Windows Vista has launched in the UK with a special event at the British Library, where Bill Gates told the audience that the new OS is set to revolutionise PC use - and the way we play games.
First on stage was Gordon Frazer, managing director of Microsoft UK, who told the audience, "If there's a single word that sums up today, it's 'Wow'. We're looking at how Windows Vista and Microsoft Office 2007 will bring amazing and wonderful new experiences to your desktop."
Frazer then introduced Gates, who began his keynote speech by noting that it's been nearly 24 years since Microsoft released the first version of Windows. "At the time PCs were not very powerful - there were questions over whether a graphics interface was something that made sense at all," he observed.
"12 years later in 1995, we had a major milestone - that was the first time that Microsoft introduced a version of Windows and Office together... [Back then] when people thought about personal computers, they weren't thinking about music or photos or telephony or learning or online multiplayer games - they were simply thinking about creating and printing documents and a little bit of email.
"Now, in Windows Vista, we have the foundation to take things to a whole new level... It's about the digital workstyle and the digital lifestyle, and the number of things that will be revolutionised on top of the Windows Vista platform is quite large."
For example, Gates continued, Vista is set to change the way products such as music are bought and sold, and the way we access and watch TV. In addition, he said, it will allow users to "play games that are of a whole new level of realism and connecting up with other people around the world".
"Today is a big day, and it's really the start of something different," he told the audience.
"The strength of Windows has always been the eco system around it. As much as we love what's built into Windows, it's been the incredible hardware partners, the software partners, the solution partners.
"The real vision that we have is empowering the entire software industry - giving them the great tools, the information, and working together to create an environment that's very high volume, but to allow software to be sold at relatively low prices.
"We're unleashing people's creativity and we're excited about what can happen," Gates concluded.