we use tagging, Windows Vista’s new tagging feature in the Windows Photo Gallery. Every time I bring in pictures from my digital camera, I just add one of these keywords or several of these keywords to each picture with a simple drag and drop maneuver. And what that allows me to do is to use the built-in search capabilities of Windows Vista to find all of my pictures. Gone are the days when I have to remember where I keep all these pictures in which folders and how I have it organized, because Windows Vista does it for me. I type the first few letters of my son Nathan’s name, and up comes every picture in my entire library that has to do with Nathan.

Well, I’ll call up another picture here. You know, one of our beta testers, our Windows Vista family, is Robin Mason. She tells us that she has more than 40,000 pictures in her library. And that means it had better be pretty efficient to get the editing job done, and our testers told us we had to make editing easier than ever before, and build it right into Windows Vista.

And so I can do quick things like crop the picture if I want to, or make adjustments to the color or the exposure. Or take a look at this; with a single click I can just run through my pictures one by one and give them that perfect exposure. Isn’t that fantastic, that beautiful exposure every time? (Applause.)

Well, you know, one of the things that our testers have told us is that it’s really important that we build right in the DVD burning capabilities. And so I’ve chosen just a few pictures here and videos that I’m going to make a DVD out of. And you may notice that this burn icon is scattered in a few areas throughout Windows Vista, so it’s always right there easy for me to find. I’ll simply click on it with those pictures and videos, and click next, and you’ll see that I get some great options on the DVD menus that I can choose from. And I like this one right here, I’ll click preview, and Windows Vista will make me a beautiful DVD to send to my grandma. Look at that; it’s ready to render and play on any DVD player in the world. It’s that easy, and it’s built right in. (Cheers, applause.)

Well, in our family we don’t just manage digital photos, we also do projects. And they range from the simple to the complex. I’ll just use the built-in search and pull up a document. Now, this would be a document that you’d send out around the holidays, maybe that annual letter about your year. And as you can see, this particular one needs a little bit of work.

And so in the old days it might have taken me a couple of hours to figure out how to get this formatted just right, but with Office 2007 everything has been made easier. The Ribbon gives me all these great choices that are relevant to what I want to do. And one of the things I want to start with, with this document, is to get some formatting work done.

Now, what I can do, in the old days I would have had to go in and make font changes, and try to figure out how to get the columns to wrap around those pictures, but what I can do with Office 2007 is I can simply change the entire format of this document globally. And watch carefully at the document as I mouse over these different settings; look at that, the entire document changes for me as I go along, and I can see exactly how it will look after I format it. Fantastic; I like that one right there. (Applause.)

And so now I’ve got the job partly done, but remember that picture that we edited a minute ago, and lightened up. I want to pull that into the document as well. And so I’ll simply search for it using Windows Vista’s built-in search, bring it right in. It comes full size, but no problem; with Office 2007 I don’t have to guess what percentage to make it, I can just drag it to the size I want. And by the way, notice the Ribbon at the top; it changed. Because I’m now working with pictures, and Office 2007 knows I’m working with pictures, and that ribbon has been smart. I’ve got a selection right here to center that picture. I want to take this nice picture of Nathan and put him on the left, and this picture of Jonathan, and I’ll put him at right center.

Well, I’m almost done with this document, and it’s almost ready to go, but I want it to have that polish that will really make me proud, because it’s going to be going to my extended family. How many of you are the tech support for your entire extended family? I think this is probably the gathering of people that that was pretty relevant for. Well, you know what, that letter to the family had better look good then, shouldn’t it? And so I want it to have the rounded edges, and the reflective effects and things like that, the kinds of things that maybe would have used to take a Ph.D. in graphics arts to figure out. Not with Office 2007. What I can do is simply mouse right over that, click it, and look at that, in less than two minutes a beautiful document ready for broad distribution. Isn’t that great? I love Office 2007; it makes everything so much easier. (Applause.)

Well, what am I going to do with all that time I just saved? Well, in our case, Games for Windows, that’s what. And, you know, Windows is by far the world’s most popular gaming platform. More than 200 million people play Windows games around the world, and Windows Vista has taken it all to the next level. Windows Vista makes gaming more powerful with DirectX 10 technology, and upcoming titles like Company of Heroes and Flight Simulator 10 — Company of Heroes is here now.

And, of course, this is my Games Explorer. This is what Windows Vista does to make my gaming experience easier than it’s ever been, because all of my games are here in one place where I can manage them the same way.

I’m going to step into an upcoming release of Uno for Windows Vista, and I’m going to use my Xbox 360 controller plugged right into my Windows Vista machine, and I’m going to pull up a multiplayer game. Because what Uno for Windows Vista can do is something that games before have never been able to do, and that’s cross-platform play. You’re going to see the familiar Xbox 360 set of settings, and I’m going to use the Microsoft Live gaming platform to see if I can find my 10-year old son Jonathan at home in Seattle, Washington on his Xbox.

Now, he goes by the alias, Ice Monkey, and you can see that he’s online. That’s good because I’m on stage, and this would be important at this point. (Laughter.) And I’m going to go ahead and select him and invite him to play this game of Uno with me.

Now, you know, I travel quite a bit, and maybe I’m in a hotel room in Tokyo with my Windows Vista laptop, and it’s really important that I’m able to have connections with my family when I’m gone. And this scenario is fantastic because it allows me to steal away a few minutes to play a game with Jonathan across thousands of miles, eight time zones, and two gaming platforms.

Take a look at this as I press Start. We launch into a game together and in just a moment across all those times we’ll be playing cross-platform game play.

There it is. Now you need to applaud that, because I had to wait a minute. All right. (Applause.) And there it is, we’re all in this game playing across the thousands of miles, me on my Windows Vista machine, and Jonathan on his Xbox.

Well, that’s something that my boys just love, and now I’m going to show you something that they just hate, and that’s parental controls. You know, Microsoft is really leading the way when it comes to family safety. And it’s so important in today’s connected world. I’ll show you a scenario where I’m going to manage the settings for Nathan, my 11-year-old son, and he has a PC in his bedroom, and it’s really important to me to be able to understand what’s happening on his PC behind closed doors.

The first thing I’m going to do is I’m going to set some time limits for Nathan. It’s as easy as that. Now the overnight hours are off limits for Nathan. It’s as simple as that. Isn’t that fantastic?

I’ll go into games. And Nathan’s 11 years old, but I’m going to set games for him for teen and above, using the Electronic Software Ratings Board settings built right into Windows Vista, along with nine other ratings boards around the world. And I can do that because I know about Nathan’s maturity. And by the way, right here, I can choose specific teen games that may not be appropriate for him, and go ahead and block those.

And probably more importantly, under this link I can view activity reports. It’s a report card of sorts that tells me the kinds of experiences Nathan has had, the kinds of Web sites he’s tried to access and been blocked, the kinds of instant messaging sessions and e-mail sessions he’s having, the games he’s attempted to launch so that we can have the right kinds of conversations, and I can help to keep my family safe.

So, that’s just a little bit about what happens in a bedroom scenario with a child’s PC, but what about the living room? You know, one of the most exciting happening in our entire industry today is the explosive growth of big panel TVs in people’s living rooms. It’s one of the most exciting things.

And, you know, the key question that people are asking about that scenario is how do I get all that interesting PC content onto that big panel in the living room, those photos, those videos, those downloadables from the Internet?

Well, the best answer to that, the most powerful answer may surprise you. Because it’s something that ten and a half million people already have. And that’s Media Center Extender built right in to every Xbox 360 around the world.

I’ve just switched to an Xbox. This is output from an Xbox. I’m going to use my Xbox controller. And in this house it’s connected to a Windows Vista PC. You can see the new Windows Vista Media Center user interface, many more menu choices surfaced up to top to take advantage of today’s 16×9 monitors.

I’ll go into — oh, I’ll take a recorded program from “The Office.” This is a high-definition recording that I made on my Windows Vista machine using built-in cable card support coming on upcoming PCs.

And I can, of course, record any high-definition feed I want. I don’t have to pay a subscription, I don’t have to pay a download feed, and I get any choice I want, not just a few studios.

So, there’s a high-definition feed of “The Office” coming in through my Windows Vista PC, but being played on my Xbox. Take a look at this; this gorgeous menu overlay where I can actually go — look at that high fidelity coming across my home network. (Applause.)

Because what we like to do on our Media Center Extender is we like to look at our photos, and it’s best if it has a musical overlay. And so I’m going to go and pick a track from my Windows Vista PC for Angels and Airwaves. We’re so fortunate to have them with us tonight; weren’t they fun? And come on, weren’t they great? That was great; that was Angels and Airwaves opening up. (Cheers, applause.)

I’m going to pick off a track from them. I’m going to play it. And now that track starts, and all I have to do is back out a spot, and pick some pictures. And you know, when the extended family comes over, it’s just great, we can all get together, take a look at those summer photos, and it’s easier than ever before to get them up on that big panel, and look at that slideshow. The music track, the pictures, our summer vacation: It’s all right there in my Media Center Extender, connected to a Windows Vista machine. All that was on an Xbox 360.

Well, that’s been just a little picture of fun and entertainment. And, you know, entertainment comes in many forms and fun comes in many forms. Sometimes it’s sophisticated things like high-definition feeds, and sometimes it’s simple things, little elegant things that just make the PC experience great. We’ve sprinkled those all throughout Windows Vista. And one of my favorite ones is something that’s a Windows Vista Ultimate extra. It’s just a simple little thing that answers the question, hey, you know, all those backgrounds, all those beautiful vistas that seem to be shown with Windows Vista PCs all the time, why shouldn’t they do something more interesting than just sit there? Why shouldn’t they do something just a little bit surprising, something like this? DreamScene, a Windows Vista Ultimate extra; isn’t that fantastic, a motion video on my desktop.

Well, look, it’s been my pleasure to share with you some of the ways that for our family Windows Vista and Office 2007 are making our digital lifestyle easier, safer, better connected when we’re on the go, and a lot more fun.

Thank you for everything you’re doing to make these products, and have a great time tonight. Thank you very much. (Cheers, applause.)

(Video segment.)

ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Microsoft Chief Executive Officer, Steve Ballmer. (Cheers, applause.)

STEVE BALLMER: Well, thanks. It’s an honor and privilege to have a chance to be here today with you all for what is not only the biggest launch in software history, it’s also the broadest release we’ve ever done. I hope you liked a little bit of the TV footage that we just had a chance to show you. We’re certainly incredibly, incredibly excited about the products, we’re incredibly excited about what I think it means to our customers, to the PC industry, and really we hit the ground running, starting with the first copy of the product. I know we had one delivered in New Zealand to one of the members of the famous New Zealand rugby team, the All Blacks. I’ve been hearing about the purchasing going on in Akihabara in Japan, and we’re kind of advancing around the world in what is truly, truly an amazing global event.

The product will be available today, broadly speaking, since it’s already tomorrow, today, whenever, in some of these countries. It will be available in over 70 countries. We start out in 19 languages; we’ll be available in over 99 languages by the end of this calendar year. Afterward you can go think whether you can name 99 individual languages, but that’s sort of the extent and the cover and the reach that we’ll have with the Windows Vista product.

The product is available in over 39,000 retail outlets, in addition to people selling direct, software resellers, hardware resellers around the world. And you can literally find computers from thousands of different computer OEMs, system builders, available starting tomorrow that have Windows Vista preinstalled on them, making it really the biggest impact release we’ve ever done.

If you just take a look at it and say, how many technical people, developers, IT people, will be involved working with [Windows] Vista, we estimate that number will be over a million in Europe alone by the end of this year, and close to 2 million here in the United States, people who will learn [Windows] Vista, use [Windows] Vista, and professionally be involved with it, supporting it for consumers and businesses alike; so, truly the broadest release in software history.

We feel like in many senses it’s also the best release we’ve ever made in terms of galvanizing industry support. Hardware vendors, software application writers, people who build cameras and peripherals and photo frames: There will be over 1.5 million individual hardware devices that are supported and enabled. And if you bought an old version, a new version, you’re interested in some new thing that’s coming along or something you’ve had for years on the hardware front, Windows Vista will have by far the broadest support for hardware of any operating system in all time.

There are already over 2,500 individual software products that have been certified with Windows Vista, and so old applications, as well as people taking advantage of new capabilities to do exciting new things.

The New York Times has a new reader application, which is a phenomenal online experience, and you’ll just see more and more of these specialized applications that really look like [Windows] Vista, feel like [Windows] Vista, and share, if you will, in some of the wow that is at the heart and soul of [Windows] Vista.

You know, if you think back, as Bill did, to the time of 1995, the PC was sort of solitary in the technology world. The Internet wasn’t really developed, people didn’t own cell phones really very much, or digital cameras. Here we are 12 years later, and Windows Vista comes to market, there’s many technology products, but at the center the product that brings it all together, the hardware, the cameras, the photo frames, the connectivity to other machines in the house, the new applications, connections to Web sites, it really is the PC running Windows and particularly Windows Vista that enables that next generation.

We have a lot of partners that we’ve worked with in the development of [Windows] Vista, just as we had over 5 million beta testers that we worked with in the development of Windows Vista. Today, we want to have a chance to have you experience, hear from, and see some of the innovations from our partners. And we’re going to have a chance to hear from Intel, from AMD, from Dell, HP, Toshiba, Sony, Gateway, and many, many more about some of the hardware innovations that really take advantage of Windows Vista and Office 2007.

So, why don’t we roll the video, and then some of these partners will have a chance to join me here on stage. Roll the video, please.

(Video segment.)

(Cheers, applause.)

STEVE BALLMER: Well, I hope you get something of a sense of the enthusiasm the partners have, and some of the reasons and the fantastic innovation that our partners will bring, particularly in the hardware front, around Windows Vista.

I would like to have a chance to introduce some of the partners who are here today to you, and have them join us here on stage. First, let me say thank you and welcome to the CEO of Dell, Kevin Rollins. Kevin? (Cheers, applause.)

Next please welcome onstage the Executive Vice President, Sales and Marketing for Intel Corporation, Sean Maloney. Please welcome Sean. (Cheers, applause.)

From Toshiba Corporation please welcome Hisatsugu Nonaka, CEO and President of the Computer Division for Toshiba Corporation. Nonaka-san. (Applause.)

From AMD Corporation, chairman and CEO, Hector Ruiz. (Applause.)

And from Hewlett-Packard, please welcome the Executive Vice President of the Personal Systems Group, Todd Bradley. (Applause.)

I want to thank all of these folks for the incredible work, the incredible innovation, and I certainly encourage all of you to get out and check out the new systems coming from these companies with the great technology and semiconductors that have been developed and that we’ve worked together to exploit so hard. I know you’ll appreciate them.

Thanks to all of you, and thanks to all of you for this time, we appreciate it. (Cheers, applause.)

BILL GATES: Well, pulling together the most important, most-used software at a whole new level with [Windows] Vista and the most-used application with Office 2007, a lot of people have come together to make it happen, inside the company and outside the company.

We really want to thank the employees for their hard work. This has been one that required a lot of dedication and driving to get that highest level of quality.

I want to make a special mention of Jim Allchin, who’s been at Microsoft 16 years, and really personally made a huge commitment to [Windows] Vista quality. (Cheers, applause.)

Another group that played a special role in helping us get this to come together are the customers who have been working with us even before the product released. And the numbers here are pretty unbelievable. We’ve had over 5 million people download copies of Windows Vista and Office 2007.

What that means is this is by far the most tested and highest quality release that we’ve ever made. Our testing groups internally were able to automate and do more performance than ever before. We were able to take observations of user sessions and see what people were having a hard time with. In the case of Office they observed over a billion different sessions and were able to look at that and use that to tune the user interface in the right way.

So this means we’re not just guessing about what customers want; they have spoken, they have told us, and that reflects in the products, making it safer and easier for the literally hundreds of millions who will use the product from this point forward.

So, that has been an incredible involvement, and the amount of time is phenomenal, so a special thanks to everyone who participated in the beta testing. (Cheers, applause.)

Now, a really special part of the customer feedback was a completely new program we did where we said we’ve got to make sure we understand how these products are going to work in the home. We’re really talking about the digital lifestyle, let’s get out there and see it at work, and let’s listen to what families have to say about what they want.

So, two years before today, we started this program, and we went out to 50 families in seven different countries, including Japan, Germany, Mexico, and we gave them the beta one product, and we spent lots of time with them, hearing what they’d like to do, hearing their frustration. They identified, just this group alone, over 800 things that they wanted us to change. So even features like what we got in the case of the DVD definitely came directly out of this.

So, we’ve got a video that talks about this program. Let’s take a look at that.

(Video segment.)

(Cheers, applause.)

STEVE BALLMER: I want you all to join us in welcoming the Regan family. We’ve had a great opportunity to get to know one another. (Cheers, applause.)

I’ve got to ask you, what was it like to be a Windows Vista family?

REGAN FAMILY MEMBER: It was truly an exceptional experience, it really was.

STEVE BALLMER: That’s great, that’s great. And tell us a little bit about the feature that you guys drove us to go do in Windows Vista.

REGAN FAMILY MEMBER: I thought it was a really good idea to have a burn-to-disk button right in photo gallery, and you guys must have agreed, because it’s in there. (Laughter.)

BILL GATES: Well, that’s fantastic. We really want to thank you for helping us create the highest quality release ever. We’re going to make sure you get the very, very first copy, so here it is, the first copy, signed. (Cheers, applause.)

REGAN FAMILY MEMBER: Thank you very much.

BILL GATES: And so now we come to the moment we’ve all been waiting for.

STEVE BALLMER: Well, you know, we say the wow starts now, kind of time to launch this product. But it hasn’t happened — oh, not yet! (Laughter.) The Regans are really going to help us right now start the wow. So, kids, on the count of three, we’ll push the Wow Starts Now button and launch Windows Vista. What do you think: one, two, three! Go do it! Yeah! (Cheers, applause.)

(Video segment.)