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 Thursday, 25 October, 2001, 21:15 GMT 22:15 UK
New York welcomes XP launch
Choir at Microsoft Windows XP launch ceremonies in New York
Ceremonies began with 'America the Beautiful'

If attendees of the official launch ceremony in New York of Microsoft's latest operating-system software were expecting a splashy affair, they may have been a bit disappointed.

The recent terror attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon have caused American business to rethink the way it does business, including the way in which it launches new products.

Microsoft vice president of platforms groups Jim Allchin
Microsoft's Jim Allchin talks up Windows XP
Gone is the bravado that has characterised much of the promotion around US products, replaced by softer adverts that speak to the vulnerability felt by so many Americans.

The terror attacks even caused Microsoft founder Bill Gates to question whether New York was still the best place to unleash his firm's $200m promotion for the next generation of Windows software.

From the sublime...

If the launch of a new product can ever be a dignified affair, Microsoft efforts on Thursday could at least be called subdued.

From when a Gospel choir took the stage in an auditorium to sing "America the Beautiful" to an appearance by New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Microsoft credited the American democratic system for permitting it to become the premier technology company known around the globe - and New York as its nerve centre.

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates and New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani
Mayor Giuliani thanks Mr Gates for his support of New York
"New York City is the perfect place to announce the worldwide availability of Windows XP," Mr Gates said during his keynote speech, announcing the unveiling.

The Microsoft chairman added that he wanted to "urge all Americans to join us in recognising that New York is absolutely open for business."

For his part Mayor Giuliani expressed his gratitude to Mr Gates for keeping his faith in New York at a time when many of its financial-services firms are cutting tail and leaving town.

New York City has been through the worst attack ever on US soil, Mr Giuliani said. "But the end result is that New York City has emerged from that - and continues to emerge - stronger, much more confident in our ability to handle this [and] much more confident in our system."

The mayor also thanked Microsoft and the technology industry for helping to restore the city's emergency operations centre, formerly located in Building 7 of the World Trade Center, which was destroyed on 11 September.

... to the ridiculous

Later during the hour-and-a-half presentation, television's "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" host Regis Philbin joined the festivities, staging a mock version of his show with Mr Gates.

Mr Philbin mused out loud that Mr Gates' appearance on his show, in which contestants earn money by answering questions correctly, would be a bit of a demotion for the billionaire.

Regis Philbin with Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates
Bill-ionaire Gates joined Regis Philbin in a mock 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire'
Several blocks away in Bryant Park, rock music star Sting performed in a free concert to help usher in the launch of Windows XP.

One observer remarked that the sight of dozens of computer geeks trying to dance to a beat was more disconcerting than the number of times her Windows-based computer crashed.

Gates as salesman

In a remarkable bit of candour during his keynote speech Mr Gates acknowledged that previous editions of Windows were prone to crashing.

He also poked a bit of fun at himself by showing a tape from the unveiling of Windows '95 in which he predicted its successor would be far better and arrive in three years - it actually took six.

He also heralded the death toll for MS-DOS, the computer operating system Mr Gates himself helped develop 20 years ago.

Windows XP's Home Edition is the first consumer version of Windows software that surrenders its MS-DOS roots for the more robust "NT kernel" on which XP is based.

In a ceremony, staged to simulate HAL, the rogue computer from the film, "2001: A Space Odyssey", Mr Gates typed the word "Exit" for the last time, signalling the end of MS-DOS as the base for Windows.

With that Mr Gates said, "Well, that movie wasn't called 2001 for nothing."

Microsoft launches its new operating system, called Windows XP

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21 Jun 01 | Business
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