A shiny new OS deserves a shiny new box to sit in. Well, five of them -- one for each Vista version. Here's the story behind the new retail guise of Windows.
Pretty. Shiny. Curved. Oh, and black -- that's my precious Vista Ultimate box, my preciousss..!
Sorry, we had a bit of a Gollum moment there, casting our eyes over the new boxes for the new Windows. But we're better now.
And honestly, you've got to admit that these are way better than the bulky and mostly-empty cardboard boxes in which Windows XP was delivered to the world.
For a start, they're made of sturdier stuff -- plastic instead of cardboard. Less environmentally friendly, perhaps, but at least they don't contain dolphin meat.
The redesigned packaging is also a tad smaller -- closer to the size of a fancy presentation case for a special edition of your favourite DVD movie.
And unlike the earliest versions of XP, where both the Home and Profession editions were blue (the decision to daub XP Pro in green came later), each Vista version gets its own colour code.
|The blues brother: Vista Business is painted in a similar blue to XP Pro.
|Green is the colour of Vista Home: Home Basic is a soft white with light green highlights, compared to the darker and more solid green of Home Premium.
|Vista Home Premium
|Vista Ultimate: black with a touch of platinum (and price tag to match)
Office 2007 also scores the same redesigned packaging, with more subtle colours keyed to each edition.
But these catwalk-ready cases aren't just about looks alone. They're also meant to stop you throwing away the box and in the process, losing the Windows install disc and/or product key.
Losing your XP CD or product key is bad news. But it'll be hair-tearing time in Vista, because each DVD contains all versions of the OS (in both 32-bit and 64-bit flavours) and is your means of upgrading from one edition to a higher build -- such as stepping from Home Basic to Home Premium, or all the way to Ultimate.
According to Duncan McGilligan, Microsoft Australia's Consumer Marketing Manager for Windows, the new packaging is deliberately intended to be "a more durable housing for the media, one you're less inclined to throw away".
"One statistic we got from the States is that 28% of helpdesk calls are from people who have lost their media or product keys" McGilligan told APC.
"That's one of the reasons behind trying to build a more durable casing for the full package product. People are more inclined to keep it, therefore if they do want to upgrade later on they've got the disk and product key right there."
Just remember: with Vista you don't just open the box, you enter the experience…