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Gates, Ballmer Hit The Streets For Vista

New York — Microsoft put the full force of its executive suite behind the launch of Windows Vista with founder Bill Gates and CEO Steve Ballmer hosting events and hitting retailers to drum up hype for the much anticipated operating system.

Gates hosted a party in New York City on Jan. 29, did a quit stint on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and then headed to Europe where he would hit Edinburgh, Scotland; Bucharest, Romania; and Paris on Jan. 30. Ballmer and Dave Moorish, Best Buy’s merchandising senior VP, along with execs from Gateway and Hewlett-Packard were at Best Buy’s Manhattan flagship store to roll out the software to the public.

These events were just part of a larger marketing effort that featured 30 retail-based events nationwide, including several midnight madness parties.

In Manhattan, Ballmer briefly chatted with Cassidy Mason, a 12-year-old whose family helped test the beta version of Vista for Microsoft.

Ballmer said he was thrilled Vista was finally out in the public’s hands and he expects to receive a great deal of input from users in the coming months on how the software is operating and what needs to be improved, even after having millions of users act as beta testers.

Best Buy is well prepared for Vista, Moorish said, having trained 60,000 workers on the operating system and doing its own research to see how the application functioned.

Unlike previous Windows launches, which tended to attract only the geekier Best Buy customers during the first few days of availability, Moorish said Vista will bring in more average users because of its general utility.