Microsoft at 2008 International CES

Bloggers and the press are out in force at CES in Las Vegas, tonite covering Bill Gates' keynote at CES 2008.  You can find several entries listed here.  Check out video coverage at Microsoft's CES site and on Microsoft PressPass.

[More on the keynote from MS.com: On Monday, Jan. 7, the transcript from the keynote address will be posted on PressPass, along with an online media kit.  Click here to subscribe to PressPass via RSS.  If you are in Vegas, Microsoft's booth is 7144 in the Central Hall of the LVCC.]

So far, it's just like being in Vegas, but with out the 24-hour flashing neon, long cab and restaurant lines, sleepy booth jockeys and uncomfortable hotels... and all from the comfort of my own home with free broadband access. 

And much quieter, too.

Our very own MSN Tech & Gadgets has a dedicated CES page along with the their spaces blog with posts from staff in Vegas (with the first photos of Playboy Bunnies, Hulk Hogan and tasers...;).  Engadget has great coverage on a CES-optimized page for their readers.  Daisuke Wakabayashi at Reuters covered the keynote as did Joseph Menn from the LA Times, and many blogger reports from CES here

[Added 010708: Here's a good summary of the keynote from first-time Gates keynote attendee  which also has CES product coverage.]

Todd Bishop of the Seattle PI newspaper has an active Microsoft blog and tonite provides an overview of one of the keynote items: partnerships with content providers "including one with NBC to put video of the upcoming Olympics [see below] in Beijing exclusively on Microsoft's MSN site." He also notes the deal with MGM Studios to offer movies on Xbox Live Video, as well as with ABC Television, the Disney Channel offering programming from their channels. 

Marc has a quick synopsis on his blog, and  | All about Microsoft | ZDNet.com thumbnailMary Jo Foley has a few points on Gates’ last CES keynote, which she said was 'Long on sales claims, short on futures...'  She also notes here that Microsoft has announced a new sales milestone for Windows Vista: 100 million retail copies sold...

"The company made the announcement via an article, which includes answers to reader questions by Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, published by the BBC on Sunday..."

Want to ask Bill a question?  You can pose your own questions to Mr. Gates, so to speak, as posted on tech-buzz: Billg invited readers (of the BBC News) "to send him questions about his life and career. This invitation has been extended to readers from all over the world, and the timing could not have been more apt. You can send him questions on his life and career here." The beeb will select some of the best questions and post the answers courtesy of Billg on their website and via television.

Also cool is the announcement that our Internet Protocol Television technology (IPTV) 'Mediaroom' is on more than a million set-top boxes worldwide. (As Bishop notes, IPTV technology delivers TV signals over phone lines.)  No mention of any new Xbox 360 hardware yet. 

C'mon... VUDU is listing their new XL for nearly a grand US (which is what, C$99 these days?;) and will debut their new Vudu XL movie vault that will hold "up to 500 full-length SD standard movies." (Thanks, betanews.)  Surely we'll see some more great announcements on the Media Center front when it comes to content and home theaters, right?

Now, back to the keynote: Todd Bishop also sat down and interviewed Billg just before the keynote where...

"Gates talked about the future of technology and discussed his plans as he prepares to go part time at the company later this year. He also defended Microsoft's year-old Windows Vista operating system from critics and credited Nintendo's Wii game console for its approachability -- saying he expects Microsoft to "match that and do better."

[Note: IMHO, "match that and do better" for starters should equal an Xbox 360 with a much quieter fan and disc drive than I have today in my black Xbox 360 Elite.  Another note: smaller and durable is also a good thing, too: to our boy's delight, we traveled over the winter break with a Wii in my laptop carry-on bag, which included a laptop as well, power supply in the checked bag.]

At this year’s keynote, Ian Dixon posted here that Billg and Robbie Bach from E&D covered Vista customers (over 100 million served), Window Live bits, Surface, Silverlight, Xbox Live and Mediaroom (IPTV), Samsung's new Media Center Extender and how in the UK customers will find the "the Xbox 360 as a IPTV client." Add to that the numbers game: 10 million members strong on Xbox Live; 17.7 million Xbox 360 consoles sold so far (as x3sphere posted here); and 420 million Windows Live users worldwide. 

And another number: Gizmodo covers the 3,600 hours of the 2008 Olympic Games on MSN in Silverlight...

"Bill Gates (and Bob Costas) announced that NBC would broadcast 3,600 hours of games from the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics via MSN on the nbcolympics.com site. The video will be both live and on demand, with over 30 simultaneous live broadcasts. The cool thing is that finally, people who love ridiculous games like the hammer toss will get their fix, without upsetting the basketball fans who wouldn't dare allow for a pre-emption."

(Silverlight is a relatively small download: a whopping 2.6 MB which took less than a minute to install on my machine.)

Engadget thumbnailAs reported on Engadget, Zune will finally say 'eh' as it's soon to be launched in Canada: perhaps I can then find some more Nash the Slash and Jane Siberry on Zune, too.  I hope that they do this before the next general election or no later than Canada Day: friends up north shouldn't have to endure another Zuneless summer.

Todd Bishop also offers an edited transcript of the interview in his post -- good reading -- in addition to coverage of the keynote address here, as Gates came on stage with Slash, lately of of 'Guitar Hero III' fame...

"The night ended with Microsoft executive Robbie Bach challenging Gates to a "Guitar Hero" duel. After Bach brought out a "Guitar Hero" champion to stand in for him on the old Guns N' Roses tune "Welcome to the Jungle," Gates said he had a ringer, too: Slash, the former Guns N' Roses guitarist..."

Mary Jo also posted that...

"the only truly futuristic technology that Gates showed during his hour-plus CES appearance was a piece of visual-recognition software under development by Microsoft Research that, some day, may be integrated into cell phones and other devices...

"I was hoping Gates would pull a Steve Jobs and say at the very end of his remarks, “We have one more thing…” and show off Windows Live “Horizon” or a sneak peek of Windows Mobile 7, or the “Pink and Purple” project’s Zune phone, or — heck, even just a glimpse of “Fiji.”

Hey, Mary Jo... it's the early start to a long week.  Give it time. ;)

For our sons: Engadget provides a video look Guitar Wizard. Our kids are big on Guitar Hero on Xbox, and now the makers of the big hit at our house this Christmas --  I Can Play Guitar from Mattel -- have this new teaching tool showing at CES.  Add to this Max is in his first year of real guitar lessons and Music Wizard's Guitar Wizard looks like a great learning tool.  (More info here.)

More info:

Tags: Consumer Electronics Show, Bill Gates, Mary Jo Foley, Microsoft Corp., Gate, Microsoft Windows, CES 2008, Windows Live, Windows XP, Windows Mobile, Zune, Xbox, Xbox Live, Windows 7, Software, Consumer Electronics.