Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Microsoft's Vista for Consumers at Home

With all the smoke, mirrors, and speculation about Vista, it has been hard to keep track of the goals for Vista. Here's what Microsoft says about Vista directly from the mouth of eHome division executive Joe Belfiori:

Executive Q&A: Joe Belfiore
Corporate VP, Microsoft Windows eHome Division

This year at the 2006 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Microsoft Corp. Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates revealed powerful new innovations for Windows® users that will be launched with the company’s next-generation operating system, Windows Vista™. The following brief Q&A with Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president of the Microsoft Windows eHome Division, will provide a sense for what the upcoming changes to Windows will mean.

How does Windows Vista improve consumers’ experiences?
Microsoft® Windows Vista offers four clear categories of benefits, the first being that it makes it safer and easier to accomplish everyday tasks. Windows Vista features safer browsing, greater control for parents over what their children view, and enhanced protection from threats such as viruses, worms, and other attacks. Second, the operating system features enhancements to help users instantly find what they want. These include integrated search capability throughout the operating system and a fresh, new interface that will help people find and organize information in a fast, personalized way. Third, Windows Vista enables people to be connected at home or on the go with fast off (previously called instant on/off) capabilities, a new mobility center that enables people to access and change mobile computer settings easily from one place, and new features that allow quicker and easier connecting and syncing while on the go. And fourth, Windows Vista will allow people to enjoy the latest in entertainment through new photo and video capabilities, an updated Windows Media® Player and Games Explorer, and an enhanced Windows Media Center experience.

How will Windows Vista change the way consumers use their PCs?
Perhaps the most dramatic change in how people will use their computers lies in the ability of Windows Vista to provide easier and wider access to an integrated yet seamless menu of entertainment functions. Beyond enhancing the users’ ability to work with their music and pictures, Windows Vista will allow them to watch live TV, record TV shows, and access the many Web services that provide “TV-like” content — and they’ll be able to do so using a remote control. The Media Center experience will feature a revamped user interface optimized for high-definition (HD) widescreen displays and large media libraries and will also deliver new HD content through a number of means, particularly by the inclusion of CableCARD support for U.S. cable companies, which will allow for the consumption of cable HD broadcasts. Through these scenarios, Windows Vista marries the worlds of computing and entertainment in a way that’s never been possible before, and we think this is something that consumers are really going to be excited about.

How is Microsoft working to bring this digital entertainment vision to fruition with Windows Vista?
This is a process that actually began with Windows XP Media Center Edition. Because Media Center has become so popular — with sales now surpassing 6.5 million units in just three years — a host of media and entertainment partners have now seen the potential of bringing digital media to the PC in new ways and have begun to build hardware and software that unite the best of the digital entertainment world with the world of computing. As a result, you’re seeing us work with a range of partners and service providers that you wouldn’t have necessarily associated with Microsoft just a few years ago. Today we’re working with companies such as MTV Networks and Showtime Networks Inc. to bring new content to our customers in new and exciting ways.

How does Microsoft envision Windows Vista changing the industry?
Windows Vista has created a buzz among Microsoft’s software, hardware, and services partners because it enables them to build new devices and programs on the platform in a way that wasn’t as easy or wasn’t even possible before. Windows 95 changed the industry dramatically, and we think that Windows Vista will provide a similar, almost revolutionary, raising of the bar for our developer ecosystem and the industry at large. For consumers, Windows Vista will simply provide clarity so they can safely and easily enjoy everything on their PCs, at home or on the go.

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