Vista Goes on Sale Tonight

Microsoft is ready to begin consumer sales of its new Vista operating system just after midnight tonight. The software giant is putting its considerable marketing might behind the long-awaited upgrade to Windows, with appearances being made by Chairman Bill Gates and CEO Steve Ballmer.

Gates says Vista reflects input from consumers who wanted a system that is easier to use.

Retailers Comp USA and Best Buy will be opening some stores early, using a tactic typically reserved for video-game consoles. The software can be purchased either alone to upgrade older computers, or comes included on new PCs.

The price for upgrade software begins at $99.

Microsoft began selling a version of Vista to business users at the end of November.