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Windows 10 Launch: Online but Not On Line

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What if you had a party and you found out everyone came for the food and not to see you? That was the case for people who showed up for Microsoft's Windows 10 launch party at the Roosevelt Field mall in Garden City, N.Y. -- one of nine Microsoft-owned retail stores picked for celebrity events for the launch of Windows 10. Lower key, in-store festivities were planned for all 110 Microsoft Stores in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.

It's a far cry from Microsoft's biggest launch event nearly two decades ago, when computer and electronics stores all over the world opened at midnight for the launch of Windows 95, the desktop OS that ushered in the mainstream PC era. While today's launch of Windows 10 was decidedly more low key and primarily virtual, in the early hours at least it appears to be a non event.

At the Best Buy Store in Westbury, N.Y., other than a few balloons and a couple of signs, it was business as usual. In fact the sign in the front entrance flags the newest Apple MacBook and the Surface Pro 3s still have Windows 8.1 running on them. A few machines do appear to have Windows 10 on them but other than a few people browsing the Best Buy Microsoft department, there was no extra influx of customers. At the Staples store next door, there was no one by their modest PC section and the few systems that were turned on were also running Windows 8.1.

When I asked an employee at Micro Center, also in Westbury, why the store wasn't opening early for the Windows 10 launch, he said Microsoft prohibited the store from doing so. "They still call the shots and they want the focus to be on their stores," he said, though added that the retalier has Windows 10-equipped machines ready to go.

At Roosevelt Field, one of the largest shopping malls in the country, Microsoft is showcasing an appearance by Abby Wambach, who was on the U.S. team that won the women's World Cup Soccer championship this summer.

A line for passes for Wambach's 7 p.m. appearance -- and to take a look at Windows 10, of course  -- formed at 7 a.m. By the time I arrived around 9 a.m. there were about 100 people on that line. I started asking people if they were there to check out Windows 10 and they all universally said they were there to see Abby Wambach. Another who was there asked me "what is Windows 10?" With his two daughters in tow, he continued: "I'm a paper and pencil guy. I still look for payphones." One person waiting on line said bluntly he uses a Mac and was also just there to score some passes to see Wambach.

Well, at least someone was there who has an interest in Windows 10. It turns out Jimmy Solis is a local consultant in the New York City suburbs to small businesses, mostly with 10 to 20 employees. Solis said he's a Windows Insider and has been testing the Windows Technical Preview since it was released in early October, and he's impressed with the final build.

"It's good -- it's going to be like the new Windows 7," Solis said. "It's user friendly, that's for sure. A lot of my clients have complained about Windows 8 but they've fixed all of its bugs." By bugs he was referring to the design of the operating system. Like any IT consultant, Solis said he's going to wait for the first set of patches before recommending any of his clients upgrade to Windows 10.

Scott Goeke, the store manager at the Roosevelt Field location, took about 20 minutes to talk just before the store opened and said he wasn't dismayed when I told him that the crowd was primarily there to see Wambach and not Windows 10. "I'm fully expecting a great kickoff and think it will escalate this weekend," Goeke said. "People have been coming in for months asking about Windows 10."

Many customers had already dropped off their PCs to have the store take care of the free upgrade for them, according to Goeke. The store is offering free installation for those who can't or don't want to go through the process of the download.

While I didn't expect to discover people had camped out for the release, I was surprised to see fewer people waiting there in advance than the crowd that showed up a year ago to celebrate the grand opening of that store. It appears a free Demi Lovato concert on a weekend is a bigger draw than a weekday meet-and greet with Wambach.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 07/29/2015 at 11:53 AM


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