CES 08 - Gates Keynote high on fun, low on fact

CES 08 - Gates Keynote high on fun, low on fact

Thousands of journalists (including myself) waited for the show to begin as Bill Gates did his eleventh and final CES Keynote.

Well, it's the start of the new year, and we know what that means - it's time once again for the annual Consumer Electronics Show out here in very windy and somewhat chilly Las Vegas. This year has started (as have many years past) with the de facto standard of industry vision - Bill Gates.

Gates (and a few of his friends) delivered the more than hour long spectacle in the main ballroom of the newly opened Pallazzo Hotel to a standing-room-only audience. He personally presented about a third of the show, with the balance being presented by Entertainment Division President Robbie Bach.

It's not really a surprise that Bill didn't do as much of the talking this year - as of June, 2008, he will step down from his role at Microsoft to pursue his Private Foundation charitable work. A decent portion of the event revolved around his leaving, including several celebrity appearances via a video of "Bill's last day."

Those present at the show can already see the overarching theme this year of "interoperability," and the Gates keynote brought this in with a bang. The bread and butter of Microsoft's presentation was regarding steps forward in tying together the Xbox 360, Windows Mobile and Windows Vista into streamlined, intuitive affairs.

However, all of the technology news discussed revolved around prior platforms. The big news of the day included NBC and Disney bringing their TV shows to Xbox Live Marketplace (remember the fallout with iTunes?), which brings the network up to having more than double the on-demand content of any cable or satellite provider worldwide.

Other discussion revolved around Microsoft Sync, the joint effort with Fiat in Europe and Ford in the USA to create a streamlined voice activation system for your personal devices in a car (MP3, mobile phone, GPS, etc.), as well as Microsoft Live and its MediaRoom IPTV service. NBC has also decided to use Microsoft's Silverlight technology for coverage of the Beijing Olympics, which will allow user-grouped coverage based on interest that is streamed directly to MediaRoom.

Zune Social was touched on brielfly, as were the Media Center Extender devices that will be showing up in Samsung and HP televisions and consumer devices near you this year. However, very little attention was truly paid to either - Zune was announced as finally being "a clear alternative to the iPod," and no information was provided about the MCE devices aside from "coming soon."

The Xbox 360 did have some pretty big news dropped (aside from the new content) - Microsoft is now in contract with British Telecom to distribute boxes (details of rent or purchase and price were unclear) for people signing up for broadband as part of the competition against satellite companies.

However, none of this really provided enough substance in my opinion for what we were all hoping for. Rumours of a 360 with built-in HD-DVD, nor any other new product, ever were validated or refuted. Everything revolved around the future success of prior products, without discussing much in the way of updates or revisions. Though Bill did demonstrate a couple great "development lab products," we can only speculate on when any of this will be (some of that was seen before, too).

Fortunately for us, though, at least Guns'n'Roses guitarist Slash and Guitar Hero champion Kelly "TipperQueen" Law-Yone delivered a pretty great send-off. It's a shame that they (and Bill's last-day video) were the only memorable moments.

Do you have a thought on the keynote? Let us hear whether this bodes feast, famine, or nothing at all in our forums


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Bauul 7th January 2008, 09:13 Quote
So the 'big news' was... it's even easier to buy a 360, and they've a couple of Disney films on XBox Marketplace now?
CardJoe 7th January 2008, 09:24 Quote
DXR_13KE 7th January 2008, 10:03 Quote
goodbye bill gates...
Tomm 7th January 2008, 11:10 Quote
Gates Keynote high on fun

I've heard it all now!
Redbeaver 7th January 2008, 14:17 Quote
ok, who the hell is Kelly 'Tipperqueen' and why would Slash wanna play with her??? a GuitarHero champion?? what????? i kno it takes skill to play that game (and it is a fun game), but theres no comparison to a real guitarist, especially Slash!

oh, just a little rant... oh well...
Tomm 7th January 2008, 14:59 Quote
So you're the guy that doesn't get invited to guitar hero parties 'cos you rant about how time would be better spent playing a 'real' instrument?

Although come to think of it, who the hell has guitar hero parties? :p
Veles 7th January 2008, 15:00 Quote
They're not saying they are

It's just for fun and publicity

I also have guitar hero parties, well parties where we play a lot of GH, because it's a lot of fun.
bahgger 7th January 2008, 15:39 Quote
I looked at the video after reading about the keynote on Engadget and was laughing throughout the entire thing. Wonderfully done, and its nice to know even billionaires have a sense of humour and can poke fun at themselves :) Alas, as you've pointed out, this leaves us all with a taste of fun but not much fact :/ Oh well!
Veles 7th January 2008, 16:37 Quote
Yeah I was expecting something much bigger than this, especially with all the speculation.
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