Microsoft took a three pronged approach to their booth this year. They decided to focus on Vista (again), Games for Windows, and Windows Mobile. Surprisingly, the Xbox 360 and Halo 3 were not highlighted in the least bit.
It actually surprised me to see Microsoft pushing Vista so hard, still. Compared to last year, before Vista was released, this years Vista display was even larger and more in your face. There were more kiosks, sofas, and lots of Vista logos on anything that could bare one. We know about Vista, though, so lets move on.
Game for Windows received a lot of attention with two walls being used to show off various Games for Windows games such as Gears of War and Age of Empires 3. Having played GoW on the 360, I was very impressed with the butter smooth frame rates of the Windows version. Im sure there was a very high end PC powering it, but it was beautiful to look at nonetheless. Age of Empires 3, though not a new release, also received a fair amount of attention for its eye catching graphics. Gears was the highlight, though, and for good reason.
Surprisingly, however, the smallest display actually seemed to be getting a large amount of the attention. On the very edge of their booth setup, Microsoft had two tables set up with various Windows Mobile 6 devices up and running. I got to see a Samsung Blackjack running WM6 reassuring me that they are at least close to releasing the darned thing, already. The devices that got the most attention, though, had to be the ones from HTC.
Both the HTC Touch and HTC Tytn II (/Kaiser/8925/Tilt) received a lot of attention from the crowd. The HTC Tytn II was the most impressive, though. The tilting screen was beautiful to look at and the keyboard was, as expected, roomy and responsive. The software felt snappy and was presented with just the right amount of eye candy. My only complaint with the Tytn II would be the touch screen. It seemed as though it wasnt as sensitive as it should have been, though being that hundreds of people had been pawing at it, it may simply have been a case of the display unit being slightly worn.
To be honest, overall, the Microsoft booth was unimpressive. Thats why I combined it all into one story. There was nothing presented that deserved much attention. Lets face it, when Windows Mobile is the most intriguing display, something isnt going right. My friend, bigbluepride35, who attended the show as my camera guy even took notice and said he hopes Apple sets up a booth next year so Microsoft has to actually try a bit to impress visitors. Walking away from the booth, I got the impression that Microsoft still feels the need to try to convince people to get Vista and that, perhaps, they arent too concerned with the Digital Life show. Two feelings Im sure the boys over at Redmond didnt want people to walk away with. Where was Halo 3? Where was the Xbox 360?