Last week, I flew out to Las Vegas Nevada for the Windows Connections Conference.  It was held in the massive Mandalay Bay Resort Conference Center.  Have you ever tried to walk around in a 1,000,000 square foot facility?  Bring your roller blades. 

The conference looked to be a great success.  Lots of people, lots of great information and of course, everything Las Vegas has to "offer".  Harold Wong and I were going to tag team all three sessions we did, but in the end, we are so busy, it didn't make sense for each of us to prep for all three sessions.  So I did the Security Tidbits session and the Everything You Need to Know about Deployment in 60 Minutes.  I wasn't in my groove for the Security session.  It might have had something to do with the original slide deck Jesper had prepared sometime earlier.  I tried to "fix" it but it just wasn't one of my better performances.  However, I was definitely in my "zone" for the deployment session later.  One of the attendees commented to Harold they learned more in my 60 minute session than they did in the pre-conference 3.5 hour session.  Those are the kind of comments that get you up in the morning.

Of course last week was also a big week for Microsoft.  We released Office 2007 and Windows Vista to manufacturing.  This generated a ton of excitement at the conference and lots of questions at the Windows Vista kiosks Harold and I were manning.  The questions fell into several categories. 

  • Hardware - will my current machine run Vista?  What should I buy?  Should I wait?  What are you running Keith?
  • Software - where can I get Windows Vista for testing?  When will the RTM bits be available?  Will my apps run?  What is it going to cost me or my company?

Getting people to come talk to me at the kiosk was soo easy.  I started about 10 applications and then fired up some videos of Halo 3 and Halo Wars.  Every time my kiosk emptied, I would just use Flip3d to flip through the applications and waa laa, instantly fill the area around the kiosk.  Aero eye candy sells baby.  People were nothing but amazed when I was doing Flip3d demos with all of the applications and count them, TWO different videos playing.

Harold and I pulled a sneaky.  I had downloaded the RTM build Sunday before we flew to Vegas.  In fact, we ran the RTM bits of Office 2007 and Vista during our sessions and exhibits on Tuesday and Wednesday.  I couldn't tell anyone until we officially announced it on Wednesday.

So let me get to a few of those answers...

Question: What are you running?

Answer: Lenovo T60p with the Intel Core Duo T2500, Windows Vista x86 RTM, 2GB RAM, ATI Mobility FireGL v5200 with 256MB discrete video memory, Hitachi 100GB 7200rpm SATA 2.5" drive, Verizon EVDO wireless, etc.

Question: Will my machine run Windows Vista? 

Answer: I generally tell people if they are running Windows XP well, then they should be able to run Windows Vista.  Running Aero Glass will be dependant on the video card and amount of memory they have so there is no canned answer I can offer.  I demonstrated the Windows Vista Basic color scheme a lot so they would know what the experience would be like if their video card doesn't have enough juice to drive Glass.  I also pointed a lot of people to the http://www.microsoft.com/windowsvista/getready/default.mspx page because it is the one stop shopping area for hardware and application compatibility.  See the Upgrade Advisor link for some tests you can run right now.

Question: Should I buy now or wait?

Answer: This answer depends on the individual and their tinker skills.  It also depends on if they are a HDTV enthusiast.  Our hardware OEM partners are already shipping Windows Vista capable machines.  If your machine is on its last legs and is preventing you from doing real work, or having fun, buy now.  If you can wait, your wait isn't going to be very long.  We should have shrink wrap product on retail store shelves on 1/30/2007 and the pc makers will be shipping by then as well.  If you are a HDTV enthusiast, then you might consider waiting until the PC makers have started delivering the OpenCable Unidirectional Receiver (OCUR) Windows Vista solutions.  Contact your favorite OEM hardware maker for their release details.  This will allow you to record premium HDTV content to your PC.  Is that kewl or what?

Question: Where can I get Windows Vista RTM bits?

Answer:  We'll make the RTM bits available to our volume licensing customers, MSDN Universal and TechNet Plus online subscribers before the end of this month.  In fact, our target is 11/17.  That's a big hint folks.  If you had a hard time justifying the cost of the subscription before, you should have no problem now.  See http://www.microsoft.com/technet/windowsvista/get_it.mspx for more information.

Question: Will my apps run?

Answer:  Absolutely.  :)  Ok, that was a bit sarcastic, but if you want to do some testing, see http://www.microsoft.com/technet/windowsvista/appcompat/default.mspx for all of the available tools.  The Application Compatibility Toolkit v5.0 is still in development, but will be released very soon.  Goto http://connect.microsoft.com/ to signup for the download.

Question:  What does Windows Vista cost?

Answer:  It's free of course.  Ok, more bad sarcasm.  Windows Vista is not free.  However, if you buy a qualifying PC or laptop today, the OEM hardware maker will ship you your Express Upgrade later.  See http://www.microsoft.com/windowsvista/getready/expressupgrade.mspx for the promotion details.  You also need to look carefully at what each pc maker is offering.  See http://www.microsoft.com/windowsvista/getready/editions/default.mspx for the different Windows Vista editions.  Volume license customers should contact their account teams and resellers for pricing.

Harold and I also did a lot of work outside the conference.  As you might suspect, we are just a tad busy getting ready for the Windows Vista, Office 2007 and Exchange Server 2007 launch events.  We are going to be running some intense demos that are going to require more than one powerful laptop.  I predicted this back in March, but we needed proof to justify the hardware purchase requisition.  Sound familiar?  Well, in the evening, in our spare time, we ran a bunch of the demos using a two machine configuration.  Now we need Santa to come through.

Everything else that happened in Vegas is NDA.  What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas...  right Damon?  :)