Windows XP gets a breezy welcome

More than 600 journalists and industry representatives gathered at a Toronto golf course to hear Microsoft executives tout the security and reliability of the new Windows XP operating system – but most found it hard to concentrate on the presentation.

High winds rattled the walls of the big-top tent at the City Core Golf Course, while organizers scurried to move the event indoors. But, as Microsoft Canada president Frank Clegg illustrated, the show must go on.

“The tent people are here, in case you are wondering, and they say not to worry about it (the wind),” he said, after watching people stare at the ceiling and the walls for much of the presentation.

“We’ve taken the strength of the NT code base and combined it with the ease of use, the wide array of drivers and the extensive support for peripherals offered by the Windows 9x [Windows 95 and 98] code base,” Clegg said. “We believe the opportunity over the next 10 years will have more of an impact than the last 50 years. It is the move from the mainframe to the PC.”

He continued by saying that XP is “10 times more reliable” than its predecessors Windows 95 or 98, which is important because “the PC is now becoming a critical part of life.”

A string of industry executives from Telus, Compaq, Intel, Dell, HP and others joined Clegg with presentations showing XP and its spin-off benefits.

Microsoft may need that kind of support, said Alister Sutherland, director of software at IDC Canada, because of a “climate of sharply curtailed external spending in business, particularly around IT.

“We are seeing for the first time in the IT industry an actual decline, negative growth, in hardware sales,” he said, adding that the decline creates two major problems.

First, if new hardware sales are suffering, operating systems sales will inevitably suffer because the new OS frequently comes bundled with new hardware.

“That’s a definite inhibitor to adoption rates,” Sutherland said. “The second [problem] is the hardware requirements for XP as compared to the earlier versions of Windows. It’s a hassle and any company that has hardware that doesn’t quite match the stats will have no incentive to adopt XP.”

But Microsoft may be able to find their ray of light if customer testimonials concerning security are all the company hopes they will be, he added.