Gates plans a server for every home

And talks up Windows Vista at CES in Vegas...
Written by Andy McCue, Contributor

And talks up Windows Vista at CES in Vegas...

Not content with his earlier goal for a PC on every desk and in every home, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates revealed plans for a Windows server for the home at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas on Sunday.

More than 40 million US households now have more than one PC and Gates said a server for the home is necessary to cope with the explosion in digital content created and stored by individuals and families.

Microsoft has been working with HP, which will release a MediaSmart Server running new Windows Home Server software in the second half of this year.

Windows HomeServer will be able to back up a family's photographs, music, videos and documents automatically and can be accessed remotely. Gates said there will be "no complexity" and that additional storage can just be plugged straight in.

He said: "You can get up to literally terabytes on this. We think it's a category that can explode in importance."

In a somewhat low-key speech, with no major new announcements, surprises or guest appearances, Gates revealed next year will probably be his last CES keynote appearance when he steps down from his day job at Microsoft to pursue his philanthropic ambitions.

With the consumer launch of Windows Vista at the end of this month - the business Vista launched back in November - Gates also showed off a few new features in the operating system.

One of these, called Windows DreamScene, allows users with the premium version of Vista to set videos as the background wallpaper on their computer instead of the current static picture.

Microsoft is also aiming to extend its reach to in-car computing and announced a new partnership with Ford for a voice-activated system for drivers to control their mobile phones, iPods and MP3 players and to have new text messages read out. The system, called Sync, is based on the Microsoft Auto platform and will feature initially in around a dozen of Ford's new cars.

Gates also hailed the "digital decade" and predicted speech- and touch-activated devices will be the next big things over the coming five years in an increasingly connected world.

He said: "The idea of connected experiences can go way beyond what we have got this year."

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