Steve Ballmer has attempted to end rumours that Windows Vista will be the last Windows client OS, claiming that Microsoft has "plenty more where that came from" at a press event to mark the consumer launch of the new OS and Office 2007 in New York.
Sitting alongside executives from some of Microsoft's most important partners -- such as Intel, Hewlett-Packard and Dell -- Ballmer said there is plenty of room for innovation on the PC, and Microsoft plans to continue to build upon the user-interface, security and multimedia enhancements in Vista.
"We've got a very long list of stuff our engineers want to do, a long list of stuff all of the companies here want us to do," he said. "There are so many areas where we need innovation."
However, Ballmer was hesitant to talk much about what comes after Vista, dodging a question about if and when customers will see the first service pack for Vista. "We'll put one out if we need to," he said.
Ballmer was his usual boisterous self on the eve of Tuesday's consumer launch of Vista and Office 2007 -- the first time Microsoft's two most important software products have been released together in 12 years. Still, there was a subdued air in the room at Cipriani, where press and analysts gathered for the first of two Vista events in New York. Five years in the making and plagued by several delays, Vista has been a constant subject of scrutiny for some time, making Tuesday's release an anticlimax.
Though there has been widespread analysis and press coverage claiming that many customers plan to take a wait-and-see approach to adopting Vista, Ballmer was more optimistic. He predicted that Vista would be adopted five times faster than Windows 95 and twice as fast as Windows XP in the next three months, and called the opportunity for partners to drive value for customers with Vista "huge."
Ballmer noted that he expects most of the units of Vista that ship will be pre-installed on hardware, and that sales of the packaged OS will be considerably less.
"The bulk of the units will wind up going out with new computers," he said. To emphasize the importance of hardware partners in Vista sales, Ballmer shared the stage with notable executives from its key hardware partners.
Joining him Monday were Kevin Rollins, president and CEO of Dell; Sean Maloney, executive vice president of Intel; Hisatsugu Nonaka, president and CEO of the Personal Computer and Network Co., Toshiba; Hector Ruiz, chairman and CEO of Advanced Micro Devices; and Todd Bradley, executive vice president, Personal Systems Group, HP.
All of Microsoft's partners naturally came out in support of Vista, but perhaps it was Ruiz who had the most original comment of the day. Citing his own Latino heritage, the AMD executive noted that "Vista is a Spanish word" meaning "view," and congratulated Ballmer on Microsoft's choice of name for its new OS.
"We’re now into this visualization age of computing," Ruiz said. "People are ready for a change."
New York's festivities -- which include an evening presentation by Ballmer and Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates followed by a launch reception -- are two of several launch events around the globe to celebrate the consumer releases Vista and Office 2007. Vista has already been on sale in New Zealand, Japan and other countries where it already is Jan. 30. The products will go on sale at midnight tonight in various local time zones in the U.S.