Windows Vista Booty: Microsoft's Largesse Is More Than I Can Take - InformationWeek

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2/2/2007
05:30 PM
John Foley
John Foley
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Windows Vista Booty: Microsoft's Largesse Is More Than I Can Take

Microsoft spared little expense in this week's consumer launch of Windows Vista. In New York, it started with 16 dancers, dangling from ropes, unveiling the Vista logo on the side of a building, and ended with ear-piercing music, hors d'oeuvres, and a ceremonial pushing of "The Wow Starts Now" button. Then the real goodies came out -- duffel bags stuffed with more than $600 of software,

Microsoft spared little expense in this week's consumer launch of Windows Vista. In New York, it started with 16 dancers, dangling from ropes, unveiling the Vista logo on the side of a building, and ended with ear-piercing music, hors d'oeuvres, and a ceremonial pushing of "The Wow Starts Now" button. Then the real goodies came out -- duffel bags stuffed with more than $600 of software, games, devices, and more.Computer-industry people love giveaways. At big trade shows, it's not unusual to see college-educated people stand at a booth for 10 minutes to get a free T-shirt with some vendor's imprint. The Vista launch was held in the Nokia Theater in Times Square. Leaving the auditorium after the main event, I bumped into a line of people that extended the length of the hallway, around the corner, and beyond. I figured this was the queue for martinis and wine, but I was wrong. It was for the duffel bags.

In the bar, attendees dug into their bags and pulled out box after box of software. As a journalist who covers Microsoft, I knew I had to have one of these bags, even though I knew I couldn't keep it. So I picked up a bag. Here's what was inside, with estimated retail value:

Windows Vista Ultimate edition, $250 Transfer cable for upgrading to Vista, $26 Office 2007, Home and Student edition, $150 Zoo Tycoon 2 game software, $20 Lego Star Wars II game software, $25 Xbox 360 controller for Windows, $30 T-Mobile DayPass hotspot card, $10 2-Gbyte SanDisk Cruzer Micro flash drive, $70 Gemline duffel bag with embroidered Windows Vista logo, $20

That adds up to $601, not including an armful of other miscellaneous stuff: Windows Live USB key, Office Live trial card, Windows Vista Media DVD, Windows Vista "storybook," Windows Marketplace information card, Windows Vista magazine, and a mouse pad.

I can't keep all this stuff: a) because I'm not a reviewer; b) because my company limits gifts to $25; and c) because journalists shouldn't accept freebies from companies they cover. So, I'll be giving it all away, with one exception. I need a new mouse pad, so I'll keep that. But I'll make a donation to one of my favorite charities, The Smile Train, that more than covers the cost.

Microsoft, of course, can afford this kind of beneficence because it stands to make billions of dollars in Vista and Office 2007 sales in the years ahead. The day may come when Web-based software and open source force Microsoft to lower retail prices for its lucrative cash cows. But that day's not here yet.

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