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January 29, 2007

Vista launch: The wow starts at the bar

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano at 1:15 PM

NEW YORK -- Here in the world of perhaps the biggest Microsoft product launch ever, you wait on line in the bitter cold and biting wind to get into the Nokia Theater on Times Square. ("How come this isn't like the XP launch in the summertime? " asked one reporter.) It was renamed the Windows Vista Theater for today's purposes ... can't be celebrating in a space named for a competitor.

Don't get confused and get in line for MTV's "Total Request Live" by mistake.

If you're registered ahead, you get to cut to the front. Then you walk past the bomb-sniffing dog and ride a long escalator into a frenetic basement maze of product logos, free drinks and thumping music, all bathed in a futuristic Vista blue light and the glow of digital video displays.

The wow starts at the bar -- or bars. The seafood bar was particularly impressive. Crab and lobster claws, oyster shooters, jumbo shrimp. Over there are the pan-fried artichokes in saffron with curry mayonnaise. At least three full bars stocked with premium booze and eager servers. Even in the claustrophobic press room a waitress asks to bring you a drink. I'm still on deadline. It takes will power.

Now things are getting going with a group of drummers taking the stage to rev up the crowd for what promises to be a revved-up presentation from Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer.

How many people are here? Not sure. But the sign on the wall said the place can hold 3,212.

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Tricia Duryee
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