Windows Vista Tour

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Windows Vista – Day 9

Well, it’s over.  I guess that’s not really true.  Not only do we have the memories of the trip, but those who saw Windows Vista for the first time or found a feature they didn’t know was there will remember it for some time as welll.  They’ll talk to their friends and neighbors.  Those just driving by us on the highway will remember seeing the coach.  I wonder how many of them will see a Windows Vista commercial on TV and say “I remember seeing that on the side of a bus.”

I’ve met a lot of people and made a new friend.  The coach driver was an integral part of the trip.  He filled us in about areas we were covering.  The fact that Charlie is a geek just like us made the trip a lot more fun.  It was a great matchup to put him on our coach. 

We visited a lot of stores and other sites.  Over the past several days have seen kiosks and other displays spring up from Best Buy, MicroCenter, CompUSA and Circuit City.  We found that people from the least experienced to trainers all want to know more about Windows Vista.  We’ve had people who were still running Windows 2000 to those who have been running RTM through MSDN.  We’ve had college students to grandmothers to a great-grandfather.

A few came onboard just to see the bus, but they were honest about it.  Some came in with a chip on their shoulders about Microsoft.  I’d like to think that when they left, they felt a little differently.  I didn’t hear anyone say that after they saw the demos that they still didn’t want to upgrade, and most left eager to get a copy next week.  Some even bought computers on the spot so that they’d get the free upgrade as soon as they could.

What were the most often-asked questions?  The same as we’ve been hearing for months – what’s new in Windows Vista? Why should I upgrade ?  Another question we heard a lot – will by old programs run on Windows Vista?   

We’ve seen parts of the country we hadn’t seen before.  Most of the time we didn’t even see the scenery as we were buried in our notebooks.  When we stopped, it was usually in a parking lot.  It wasn’t a joy ride, but it was a fun ride.  I wouldn’t trade a minute of it.  Was it all work?  Of course not. 

We had several laughs along the way. Almost every place we stopped for dinner, Nick would get carded if he ordered a glass of wine.  The last 2 nights not only was he carded, but the waitresses each kept looking at the card, then Nick, then back to the card.

Brandon wasn’t drinking last night, but kiddingly asked the waitress if she would have carded him.  Her response was that yes, she would have carded him, but she thought that he was about 32.  So, that made him about 10 years older than Nick, rather than the other way around.  Suffice it to say that Brandon wasn’t happy about it, but we sure got a good laugh over it.

Other favorite moments –

  • Starting the tour.  The excitement was contagious.

  • Seeing my home town, even if it was only as we were driving by at 60 mph.

  • Seeing Ohio State University, then seeing the University of Florida – Florida won again.

  • Washington, DC - The buildings are beautiful, but it was sad seeing the barricades surrounding them.

  • Savannah – although we didn’t have time to do any demos, it’s a beautiful city and I’m looking forward to seeing it again.  The streets there beg for walking and lingering in the squares.

  • Meeting the crew and students in Alpharetta, Georgia.  They were so well-informed and enthusiastic.

  • Nashville!  Charlie took us on a tour around the music district before we parked for a get-together by the famous Tootsies Wild Orchid.  No, it’s not what it sounds like, but it is an historic landmark in Nashville where the likes of Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams and others have started their climbs to the top.  I enjoy country music, so seeing these places I’ve heard about for years meant a lot.

  • The camaraderie of those of us on the coach, including Charlie.  Nick, Brandon formed an even stronger bond here.  Ryan was a great help and his enthusiasm was contagious.

  • Of course, I’m looking forward to going home. I’ll only be there a day before I’m off to NYC, but I’m also looking forward to the Launch next week. 

Nashville -

Having a Lenovo X60 Tablet with me was great.  If you’ve been reading this site for any time, you know that I love slates.  The X41 was my  favorite convertible and the X60T has so much more.  It’s a great machine and I’d highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a great notebook that’s also a Tablet PC.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these articles.  If you came out to see the bus – thank you!  If any of this has whet your appetite to learn more about Windows Vista, be sure to visit and

As always, The Tablet PC will keep you updated with any news about Windows Vista and Tablet PCs.

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Windows Vista Coach Tour - Day 8

We made several stops today and had good turnout at each. The first stop was a training center outside of Atlanta. Although the stop was relatively short as students needed to be back in class, they came prepared with questions that we hope we answered well.  Once again, we had a full bus, and as one or two would leave, a couple more would come in.

Next, we stopped at a mall that had a MicroCenter.  Here again, the turnout was good, although they couldn't compete with the enthusiasm that we'd been met with at our first stop.  I grabbed a shot of the books available about Windows Vista, including one on which I did the technical edit.


The third stop was near a new Fry's.  We met a variety of people from store employees to computer novices.  It was after 5 when we finally pulled out to continue our drive towards Nashville.  Due to the lateness of the hour, we decided to stop in Chattanooga for the night.

We'll start out tomorrow morning for the final leg of this trip.  It feels as though it's over before it even began.  I think it was the fastest week plus that I've ever experienced.  I think my body has decided that it's on East Coast time in the mornings and West Coast time when we get off the bus, which transl. 

I want to post a quick apology to any of you who may have had some problems with this site over the past couple of days.  Apparently, the bus tracking gadget has some issues with IE6.  I've removed it so that all should be able to read about this great time I've had.  My Tablet PCs and I have made some new friends.  I'm very grateful to have had this opportunity.

Windows Vista Coach Tour – Day 7

Although today was a relatively short day as our days have been going, it was also one of our busiest.  Kacey, who has been following Windows Vista, the blog, the Windows Bus Gadget and other things related to the new operating system as well as Office, set up a meeting with several of his friends and co-workers at one of the buildings at the University of Florida.  We went for a few hours solid with people coming in as soon as someone would leave.  Unfortunately, the weather wasn't the most cooperative with some showers, so we did our best inside the coach.  The photos that I have were before lots of people showed up, and once they did, I didn't have time to grab more shots.

Interestingly, many of those attending are expecting a new Tablet shortly.  As they've decided on a Lenovo X60 Tablet, there was a good amount of interest in the one I'm using and lots more questions as to how I liked it. That was the easiest part!  There's no question that I love the X60 and I'm hoping my enthusiasm came through despite the fact that we were talking to so many people. 

After we finally closed the door, we headed off towards Atlanta where we're hoping to do a couple of demos on Tuesday in the surrounding area. 

It's hard to believe that the Consumer General Availability Launch is only a week away!  It's even harder to understand how quickly the past week has gone by.  We'll be finishing up the tour in Nashville on Wednesday. 

Windows Vista Coach Tour - Day 6

Started off from our hotel near Savannah and headed out to Florida. We left an hour earlier than planned and Charlie took us on a short tour of this beautiful old city.  It was early Sunday morning in the south and there was no traffic and few pedestrians. Those of you who watch the Food Network might recognize one of the photos, and some movie buffs will probably recognize another.

We weren't quite so lucky after we left. Due to traffic and construction, we were a bit late through Jacksonville and made a tough decision to keep heading South so we didn’t miss the crowd at Orlando. 

Since we couldn’t race the bus at Charlotte, we decided to try Daytona.  As soon as we got there, we knew that wasn’t going to happen as the parking lot was full.  The first attendant told us to head down towards the main seating, but then the second attendant didn’t even want to let us take a couple of quick photos. After Charlie, our most capable professional driver, pleaded with him, we were given two minutes.  Not enough time to do any demos, but we managed to grab a couple of photos.


Thinking that the Kennedy Space Center would be way to check out where the winner of the vanishing point game might start off, not to mention a big tourist attraction filled with people who might like to see Windows Vista in action, we drove the short distance there.  As we pulled in, we were met by a security guard who was most adamant that we park at the back of the lot.  As we’re a little too long to fit in the standard RV parking spots, Charlie parked us across a few spaces so as not to block traffic.  As we watched another security guard approach in his truck, we thought we’d need to move again.  He pulled in across the nose of the coach, so unless we were going to leave in reverse, we weren’t going anywhere. 

It was a very pleasant surprise to find out that he’d come over to find out more about Windows Vista.  As Brandon and Nick were giving demos, I was running around and getting a few photos of the area.

We couldn’t stay long as we still needed to get to Orlando. We went to the Downtown Disney attraction.  As we made our way back to where we were supposed to be after we got slightly off track, we noticed a car following us.  We weren’t sure whether to keep going or stop to see what he wanted, so we headed to the Disney area and parked. Turned out that our ‘stalker’ was a great guy who has been following our progress and decided to drive down from Gainesville to meet us.  Thanks, Kacey!  We were all talking Windows Vista until well after dark.

All I can say at this point is that it’s warm and toasty down here.  Quite the change from just a couple of days ago. 

Tomorrow, we're starting back towards our starting point with a visit to Gainesville.

It was a long night last night and morning came way too soon.  As I got off the elevator to go to my room, I was met with a lot of laughing, yelling and giggling.  Unfortunately, these sounds were just as loud inside my room as they were in the hall.  Since it was well past 11:00PM, I thought they’d settle down soon.  I was wrong.  After they continued for almost another half hour, I called the front desk – 10 minutes on hold.  I hung up the phone and went down to the front desk and asked that I be given a different room.  I finally managed to get to sleep well past midnight, knowing that we were leaving early this morning to head to Charlotte and hopefully to Savannah for the night.

This morning at breakfast we saw the reason for all the commotion as a group of about 12 girls in the 10-12 age range came down for breakfast.  They were much more subdued this morning – probably due to their lack of sleep.  J

We headed out to our first stop of the day – when in Charlotte, it's hard not to know that it's one of the first homes of Nascar.  We decided that it might be a good idea to stop at Lowes Motor Speedway to see if they’d let us race the bus!  Of course, that wasn’t the real reason, but hey, when in Rome…. 

After grabbing a few photos at the speedway, we headed down to a large mall in Pineville, NC, just outside of Charlotte. This time, the bus was so full that it was hard to turn around.

Next we went to drop Ryan Hoffman off at the airport. We’re going to miss having him with us.  He was a huge help in demonstrating all the features of Windows Vista.         

Leaving Charlotte, Charlie pointed the nose of the coach towards Columbia, SC, and then on to Savannah, GA for the night.  We’re still in the planning stage for Savannah, so stay tuned to the Windows Vista Tour Bus Gadget.

Windows Vista Coach Tour – Day 4

We had a bit warmer weather this morning – more like a jacket day than a heavy coat day, at least until the wind kicked up, the clouds rolled in and the temperature dropped.

We stopped just outside of Washington, DC for our first demos of the day.  As the day before, we had lots of people come onboard, including a general manager or two from the Best Buy chain.  Once of the highlights of the trip so far was driving into DC just to do a bit of sightseeing and have the bus seen by those doing the same thing.

At this point, I can’t say enough about our driver.  He dropped us off in a couple of different areas so that we could get photos of the coach by different landmarks, then circled around until we got the shots we needed. Anyone familiar with Washington (or any other large city) traffic will appreciate it.. 

I hadn’t been back to Washington, DC for several years, and seeing the changes around our monuments was a bit of a trip back to reality.  Barricades, fences and guards are now the norm rather than the exception.

It’s a beautiful city.  The Washington Monument towers over the city, the Capitol Building is beautifully designed, the White House is still impressive and the Pentagon is beyond measure. The Jefferson Memorial is breathtaking in its simple and elegant design. I think everyone really enjoyed this time.

After leaving Washington, we headed South to the Durham, NC area where we did an evening presentation.  We found the first store where there were kiosks available showing Windows Vista on an HP computer.  It had touch screen capabilities which really had me watching how folks were interacting with it.  Nick White, Product Manager for Windows Client, gave a Windows Vista presentation to a family who was playing with the machine, and soon had several store employees paying attention as well.  Since several of them hadn’t been trained yet on Windows Vista, watching someone give a concise and precise demo will help them know more about Windows Vista.

After a nice home-style meal, it was back to the hotel around 11 for a good night’s sleep before heading out in the morning to Charlotte and hopefully the Savannah area.

If you haven't been following the trip, be sure to read about our other visits below.

If you're in any of the areas we're visiting, please stop by!  To see where we're heading, get the Windows Sidebar Gadget.  We'd love to meet you!


Windows Vista Tour Day 3

Another day is history and this was the best so far! 

Almost as soon as the coach pulled into a Best Buy parking lot near Pittsburgh, the people starting coming over to see Windows Vista in action.

There were times when there was no more room on the bus as each presenter was showing off Windows Vista to two, three or more potential customers at once. What we thought would be a couple of hours stop turned into 4 ½ hours and they were still coming.  Even the manager of Best Buy’s computer department came out to get more information on Windows Vista.  You know that when something like that happens that it can only create even more interest!  It was a lot different than my experience at a Dell kiosk in a mall in Lexington.  The kiosk was sporting a large sign touting the free upgrade to Windows Vista with a purchase of a Dell computer installed with Windows XP Media Center Edition. I asked the sales clerk which version of Windows Vista they were offering.  His answer – “SP 1.”  Ummmm….. I hope that other sales staffs are briefed a lot better than that before the General Availability Launch!

Bob Stein, a Microsoft MVP who owns ActiveWin (a Microsoft Featured Community) came by and spent a few hours with us.  It was at his suggestion that we had stopped at this particular Best Buy. Since it was such a great call, we tried to talk him into coming on the bus with us to Washington, DC, but other commitments kept him from doing so. 

Snowflakes started flying so we decided it might be a good time to get back on the road and head towards Washington, DC.  We caught a view sights as we drove off, including one of the inclines that goes to the top of Mt. Washington.  As you can see, the rivers here are very close to flood stage.

We managed to avoid snow and ice on the roads, but it was definitely cold as you can see from this shot of what used to be water running off the rocks on the side of the road.

We’re now close to Dulles Airport in Virginia and looking forward to seeing our nation’s capital (and Capitol) tomorrow!

Windows Vista Bus Tour Day 2

We left Lexington amid warnings of ice and snow, but found dry roads and bright sunshine, although it was well below 20 degrees.  The rolling hills of Kentucky with the thoroughbred horse farms were beautiful.

As we headed North, we crossed the Mason-Dixon line in Florence, Kentucky.

We crossed the Ohio River, swollen, muddy and close to flood stage into Ohio.  I was born in the Cincinnati area, so it was a bit nostalgic.  Obviously things have changed considerably since I was back many years ago.  Passing through Mason and seeing King’s Island made me wish the weather were a bit warmer so that we could enjoy the amusement park.  The roller coaster looked amazing!

Our first official stop of the day was at Prime Outlet Malls in Jeffersonville, between Cincinnati and Columbus.  Immediate interest was evident.  There were folks ready to see us before we’d even opened the door. 


Next stop was Ohio State University in Columbus.  Although we’d hoped to go to the Student Union, narrow streets and sudden one-way only signs had our driver in a spot that was tough to get out of.  With a one-way (wrong direction for us) suddenly looming both in front of us and to the left, and a long line of cars behind us, he was forced to navigate onto a very narrow alley with a telephone pole on one side and a brick pillar on the other.  After several maneuvers, he got this big bus going in the right direction.  Glad it wasn’t one of us or we’d still be sitting there.  There are some times that a professional driver is the only way to go.  Great job, Charlie!

Anyone who's a longtime college football fan should remember the name on this street sign in front of the Buckeye's stadium.

The  lack of parking on campus was a definite deterrent, so we made our way out of town to Easton Mall.  After grabbing a late lunch, we headed off towards Pittsburgh.  Charlie made great time and we pulled into our hotel about 7:30pm, ready for dinner and a good night’s sleep.

Tomorrow, we’ll be meeting Bob Stein from in Pittsburgh.

Windows Vista Coach Tour Commences

And so it begins..  January 16, 2007

Catching a flight at 5:20 Monday morning wasn’t my idea of the best way to start a trip, but it’s been worth it!  I got to Nashville at a reasonable time, early evening Central time.  Others weren’t quite as lucky as flight delays seemed to be the norm in many parts of the country. Nick White, Brandon LeBlanc, Ryan Hoffman and I were excited to be starting off with the Microsoft Windows Vista Coach Tour that will be visiting several cities starting from Nashville, Lexington, Cincinnati, Columbus, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Richmond, Charlotte, Jacksonville, Orlando, Gainesville, Atlanta and ending up back in Nashville.

After landing in Nashville, I was relieved to be here, but the bag carrying some of the necessities of any trip (power cords, USB keys, speakers, DVD player and other odds and ends) decided to head to Denver for the night, then go to Memphis before showing up in Nashville about 18 hours late.  I wasn’t the only one to arrive without all the luggage that had been checked-in.  Ryan Hoffman ended up here with no bags.  I at least had clothes, just no extra power for my computer or cell. 

Our bags arrived on different airlines late this morning, intact.  Shortly thereafter, the coach arrived and we were ready to start our tour. 

Being on the Windows Vista Coach Tour is an opportunity I wouldn’t want to miss, no matter what the minor problems!

The outside looks great with the Windows Vista background and logo; the inside is sleek, sophisticated and comfortable.  It will certainly make an impression on those who see it. (See photos below)

As we were getting some provisions for the trip, we had our first visitor. A couple were loading their van and asked us if we were going to be doing any demos.  We invited them in and Ryan, Nick and Brandon fielded questions and showed off some of Windows Vista’s capabilities.  Just goes to show that there’s a lot of interest in Windows Vista.

We’ll be spending the night in Lexington, our first stop on the tour.  We headed to Fayette Mall and again had a couple of visitors who were very interested in seeing what was going on.  One of our visitors was a name that should be familiar to those of you who have been following Tablet PCs for some time or have been to any of the Windows XP Tablet PC chats.  MiniMage stopped by.  It was great meeting her and putting a face to a name I’ve seen for a couple of years now.  As she’s been on the beta for Windows Vista, she was quite familiar with it, but it was great to talk with someone else who cares as much about Tablets as I do.

Tomorrow we’ll be heading north through Cincinnati and Columbus, then turning east towards Pittsburgh.  If you happen to be in the area, watch for us! 

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