OCTOBER 29, 2001
Windows XP: No Longer Just for Accountants
If it's good enough for Regis Philbin, it's good enough for video, audio and design professionals. That was the message out of New York last week as Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates officially launched the new era in personal computing with the release of Windows XP.
"It seems so long ago when all our operating system could do was make a 'beeping' sound," Gates told a jubilant audience of crash test dummies during the announcement. "But since those early days of 1991, we've absconded every technology available, and now we're ready to refocus all of our efforts back into crushing the competition." He added, "Even at Microsoft, we recognized the need for third-party developers to exist just long enough for them to develop our technologies for us. Now we feel that all of the technology we need is currently available to us, and we can officially close this chapter of American innovation."
New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani was also on hand for the event.
"As a former U.S. Attorney, I'm impressed with how much you've managed to get away with," Giuliani said. "It's a tribute to our country during this time of crisis that a company with a lot of money can still make it out there. I think Windows XP, with its ability to make sounds and pictures, is really going to tear up the computer scene.
"Oh, and thanks for the $10 million," he added. The $10 million referred to in the speech is the donation Microsoft made for the relief of New York following the Sept. 11 bombing, a full 0.03 percent of Microsoft's expected $29 billion fiscal year revenues.
Microsoft is credited with cleverly using the technology of others for its own financial gain and the ruination of the original inventors.
"We've redefined what it means to be innovative in the new economy," Gates told cronies at the Windows XP launch event. "To be a truly innovative technology company, you have to sit back and let others pour their lives into development and marketing and then reap the rewards for yourself." Gates then went on to cite several examples of this, which included the WIndows operating system, the mouse, the Windows Media multimedia player, the Web browser, e-mail, networking and virtually every other technology found on a Windows system, all of which at one level or another had been created by someone else.
Windows XP is described by at least one person as "a miracle of this new concept of innovation." Boasting features that were previously found in only eight or nine other operating systems, the new Windows XP makes it possible for the Windows user base, composed mostly of accountants, to download MP3s and movies and even play back such files.
"It seems like just yesterday when this Atari craze was taking off," said Regis Philbin, special celebrity guest at the Windows XP launch event. "But this Windows thing is really super. It's too technical for me, but I think it's at least twice as good as Atari."
Our readers might recall that Atari was a game system manufacturer whose products could display graphics and make sounds back in the 1980s. Microsoft officials announced that they had caught up to Atari technology back in 1991 with the addition of sounds to the Windows computing experience.
"We believe sound will be an important technology for tomorrow's computer users," a Microsoft spokeswoman said in 1991. "We're glad a third-party developer has introduced the technology to our platform. In the coming years, we will welcome other audio technologies, which we will then wrap up into our operating system under the Microsoft brand name."
Current Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was not on hand for the Windows XP launch. A Microsoft spokesman said he felt that such an event was better delegated to a lesser employee, in this case Bill Gates, who stepped down from his chief executive role in a public relations move back in January 2000.
Back then, Microsoft had just released Windows 2000, which it hailed as "a major technology shift that will transform the industry in the way the Graphical User Interface (GUI) and the Internet did."
Last week, Gates addressed this statement, saying, "Oh, we were just kidding about that. But we're not kidding about Windows XP. This is the be-all and end-all of the personal computing revolution."
When asked whether Gates could envision any new technologies being incorporated into a future operating system, he replied flatly, "No."
But he said he does not rule out the possibility of a third-party developer--if any are left--developing some wild, unimaginable technology that might prove financially viable for assimilation into the Microsoft family of technologies.
Following the launch event, attendees were packed up, crated over to Bryant Park and reassembled for a free concert featuring Sting.
Dave Nagel is the producer of Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; host of several World Wide User Groups, including Synthetik Studio Artist, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign, Adobe LiveMotion, Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; and executive producer of the Digital Media Net family of publications. You can reach him at [email protected].