Microsoft hones its Vista holiday pitch

This year will mark the first time that Microsoft and its partners will have a chance to make their pitch for why Vista PCs should be on your holiday gift lists.

To kick things off, Microsoft is holding a Windows Vista holiday-preview event this week in New York, aimed primarily at the consumer press (folks like Vogue, GQ, Cosmo, etc.) Windows officials are here to show off how far Vista has come in the year since the product was released to manufacturing.

Microsoft rented out a loft overlooking the Hudson to act as a temporary showroom. Rather than trying to demonstrate the whole “connected entertainment” scenario, Microsoft’s gone the stripped-down route this time around. There are no Windows Mobile phones, no Windows Home Server systems, no Xboxes and no Zunes to be seen.

(There also was no one, thankfully, reciting the “100 Reasons Why Everyone Is So Speechless.” The holiday showcase is minimalist. It’s all about Vista — and gourmet snacks/drinks.)

For Microsoft watchers like me who cover every twist and turn in the Windows saga, there isn’t much (if anything) new. I’ve seen the new Vista laptops and notebooks from Sony, Dell, HP, Gateway and the various Windows Certified and I’ve checked out the various Games for Windows titles. And I’ve gotten demos of the latest Windows Live service add-ons for Vista, ranging from Windows Live Photo Gallery, to Windows Live Writer.

The fact that the Windows team is finally showing/talking about Windows Live is pretty amazing, though. Until now, the two product families might as well as been from different planets, instead of the same company.

Microsoft isn’t sharing any new tallies, as far as how many copies of Vista it has sold. (The official count remains at 60 million since the product launched.) The company is providing a few updated “momentum” data points, including:

* There are now 7,670 apps and devices from more than 900 partners that are either “Certified for Windows Vista” or that pass the “Works with Windows Vista” tests
* Of NPD’s list of 100 top-selling Windows apps by unit, 98 are compatible according to
* PCs (desktop and notebook) equipped with Window Vista OS options have increased in U.S. retail shelf presence from 77% in February 2007 to 92% in September 2007.
* There are over 41,000 hardware products are now supported on Window Update, up from 23,000 at launch


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