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Microsoft Kicks Off High-Flying Vista Promotion

Solve The Puzzle... Win A Ride Into Space!

Leave it to the gang at Microsoft to kick off a truly stellar marketing program for the upcoming launch of its new Vista operating system.

In partnership with chip maker Advanced Micro Devices, the computer giant has launched an online puzzle game with one heck of a grand prize: a rocket ride into space.

The game (that will soon monopolize every waking moment of the ANN staff's spare time... and we thought Flight Simulator X was cool -- Ed.) is called Vanishing Point, described by Microsoft as a "large-scale online and offline collaborative puzzle game." It went online this week, and challenges players to figure out puzzles from "spectacular events at various locations" throughout the world.

Breitbart.com reports the companies launched Vanishing Point at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, NV Monday. Other prizes include Xbox 360 gaming consoles, Vista-based computers, and Zune MP3 players.

But none of those prizes compares to the ultimate prize -- a ride into suborbital space onboard RocketPlane Limited's upcoming Learjet-derived chariot. The flight will be piloted by former NASA astronaut John Herrington.

Given the stakes involved, Vanishing Point promises to be a just a bit more difficult than your average game of Bejeweled (a video teaser of the game promises "Most of you won't figure this out.")

Already, players have established online forums and wiki pages devoted to solving the game's puzzles, which have a definite "24"-esque feel.

If you want to give it a try, more information -- such as rules, clues, and a "count down" -- is provided at the FMI link below. We'll see you there!

FMI: www.vanishingpointgame.com, www.rocketplane.com

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