Vista's a big part of Microsoft's strategy

When Microsoft says Windows Vista is its most important product announcement in years, it isn't just feeding the hype machine.

The new operating system, to be made available to consumers Tuesday, will register a seismic impact on the software giant's bottom line and underscore Microsoft's future vision of computing for millions of consumers worldwide. Just ask Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates.

"Vista is the biggest thing for us in years," Gates said in a telephone interview this month. "It is at the core of everything we do."

Vista is the hub of Microsoft's unfolding "connected experiences" strategy, a treatise on how consumer-electronics gadgets - be they TVs, game consoles or music players - connect and their content is delivered to PCs and cell phones. The convergence of digital devices has dominated recent Gates speeches, including his keynote address at the massive Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this month.

On Monday, Microsoft has scheduled a daylong marketing blitz in New York for Vista amid a multimillion-dollar global TV and print campaign. Gates and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer are scheduled to attend

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