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Monday, January 7, 2008

The lighter side of Bill Gates'

The lighter side of Bill Gates' keynote at CES
CNET's Scott Ard is covering the Bill Gates keynote at CES. We have a report with product announcements and other details, but check back here for live updates on the demos that work and don't, possible celebrity sightings and the humorous moments in Gates' speech, which could be his last at CES.

5:45 p.m.: We're inside a cavernous ballroom at the Venetian hotel with several hundred accredited journalists and bloggers, awaiting Bill Gates' scheduled appearance at 6:30 p.m. I would have simply described us all as "journalists," but the organizers of the show this year have issued press credentials labeled "Blogger" or "Press." In any case, this "Press" person will be imitating a blogger covering Gates' speech in real time.

6:30 p.m.: And we're off. But instead of Gates we're being treated to a promotional video from the CES. Lot's of happy shiny people looking at happy shiny gadgets.

Gary Shapiro, the head of the CEA, which produces CES, is addressing the several thousand attendee, playing up the list of keynote speeches and whatnot. He's got some kind of very large watch on his right wrist. Microsoft's SPOT?

6:40 p.m.: After a short video touting Microsoft products, Gates takes the stage--light blue sweater over a collared shirt and dark pants. He reminisces about his history at CES.

"The first digital decade has been fantasticall sucessful," he says. "Ten years ago i talked about the pieces that go into this."

"This is my last keynote," he tells the audience.

He begins by introducing a video about his time at Microsoft.

The video is about Gates' "last full day at Microsoft." Video shows Gates driving a Ford Focus with a briefcase on top around the Microsoft campus. One clip shows him in the gym doing incline press. "Am i ready to take my shirt off?," Gates asks a trainer. The trainer's response: "Not yet."

In another snippet, Gates plays a riff on Guitar Hero while talking with rock band U2's Bono over the phone. Bono says "we're full up in the band. All positions are filled. I can't just replace The Edge because you got a high score on Guitar Hero."

In search of yet another post-Microsoft job, Gates speaks with Hillary Clinton about "who would be your best running mate. He also makes calls to Al Gore and Barack Obama. Short answer: they aren't interested.

Finally, Gates turns out the lights in his office, picks up a cardboard box and heads to his Ford. Placing the box on top of the car, he starts it up, pulls away...and his box slides off the roof and crashes to the ground.

At the very end, NBC anchor Brian Williams laments that he won't be able to report on Gates any longer, a man he describes as too cheap to spend more than $7 billion for a haircut.

6:55 p.m.: Gates is back to more somber topics, discussing the future of computing--"high-definition experiences everywhere," "rich devices" that are "service connected" and "the power of natural user interface."

7 p.m.: Moving on to Vista, Gates says 100 million people are now using Vista. I didn't catch the words "happily" or "willfully," but 100 million it is. Meanwhile, he says 20 million people are using Windows Mobile. He introduces a Microsoft exec, Mika Krammer, to talk about and demonstrate Windows Live. Been there, so we'll rest for a bit.

7:10 p.m.: Gates is back and demonstrating what the company calls Surface PC, essentially a glass table that serves as a touch-sensitive computer. In his demo, Gates is standing over the table, designing a snowboard by sliding various logos around and adding bindings. "I think that's a good-looking snowboard, but before I decide to buy it I'd like to show it to some of my friends." So he uploads the image for sharing.

Gates also introduces a video about Microsoft's collaboration with NBC in broadcasting the 2008 Olympics. Bob Costas closes with another humorous dig at Gates' search for a new job after Microsoft: "Bill, one last thing, you have to stop calling me. There is simply no place for you on our Beijing telecast."

7:15 p.m.: Gates introduces Robbie Bach, head of the company's entertainment and devices division, to talk about some new partnerships with Disney, MGM and others. Details are in our news story here.

Bach appears to take a jab at Apple. In talking about the company's media products, such as DVR capabilities, he emphasizes that these are not "hobbies" for Microsoft. If you recall, earlier this year Steve Jobs described Apple TV as a "hobby" for the company.

7:32 p.m.: Gates is back with a device that can use face recognition to identify a person. or place. It correctly identifies Bach, with a notation "Owes me $20."

Gates notes that it's not a real shipping product, but something from the research labs. Bach looks at the brick-like device and quips, "you can tell that came from the labs. That's for sure."

Gates and Bach are talking about Gates' history at CES, when Bach suddenly challenges Gates to a dual on Guitar Hero. Bach says he needs to bring in a ringer and introduces Kelly Leone (spelling unsure because they are not displaying the names of guests on-screen). She rips into "Welcome to the Jungle," and Gates responds, "She's pretty good." Gates then introduces his own ringer: Slash.

Slash performs a bit of the same song, but with a real guitar. Killer. He then walks off stage to the left, while Gates exits to the right. The end of an era.

CES 2008: Bill Gates Keynote

Speech is about to start. Flash photography is apparently limited to the first 60 seconds of the keynote.

President and CEO Gary Shapiro of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) on stage to introduce CES. Says CES is the best four days of the year.

Here comes Microsoft chairman Bill Gates. He's given 10 keynotes, says Shapiro, who goes on to praise Gates and his acccomplishments. Shapiro now talking about how Gates, last year, talked about Microsoft's interconnectivity between their products.

Bill will be stepping down from his chairman duties in July, he'll still stay involved to some extent, as well as concentrate harder on his philanthropy efforts, says Shapiro.

Gates now on stage. Talking about advent of widespread PC and internet use, digital photography and music software. Says all media will be software driven.

Mentioning examples of progress with the web merging with TVs, like a news show where you see only what you're interested in, also talking about smart phones and handheld PCs.

This is only the beginning, he says.

Admits that this is his last keynote. He'll be moving from Microsoft, where he's worked since he's 17, to full-time work at his foundation.

Some montage with a techno version of "If you believe in magic" is playing underneath images of peole interacting with computers. Goes into shooting a video prophesizing about what Bill's last day will be like. Talking heads from Microsoft execs saying he'll be fine. Gates playing with action figures saying "never doubt the power of software." Bill is in a gym, working out...poorly. Falls off an exercise ball. "Big pimping I'm Bill G, big pimping you know me," says Bill into a microphone. Jay-Z cameo poking fun at the idea of making a comeback. Now jamming on a Guitar Hero guitar, calls U2's Bono, wants to get into U2 because he got a higher score in GH than Edge.

Speilberg and George Clooney making cameos now. Jon Stewart. This is bizarre.

Jon Stewart now making fun of Gates for running off-stage after a Daily Show interview. This is all tongue-in-cheek, Bill doesn't know what to do with himself after leaving Microsoft. Wow, Clinton, Obama, and Gore all made cameos. it's over. Roaring applause from the audience.

Gates moves on to talking about the second digital decade, which will be more user-centric. The applications will run on everything, bridge across platforms. Mapping services, friends lists, etc., that link work and business, says these applications exist in the "cloud."

High-def will be everywhere. Meeting room computer desk displays, projection services, everything will be HD. Whatever kind of application you're dealing with will have a very rich quality to it - high quality video and audio.

All these kinds of devices will be interconnected. Users will no longer have to bridge between devices, it will happen automatically. If you just pick up a device and log in, it'll be up and running right then, and information can be easily shared. It's important, says Gates, to have the system also work to filter information for you, in other words the devices would get to know you and your interests.

The third point (Bill mentions iPhone), is how you actually interface with these devices. Touch screens, speech, voice recognition, gestures, they're all working to create new experiences. Gates says we're just at the beginning of this age. Giving examples like home automation and altered retail experiences that can be affected by the interface changes over the next 10 years.

Next year PC sales should see double-digit growth. 100 million people using Vista at this point. Last year PC sales grew as well this past year. PCs are being used in new ways. Over 400 million people using Windows Live, 10 million with Windows Mobile which will be doubled over the next year.

Mika Krammer now on stage to talk about Windows Live ID. With a new Windows Live calendar, planning is made easier by overlaying others' calendars on top of yours to synchronize better. An invite service is built-in for events, showing how to access names to send invites and share photos.

Now manipulating a number of five photos showing different views of the same area, combines them with a function to create one continuous landscape. Searching vidoes that play when hovered over.

Talking about windows mobile. Mika gives the example of sending a photo she took in Vegas directly to her Live space. She leaves the stage. Gates is back.

He's now looking at a Microsoft Surface which uses a camera and special software to recognize gestures. He's flicking his arm across the surface and rotating the board, using finger to drag decals onto the board and preview them. Can use a color wheel to adjust colors and design schemes. Then signs his name, resizes it, pastes it onto the board. To share with friends he puts his phone on the screen which is recognized and he can then manipulate it through the screen. Surface works, says Gates, because it doesn't require you to learn anything new.

Mentions Silverlight tech, which he says is the run-time to let people create new experienses. Microsoft will partner with NBC as an exclusive online partner for the 2008 Olympics. Take footage from all the events and make it available live, on-demand, and let you choose which events you want to see. Will illustrate what kinds of advantages the merging of TV and the internet provide.

Bob Costas is on a video now, talking about the Beijing Olympics. Can apparently choose which specific athletes you want to watch.

Robbie Bach, president of entertainment devices division coming on stage. Talking about connected entertainment. First is gaming, says Windows gaming will continue to be strong. Praising Vista as a gaming platform. 17.7 million consoles shipped to date for Xbox 360. 3.5 billion dollars worth of business through November. Xbox Live is now over 10 million users.

People on Xbox Live enjoy TV and movies as well as games. ABC and Disney will be bringing TV shows to live. Lost, Grey's Anatomy, Hannah Montana, that sort of thing. MGM bringing its library of films to Live as well. Over 35 studios and networks supporting Live. Says it speaks to the power of digital distribution.

Moving on to Media Center. Talking extender technology. HP and Samsung will build extender tech, which connects TVs to the web. DVR Anywhere tech, lets you record to media room in one place and distribute it. Showtime, TNT, and CNN will also join up with Microsoft to provide for more interactive experiences. British Telecom will be the first provider for these kinds of experiences.

Zune has been doing well, says Bach, that it's becoming the "clear alternative" to the iPod. Zune to be sold in Canada in the coming year. Talking about Zune Social, which is in beta testing right now. Molly O'Donnell on stage to tour Zune Social. Have a Zune "card" in the center of the Social web page, which tracks most listened to artist, songs, and can be customized. This way friends can see what you're listening to. An application has been made by testers to post the card into their Facebook pages.

O'Donnell is saying Zune social is all about "people powered music discovery". Showing The Shins' Zune page, looks very much like a MySpace or Facebook page with a friends list, personal picture, etc. If you click on a song it brings you directly to a purchase page. Easy money!

Ford Sync is now the subject of discussion. Ford will ship 1 million Sync enabled cars by end of next year. There's a Lincoln on stage now. Bach gets in. Molly is in the driver's seat. Thousands of songs on Zune can sync with car, windows mobile phone contacts and numbers and such are synced with car. You hit a button on the steering wheel, say play "artist" and the song plays. Really grating-sounding robotic voice apparently chirps up to confirm selections. Auto-911 assist also a feature.

Phones outsell PCs by about 4:1. Bach says phones are very important to their future. Will sell 20 million phones this year on current pace. O'Donnell is back up on stage. Windows Mobile phone is used to automatically detect where you are (in this case vegas). O'Donnell says movies into the phone, it locates a list, says "Sweeny Todd" and buys tickets with voice commands, adds contacts in the phone to Bach and sends him message with all the ticket information. Bach checks his phone, checks his messages, sees the one from Molly, then for some reason decides to watch a Cloverfield trailer on his phone.

Bach wrapping it up now, says the main focus is to build community and create new business models.

Bill coming back on stage. Holding a device that's still under development. Points it at Bach, device recognizes him and brings up a note that Bach owes Gates money. Points it up at a theatre, information comes up with listing and it plays a unique advertisement. Points the viewer at a random part of the city to try and find a hotel he's going to, eventually zooms into the venue and shows reservation time. Gates says this type of device will be in your phone eventually, which can store all sorts of text, pictures, and various pieces of media.

Showing a clip of CES 2001 with The Rock on stage. CES 2005 with Conan jumping around on stage. Apparently the device is recording the current keynote as it's being given.

Oh snap. Bach just challenged Gates to Guitar Hero 3.

Kelly Law-Yone, a Guitar Hero champ, now onstage to rock out. Bill isn't playing yet. She played a little bit of Welcome to the Jungle. Bill brings out Slash from Velvet Revolver. He's playing Welcome to the Jungle on a real guitar. What is happening?

Slash is now soloing. Bach just said goodbye. Gates didn't say anything.

It's over...lights out.

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