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Windows is Dead, Long Live Windows

April 8, 2014

My title is, of course, a reference to the proclamation, “The king is dead, long live the king!” (Itself a translation from the French, Le roi est mort, vive le roi!) In a few words, it grandly conveys the notion of continuity and stability. The moment a monarch dies, a new one takes his place. Both succinct and inspiring, the phrase is designed to remind the masses that there is nothing to fear, the empire is still here, so don’t reach for your pitchforks and torches just yet.

Le roi est mort, vive le roi! is a magnificent example of messaging and the art of public relations. It takes what may be a scary and confusing situation and reduces it to a simple and elegant, easy to remember phrase. It comes to mind now as Microsoft officially ends support for Windows XP today, more than 12 years after its release. That’s a good run for an operating system. If you are still using XP at home it really is time to move on. But have no fear; Windows XP is dead, but Windows is not. Windows 8 is the latest iteration, but I’ll admit to recently upgrading my mother to Windows 7 (from Vista) to minimize the learning curve. Newer or newest, my point remains the same; there is another Windows operating system out there for you. No reason to panic just because an older one is passing away.

2001-CNET_XP3

As I was one of the legion that helped usher in the Windows XP era, it seems only fitting that I add my voice to those saying goodbye. Windows XP was released to manufacturing (RTM) on August 24, 2001. I had a part in putting together the press event on the Redmond soccer fields to mark the occasion. A couple of months later in New York City I was leading the partner PR efforts at the launch party marking the public release. In between those two events was the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center buildings. As you can imagine, it was a trying and emotional time. I have to admit that our crisis planning did not include the possibility of such an unthinkable attack (regrettably, now any sizable public event must take this into consideration). As you might expect, the PR team considered cancelling the launch event. But the show went on. Regis Philbin hosted and joked with Bill Gates, sometimes awkwardly, essentially admitting at one point, “Frankly, I don’t understand this stuff…” and Mayor Guilanni made a special appearance to declare that New York was open for business.

Windows XP-03 - cropped

My strongest memories of the Windows XP launch event are more personal. I distributed free XP watches and umbrellas to Times Square vendors in the hours before the show, the idea being that they would in turn hawk the goods to passersby – creating street “buzz.” Giving away stuff is always fun. (I still have one of those umbrellas. Just today my daughter opened it for our April showers.) After the launch event, held at Times Square’s Marriott Marquis Theatre, the entire PR team went clubbing, guided by our NYC counterparts who knew the trendiest nightspots. Many hours later I was wandering Times Square in the dawn’s early light, searching for a bite to eat at 4:30 a.m. (I ended up having a very satisfying hamburger). Later that same day I walked over to the Windows sponsored Sting concert in Bryant Park. In an odd coincidence, Martha Stewart (yes, that Martha Stewart) wandered over, having just left a meeting in the area. Martha asked me what was going on. I don’t recall what exactly I said to her, but I hope it was something along the lines of, “Windows is dead. Long live Windows! So keep calm, and carry on!”

Windows XP-11

One Comment
  1. Stacey Hackett permalink

    Found it! Nice story and great pics.

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