It\u2019s less than 12 hours and counting down toward the consumer launch of Microsoft\u2019s new Vista operating system and Office 2007 for customers in Asia.The first retail copies of the new operating system are expected to be sold in New Zealand as the clock turns midnight Monday night. All Blacks rugby star Daniel Carter will be at the head of the queue at Dick Smith Electronics PowerHouse in Auckland to buy the first computer loaded with Vista and the 2007 Microsoft Office system.In buying the Hewlett-Packard laptop, he will become the first person in the world to purchase a Vista-loaded computer, according to Microsoft. Such a claim is impossible to verify, but whether it turns out to be true or not, a charity is set to benefit from the stunt. Carter will autograph the laptop and put it up for sale on a New Zealand online auction site, TradeMe. The money raised will go to Cure Kids, a charity for children with life-threatening illnesses. It will be listed alongside 15 copies of Windows Vista Ultimate that carry Bill Gates\u2019 signature.In Australia, customers at the Harvey Norman store in Sydney\u2019s inner-city suburb of Alexandria also have a chance to grab a copy of Vista Ultimate signed by Bill Gates. The store will draw a winner at 11:59 p.m. Monday, and the software will be sold at midnight. The next 50 customers who purchase a copy of Vista or Office 2007 will get a C653 Kodak digital still camera, and the first 100 will get a Microsoft VX-1000 webcam.In Japan, electronics stores across the country will be open at midnight, including several in the electronics mecca of Akihabara. Local Microsoft executives will be on hand to assist with the launch of the new operating system.While consumers have had to wait until now to get Vista and Office 2007, that hasn\u2019t been the case for all customers. Corporate users on Microsoft\u2019s volume licensing program have had access to the new software since Nov. 30.\n\n-Martyn Williams, IDG News Service (Tokyo Bureau)(Chris Keall at PC World New Zealand and Darren Pauli at Computerworld Australia contributed to this report.)\n\nRelated Links:\n\nWindows Vista Holds Clues to Microsoft\u2019s Future\n\nMicrosoft Windows Vista: The OS Has LandedCheck out our CIO News Alerts and Tech Informer pages for more updated news coverage.