Live from the Windows Vista launch

[intro]We're at the British Library waiting for Bill Gates to take the stage and launch Windows Vista to consumers. Will there be any surprises?[/in

12.12 We're closing in on the end, and not before time. Vista looks pretty cool, but it's not until I take my review copy home that I'll really have an idea of what its like to use and - crucially - if it's a real match for my favourite operating system, Mac OS X.

12.11 And another gadget. "When you think of news, who do you think of?" asks Cynthia. BBC? Sky News? CNN? No, erm, ITN. Actually, this ITN gadget looks pretty cool, with video content as well as text headlines.

12.10 This gadgets presentation is getting rather laboured. We're onto betting with Betfair now. Journalists are quiety leaving the auditorium.  

12.05 Vista users can connect to Cloud Wi-Fi hotspots for free for a month. Which will almost justify the Ultimate edition's £400 pricetag. 

12.00 Now on to music gadgets - and in particularly Universal. The U Music gadget provides a flow of news, allows you to listen to tracks and also buy them. When maximised it takes over the entire screen, and doesn't really seem to offer much that Windows Media Player doesn't - except it does music news. But presumably only for Universal artists. On the plus side, it does allow you to watch music videos, which is a nice feature, especially as there's no credit card sign up.

11.50 Phew, we're off tasklists and on to sports, thanks to an IMG gadget. One of the nice things about Vista gadgets is that they're accessible in a sidebar on the screen rather than being a keystroke away as they are in the Mac OS, so you can be working on a document and still have the football scores open. And so, we're being shown an Arsenal gadget that has stories, pictures, videos, scores and more.11.44 Oh god, they're still talking about PlanPlus. Of all the things to show off, is time management software the one you'd choose first?  Those new Mac ads with Mitchell and Web are looking horribly spot on. OK, the guys are showing off how you can use a Wacom tabley will allow you to use handwriting recognition on Vista (if you have the Home Premium, Business or Ultimate edition). It's straight out of the old - and presumably defunct - Windows XP Tablet Edition software, and the recognition is excellent. But they're using it to make a task list. Which isn't exactly a new or unique feature.11.33 Trying to find an analogy for Gadgets, Microsoft struck upon Radar O'Reilly from M*A*S*H. Personally, I would have said Google Gadgets would have been a better analogy. Not that I'd want to pour cold water on Microsoft's claims to be innovative. Anyway, the first exciting gadget on the agenda is a Time Management gadget from Franklin Covey that brings information from PlanPlus straight to your desktop. I'm afraid I have no idea what this means.  11.32 The last part of the presentation is looking at applications and gadgets for Vista, because apparently Vista is "all about the user" (presumably previous versions of Windows were all about Microsoft). 11.31 Vista users can win money-can't-buy 'Wow!' prizes, like having McFly come and play in your living room(!). How do you win? By exploring the  new features of Vista, of course. Memo to self: don't explore the features relating to McFly.  11,30 The demo looked pretty good, not least because it wasn't beset by those wanring  bubbles, messages and annoyances that make using Windows XP such a pain to use.11.30 Another new Office feature is One Note, which allows you to capture images, clip parts of other documents, write using a handwriting recognition and set reminders and tasks that sync with Outlook. 11.25 The new Office has been around on beta for a while, and the biggest change is the 'ribbon' menu bar that makes it easier to get to the tools you want - like picture editing tools when you import an image.  11.23 The live search features of Vista are a huge improvement over XP, much more akin to MacOS's spotlight. Particularly cool is the ability to get live previews of documents without opening applications - so you can read the content. The business and ultimate versions of Vista allow you to restore previous versions of documents in case you've had what David Weeks calls 'An 'oh no' moment'.  11.21 Windows Meida Player 11 is an impressive bit of software - I have played with it, and it's up there with iTunes (particularly as iTunes 7.0 is distressingly slow). The MP3 player. sync is apprently quicker and more seamless. Let's hope so 11.20 The security features of Vista automatically spots malware - although it's not clear for how long. A world of hackers is poised to strike. How long will it be? Anyway, David now shows off the animated desktop backgrounds, which have to be the most pointless feature of Vista. I can't see why people would want moviing images behind their windows when they're using a PC?  Mind you, I can't understand why kids play music through a mobile's internal speakers, but it still happens.11.15 Now we’re looking at parental controls, which allows you to set the amount of time children spend on a PC, what websites they can visit, applications and games they can uses. It also produces a log of their usage. Useful for parents, sure, although it leaves a slightly nasty taste in the mouth. Could it be abused? 11.13 David flips through applications using the Flip3D feature to choose a window, and then shows how icons can zoom in and out - something you've been able to do with a Mac for a while, but a new and useful feature in windows. The new built-in photo application looks similar to Apple's iPhoto, with star ratings, keyword seach and online print ordering. You can burn photo DVDs, creating animated menus using a range of themes, and add music.11.10 Microsoft's UK marketing guru David Weeks is up on stage to demo Vista. He's starting off with the Media Center interface, using the the touchscreen HP all-in-one PC. He's showing how you can record TV using the TV guide or search. The new Media Center front end (built into the Home Premium and Ultimate editions of Vista) looks very good and easy to use.11.05 The audience is treated to an acoustic rendition of The Feeling's first hit, possibly called 'na na na na na na'. 21 seconds of applause later, and Cynthia is telling us that the song was included in the launch because Vista is "about what people experience". i'm confused. 11.00 We're now seeing a video with UK popsters The Feeling talking about how technology has changed the way they listen to and make music. Apparently they have a myspace site. How very now. And apparently the playlist is a 'new way of listening to music'. Clearly the Feeling don't remember mix tapes. They're only young.10.55 Now Cynthia Crossley from Microsoft is on stage - but only briefly due to a 'time compression moment' (a concept that is the biggest 'Wow!' of this event so far). She's talking about how the PC is taking over - 'Generation Y spends more time on the PC than watching TV.' And apparently over-40 women spend the most time online gaming. Which explains why Second Life is so popular despite the fact I've never met anyone who admits to playing it.10.50 The British Library is currently working with Microsoft to digitise millions of pages of books from the nineteenth century. I'm not altogether sure what this has to do with Vista.10.45 We're now seeing a video of the Vista-powered version of Turning The Pages 2.0. And they've used Bill Gates's own treasure, a notebook of Leonardo Da Vinci's work. "He personally worked out science on his own," says Gates. So Bill's notebook - Codex Leicester - and the British Library's Codex Arundel have been reunited at the British Library website. "These notebooks have been scattered around the world. Bringing them together is very useful and will hopefully inspire students to think of science as something they can understand."10.40am We now have the CEO of the British Library on stage with Bill Gates. "One of our great slogans has been 'information at your fingertips'," ssys Gates. But how do you let people get to things they want? Since about 1997 British Library has been putting old books online using a 'Turning the Pages' in-browser software - Vista is going to make it much easier because it uses the 'windows presentation foundation', which uses graphics processing originally intended for gaming, now usable by office applications. Graphics are clearly key to Windows Vista, allowing quick rendering and nifty 3D effects.10.35am Now there's talk about Gadgets, which are the Windows equivalents of Dashboard Widgets in the MacOS, or Google Desktop Gadgets on Windows.  Appreantly Vista will features UK-specific gadgets delivering live information about football, gambling and music. Makes you feel warm inside. 10.30am The new Windows is about ease of use, security (including parental contols - which has an activity log which Bill Gates says "makes me feel great". Hmmm), collaboration and entertainment (with better photo and movie software). The new Office has more of a 'visual, immediate interface' to create '21st-century documents'/10.25am Vista - and the new Office - is about 'Wow!', we're told. And the first wow: Bill Gates is on stage talking about the development of Windows. Wow. He's talking about TCP/IP stacks.  10.15am Like Vista itself, the launch event is running late. But at least it's only 15 minutes. We're now being treated to a video that shows how safe and eyeball-friendly the new operating system is.We've already seen countless beta releases and corporate deployment of Windows Vista, but today sees the consumer launch.Are there any secrets left uncovered? Any new features that haven't been announced? And what does the 'Digital Reunification of the Leonardo Codices' section of Bill Gates keynote contain? We're at the British Library to find out.