May 28, 2007 1:29 pm

The Windows Vista Coach Tour

By / Senior Program Manager, Windows Insider Program

From January 16th – January 25th, 2007 we went up and down the East Coast United States on a custom wrapped Windows Vista Coach to talk to customers about Windows Vista and its features. Below are the entries I posted to The Hive during our time on the Windows Vista Coach.

Day 2 – Wednesday January 17th, 2007: 
I figured I’d start a thread on the Windows Vista Coach Tour here on The Hive to talk about our travels as we head out across the East Coast United States talking up Windows Vista. Myself, Nick White, and Terri Stratton are all on the bus – and we may be picking up a few folks are certain legs of the trip.

Yesterday, or Day 1, saw us head out of Nashville, TN toward Lexington, Kentucky where we stayed the night. We visited a local mall in Nashville before headng north. There, we chatted with some folks about Windows Vista and in particular – advancements coming for the UMPC and Tablet. We had a visitor who actually carries around a UMPC instead of a laptop or full-on Tablet. Very cool!

Today, we’ve crossed into Ohio. We just went through Cincinnati and now arriving in Columbus. We’re going to visit the Ohio State University Campus.

I will continue to post regular updates to this thread here on The Hive – like a Journal – instead of doing so on my own blog or elsewhere as it makes sense to do this as a forum topic. I’d like to talk to Hive members too who might be in the area of the Windows Vista Bus.

Will post more soon!

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I have my Acer Ferrari 5000 Laptop, Zune and Samsung Q1. My Q1 is running Vista too. The Bus is equipped with 3 24 or 27 inch LCD TV’s. Ryan Hoffman has hooked his Xbox 360 he brought so we can demonstrate Windows Media Center capability via the Xbox 360 as a extender. Nick has his Acer Ferrari 1000 and a new ASUS R1F Tablet PC. Terri has her many Tablets of course.

We’re demoing software running on Vista such as the New York Times Reader and Office 2007.

So far, the people we’ve talked to have been impressed with the Windows Shell (UI) changes making Windows easier to use including Flip 3D and Live Thumbnails in the Taskbar. Folks seem to like the new Start Menu as well. Folks also like Vista’s responsiveness.

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I am having a ball on the bus. I’m getting to meet new people eveyday that are interested in hearing what Windows Vista is all about as well as seen places I’ve never been before. However, I’d be lying if I said I don’t miss home 😉

I think we have a pretty good setup on the Bus. What would you categorize as “special” in regards to stuff to demo for Windows Vista?

Day 3 – Thursday January 18th, 2007:
This is indeed my very first time traveling through this part of the US. I’ve been to Washington DC before, Atlanta and Orlando but every place else is a new experience. A great experience at that so far 🙂

Unfortunately the internet access we have on the Bus is quite limited so doing a live webcam wouldn’t work out to well. With four people using the internet on the Bus, it consumes alot of bandwidth. Also, we tend to hit spots where internet kicks off. I think its using a 3G wireless service. Good idea though I agree!

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Great experience in Pittsburgh! On to Washington DC!

We just had a incredible experience here at a local Best Buy here in Pittsburgh. A ton of excited folks came to visit us. I’ve talked a ton about Windows Vista. This by far has been the best turn out. Some of the “Geek Squad” folks came to visit us. They are currently doing training on Windows Vista and were excited to see the Windows Vista Product Guides. They also liked our Acer Ferrari’s too.

Several topics covered today with visitors:

  • Windows Desktop Search
  • Windows Shell / UI changes from XP to Vista
  • Windows Photo Gallery
  • Windows Media Center
  • Reliability
  • Express Upgrade options today for buying a PC with Vista
  • Purchasing a PC now VS later
  • Launch
  • Why Ultimate?

The majority of the folks leaving the Bus after talking with us leave pretty excited which is pretty cool.

I’m feeling really good about the exprience today.

We’re on the move to Washington DC right now and should be there by tonight. Will post more later.

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I have not yet seen any signs with the traffic fines posted as of yet but I haven’t exactly been staring out the windows so I may have missed a few signs. A few toll booths though. Where I’m from (Portland, OR) we don’t have any toll booths – yet.

We’re still on our way toward Washington DC.

Day 4 – Friday January 19th, 2007:
My favorite “feature” in Windows Vista is the Windows Shell / UI. I say this because I find that the Shell and UI changes in Windows Vista have greatly improved the “ease-of-use” of Windows and allows users to be able to the simple things and do them fast. I mean you can simply open the Start Menu and do a pretty extensive search – that’s amazing. And search is everywhere so finding your “stuff” is so much more easier. And I absolutely love how Windows Explorer utilizes the “breadcrumb” feature for navigation. Everything is so much easier and I firmly believe this will make new users of Windows Vista very happy.

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Wow! We just went into Washington DC to take some shots of the Windows Vista Bus next to a few important locations. Very cool. Being in Washington DC is amazing. A ton of people are looking at us as we drive down the roads and we really hit alot of the deep center DC roads too.

Will post pics here in a few!

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Bob over at ActiveWin who visited us yesterday has posted pictures from his visit. Check them out.

Day 5 – Saturday January 20th, 2007:
We’ve had more home users than small business however we had some great small business visitors in Pittsburgh. Talking with them, and a few others, I’ve found that the neccessary hardware to run Windows Vista isn’t the biggest roadblock for small business. I’m finding two topics that jump out during our discussions: application compatibility and drivers. I think those two are looking to be the pushback for migrating to Windows Vista for small business.

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Last night we stopped at a Best Buy in Durham, North Carolina. Had two students from one of the three area Universities come by. Talking to students was the highlight for this stop. One of the students actually tested Windows Vista RC1 a few months ago. He tried going x64 but found device driver support for the x64 platform wasn’t too good. That was part of the discussion we had – and I told him my Ferrari 5000 was running x64. We also talked about the Tablet PC enhancements in Windows Vista as I demoed my Samsung Q1.

Today we’ve left Durham and heading into Charlotte, North Carolina right now. We’re going to make a few stops and then head over to Savannah, Georgia.

I’ve got some pics of Washington DC to post. Met up with Donavon West in DC. Donavon is AWESOME. He’s the great dude who’s made the Windows Vista Launch Countdown Gadget and Bus Tracker Gadget. Donavon has some coverage on LiveSide of meeting up with us.

On our way out of DC, we had some folks honk their car horn in support for us on the highway. They waved and gave us the thumbs up. Thought that was pretty cool. We’re getting a ton of folks driving by and seeing us on the highways and taking notice of “Windows Vista”. Our greatest exposure is simply driving down the highways and I never thought about how much reach we had. Pretty cool.

Got to run as we’re just about at our stop in Charlotte. Got to prep for doing demos.

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Just left Charlotte, North Carolina and crossed the state border into South Carolina on our way toward Florida.

I had some great discussions at our Charlotte stop. A gentleman came into the bus wanting to know more about Bitlocker. I was kind of surprised. Apparently he’s heavy into encryption and likes to keep his PC’s secure. Now mind you – this gentleman was not a small business owner or large corporation guy – he would be what I would consider a home power user.

I also talked with a couple who have 4 desktop computers and 4 laptops in their household all with varied hardware and ages. They recently bought laptops for their teenage daughters. Ryan discussed Parental Controls with them and apparently one of their daughters is heavy into photography so I went in-depth with Windows Photo Gallery. A bit of a surprise there was when the wife told me she is using Windows Live Mail desktop to read her email. That’s cool. I also told her Windows Mail is worth checking out if you’re not tied to a Windows Live Mail account.

We just dropped Ryan off at the airport as he needed to head back to New York early to catch school which starts Monday for him. Ryan has been awesome on this trip and I am extremely glad he tagged along.

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I’d like the point everyone to Ryan Hoffman’s Windows Vista Coach Tour wrap up. Ryan had to leave the tour early today to head back to school on Monday. Ryan has been a awesome piece to the Windows Vista Coach Tour. It was great having him onboard.

Day 6 – Sunday January 21st, 2007:
Today we headed out earlier than previous days to make our way into Savannah, Georgia to see the city. Wow. What a great place. So full of history. I absolutely love history. I hear Savannah has the title of being Americas’s “most haunted city”. Thought that was interesting.

We’re now heading South into Florida. Will be posting later once we get closer to our destination.

Day 9 – Wednesday January 24th, 2007:
That is the number one thing for me on this trip is meeting the diverse set of people that might be heading to the stores January 30th to get their copy of Windows Vista. We’ve had relatively minor interaction with folks who’ve come onboard the Bus with “incorrect perceptions”. Most of the people we’ve met on this trip want to know what this new operating system is about. There have been several who didn’t even know its coming!

Its been a few days since I last posted. Being on the road has taken its toll a bit… I’m pretty much toast right now in regards to feeling on top of things. I’m dead tired. Anyways, I’ve got enough rest to post my thoughts from the last few days of visiting with folks. These past few days have been our best!

I’ll post more in a bit. Right now we’re sitting in downtown Nashville.