I've been watching the Bill Gates keynote from CES. He declared that next year will be his last CES keynote, as he devotes his time to his foundation, unless the CES powers that be want a speech about eliminating infectious diseases from the planet. At the top of his keynote Gates talked about the "digital decade," noting that the "connected experience," where people want to do things across multiple devices and with many other people, is missing in action. "Delivering on connected experience is the key element that is missing and something that we all have to deliver on to take full advantage of the hardware and deliver on the promise," Gates said.
Then Gates gave the floor to Justin Hutchinson, group product manager for the Windows Client, who spent about a half an hour giving a tour of Vista. First he showed how Vista can search all the PCs on a home network. "Windows Vista is not about searching, it's about finding," Hutchinson declared.
Given it's CES, Microsoft's MediaCenter was front and center. SportsLounge, developed by Microsoft and FoxSports, offers the next-generation converged media experience for sports fanatics. It can even be set up to track fantasy teams and will update player stats and send alerts.
Hutchinson also demoed Windows Vista Ultimate, the high end version of the operating system, which includes extras such as DreamScene, which lets users have a video, rather than a still image, as their desktop background.
Gates came back to the stage and talked about new Windows hardware. "We are drawing on the strength of hardware partners who have bet on Vista," Gates said. One of the more interesting Vista PCs is the living room Sony Vaio TP1 (below).
In addition, Gates touted the forthcoming flood of media servers, highlighting the HP MediaSmart Server, which is due mid-year. For reasons cited as intellectual property protection, the HP Media SmartServer portion of the Webcast was blacked out. Gates said that the MediaSmart Server, based on the Windows Home Server software, would have automated backup, connectivity to all kinds of devices as well as remote connectivity and expandible, dynamic storage.
Gates talks about the home server in this interview (video here) with news.com's Ina Fried. AMD, Intel and Inventec are working on reference designs as a foundation for expanding the market. "It's a category that will explode in importance and have real emphasis on simplicity," Gates said.
Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices division talked about Microsoft's success with the Xbox 360, Xbox Live and the forthcoming mega-hit Halo 3. He also demonstrated Xbox Live and using the Xbox 360 to Windows Vista, including using the Xbox 360 controller. It is expected to roll out this summer, Bach said. He also talked about the XBox 360 and Media Center PC as vehicles for high-def streaming media content, and the company's IPTV software, which will run on an Xbox 360.
"Our ambition is to give you connected experiences 24-hours a day," Gates said, as he led into an announcement with Ford Motor Company of a fully integrated Microsoft auto software solution with the Ford cars, starting with a dozen models this year. Synch integrates devices like cell phones, music players and other devices and downloads contacts and other data, communicatingh via the car audio system, including a facilities for voice commands and for text to speech conversion for text message.