Thursday night, in conjunction with the worldwide release of Windows 7, yours truly hosted an official Windows 7 launch party. Far from being the joke that some have made it out to be, I thought it actually went off pretty smoothly.
About two weeks prior to the party, I received my official Windows 7 party pack, which included some host essentials: the signature edition copy of Windows 7, cocktail napkins, a puzzle inspired by the magical world-turtle wallpaper, an official Windows 7 deck o’ playing cards, a poster, some tote bags, and – honest to God – streamers and balloons. Now, I’m not knocking the stuff they sent (BTW, I’m honored that Microsoft invited me to host the event), but c’mon, the streamers were the bulk of the package! We have a Party City right down the street, guys. Maybe they were concerned that I wouldn’t be able to find official Microsoft colors so close to the launch date.
The HouseParty web site (an ironic move, considering Windows Live just axed their own event-planning service) also provided notes and (now infamous) videos to orient hosts, as well as tools invite and track guests. I invited a small group of close friends and neighbors to my house to commemorate the event. I didn’t just randomly generate blanket invitations for everyone in my Hotmail address book. Oh no, this was an exclusive guest list, pretty much limited to geeks who I knew would have nothing better to do on a Thursday night.
I kept asking myself whether it would be worse if (a) no one showed up or (b) only a couple of people showed up. I mean, if nobody’s there, then do I really have to acknowledge that it ever happened? Plus, I’d get all the party food to myself. Like high school all over again.
Actually I did invite quite a few people, but not surprisingly, many couldn’t make it. I wonder if they weren’t clear that it was an actual party, because one colleague said she was sorry that she couldn’t attend my “class” on Thursday night. Still, I think I fared better than Gizmodo contributor Adam Frucci did with his launch party, as no one ended up crying over the toilet. I don’t know whether it’s just difficult to generate a lot of genuine enthusiasm for an operating system, word got out about my infamous guacamole, or it was just a bit shortsighted to plan a party on a work evening. No matter, as my friends and neighbors Matt and Michelle, my friend Joshua from work, and my brother-from-another-mother Mike and his son, Sean, dropped by to help me ring in the new version of Windows. Ginny even hung around downstairs to entertain our guests, despite her original plans to barricade herself in the bedroom while the boys geeked out downstairs.
As such, it probably wasn’t as much of a learning opportunity as it otherwise could have been: Mike and Joshua are bigger nerds than I am, so we had all been using Windows 7 since the early beta days. Matt works as a graphics engineer for local TV station, so he primarily uses a Mac. Michelle is far from being a doe-eyed technology ingénue, but she seemed to be the most interested in learning about the new version of Windows and its media features. Plus, she brought some awesome homemade cookies, so you know, win.
The festivities got underway at 8 PM sharp. Ginny did a remarkable job turning our dining room into a buffet, and we had cued up some soft, jazzy party music on the Media Center in the living room. The puzzle waited in pieces on the kitchen counter, and the playing cards scattered themselves on the ottoman. I arranged the coupons and marketing slicks on the table in the foyer, right beside the tote bags. God help me, I even hung the poster and decorated our front porch.
I snapped some pictures of the guests as they arrived and a few more throughout the evening. Here’s a link to the album for your viewing pleasure:
Not wanting to seem too annoying, I set the camera aside and enjoyed talking with my friends. In true, former New Horizons instructor mode, I chucked the host notes and just decided to wing it. We talked a lot about our setups, and how we used technology. I showed off some basic features of Media Center, including the ability to watch recorded TV and movies, play music, and view pictures. Inevitably the conversation turned to Facebook, so we minimized the Media Center and did a little web surfing from the couch. We found Matt and Michelle’s spoof wedding video on YouTube, which I won’t link without their permission, but suffice it to say, it had awesome production values (it pays to work in TV, I suppose). Ginny and I bored the crowd with baby pictures and videos of Logan, both from Facebook and our own Media Center collection. Mike showed off his Asus netbook onto which he’d shoehorned a copy of Windows 7 Starter Edition, and Joshua talked about wiring up his new home office. 10-year-old Sean worked the puzzle and wolfed down some chicken nuggets before busting a Snack Pack; he tolerated us but looked pretty bored by the end of the evening.
We wrapped things up, and I thanked my guests for stopping by. As they left, I reminded them that they don’t have to wait for a new version of Windows just to drop by. I’m also planning to host a party every time there’s a service pack or a critical security update.