Bill Gates Rocks Out with Slash at CES

    January 7, 2008

Bill Gates talked about how this was his last CES keynote, and his last year at Microsoft.

For the first time since he was 17, he won’t be a Microsoft employee. He showed a video package of how his last day might go, working out with Matthew McConaughey, producing an album with Jay-Z, asking Hillary Clinton if he can be her Vice President, asking Bono if he can be the new guitarist for U2, with Brian Williams reporting around the video (Brian said Bill doesn’t believe in paying more than seven dollars for a haircut). Later in the evening, during an Olympics-related video, Bob Costas told Gates to “lose my number”.

Bill mentioned the cloud and services. Will he FINALLY talk about What Ray Ozzie is doing? We can only wish, maybe at CES 2009.

Bill has decided that in his last keynote, he won’t fix the problems of previous keynotes, but instead, once again, focus almost entirely on “vision” and possibilities for the future. He spends a lot of time talking about connected applications and devices, but nothing specific. At least the super-wide-wraparound-screen for his PowerPoints is cool.

Says 100 million people are using Windows Vista, 420 million Windows Live, and 20 million on Windows Mobile, 10 million added in the last year.

Mika Krammer, direct of Windows product management, gets up to talk about Windows. She shows off Windows Live Calendar, Windows Live Events, Windows Live Photo Gallery, all the while subtly using IE7’s Quick Tabs, Windows Vista’s Flip 3D. She creates, live, a panoramic photo in Photo Gallery and uploads it to Live Spaces. These are great features and great integration that roughly 1% of users are aware of. She shows off the live video thumbnails in Windows Live Search.

Mika picks up an HTC Touch and shows off how to send a photo from a mobile device to a Live Space.

Bill is playing around with a Surface computer.

Bill is announcing a new partner for Silverlight: NBC’s coverage of the 2008 Olympics. They will make available video of the events, live and on demand, courtesy of Silverlight.

Robbie Bach comes out. We don’t see him enough! Robbie talks Xbox, mentions 17.7 million consoles shipped, 10 million Xbox Live members, and new partners for Xbox Live: Disney and ABC, bringing shows like Lost and High School Musical, plus MGM for movies, bringin movies like Terminator and Legally Blonde.

Next, he talks Media Center and Media Center Extenders, says Samsung and HP will be announcing today new Extenders, including HP’s Extender TVs. Also, Mediaroom, Microsoft’s IPTV service, which now has 1 million TVs subscribed. He announces DVR Anywhere, which will let you stream shows you record to watch anywhere else, and special applications linked to specific channels that will surround channels like CNN with detailed interactive information. Also, British Telecom will be the first to bring Mediaroom integration with the Xbox 360 as a set-top box.

Next topic is Zune, which is finally being sold outside the U.S., starting this Spring in Canada. Out comes Molly O’Donnel to explain Zune Social. She mentions how Zune Social is becoming a well-used social network, with 1.5 million beta users, and user-created applications for sharing with Facebook.

They bring out a Lincoln car to show off Ford Sync, which is now winding up in a million cards. They also show off a TellMe application on a cellphone. It accesses GPS to see where you are, and then shows a list of movie theatres in the immediate area, when you say just the word “movies”. Then you can say “Buy two tickets for Sweeney Todd at 9:30″ and it’ll actually work.

Bill comes out and shows off a device that can look at people and buildings and actually recognize them. This is extremely impressive, recognizing Robbie Bach, different Vegas buildings, and does some really cool animations. They’re talking about some unnamed device that categorizes videos for you, something phone related. It’s not all clear, because Microsoft just doesn’t do keynotes as well as Apple, but it does look cool.

At the end, Bill and Robbie faced off against each other in Guitar Hero III. Or rather, they would have, if Robbie hadn’t brought out Kelly Law-Yone, Guitar Hero champion, as a ringer. Not to be outdone, or outspent, Bill brought out his ringer: Slash, lead guitarist of Guns N’ Roses. Nice ending, though it felt like the keynote was just a little too short and didn’t reveal anything.