The event, part of an estimated $1 billion in ad, marketing and co-op spending globally, took place at a Times Square hotel, where a gospel choir sang the national anthem.
Regis Philbin, host of ABC's Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, was tutored by Mr. Gates and a Windows team member on the activities Windows XP makes possible, including digital music, file sharing, real-time text- and video/voice-based communication, digital video editing and photography and creating wireless network at home and at work.
Mr. Gates then
Former New York Mayor Ed Koch lent a humorous touch while at the Starbucks. Sitting next to Mr. Gates, Mr. Koch quipped of Starbucks' wireless access: "It's so fast I was surfing before I was sipping."
Dick Clark turned up in a cameo at Virgin. When Mr. Gates called him Casey Kasem, Mr. Clark replied, "Bill, you put the 'square' in Times Square," much to the audience's delight.
The XP kickoff marks Microsoft's first operating system upgrade since Windows 95 six years ago, effectively ending the MS-DOS era of computing. Mr. Gates joked about the end of blue screens, a sign of frequent crashing.
Microsoft sponsored a concert by Sting in nearby Bryant Park following the launch.