Bill Gates’ CES keynote will be webcast in about 2 1/2 hours, at 6:30 pm Pacific / 9:30 pm Eastern.
You can view it live:
9:43: Before bringing out Bill Gates, some guy tells us how great he is. Now, they’re showing a video package of Gates/Microsoft’s accomplishments.
9:45: Gates comes out, in an oversizedwhite, striped button down shirt. He discusses being named Time’s Person of the Year, and makes bad jokes.
9:46: Gates seems nervous. He isn’t a great speaker, but he’s usually more comfortable.
9:49: Gates is showing off some sort of vertical screen/panel. Its a touch screen with various widgets, like television feeds, news websites, the locations of various members of the house, and information widgets, like weather and the time of day. Gates drags items around with his hand.
9:51: Gates then heads over to a desk, where he has a wraparound triple display, and is hooked up with a Tablet PC, which acts as an additional screen. All concepts, not products they’re releasing or anything. How about showing us something we can buy?
9:54: Gates heads over to a table, drops his cell phone on a table, and the table recognizes his phone and brings up a screen, on its surface, allowing him to do certain tasks. He drops a business card on the table, which the table recognizes, and then imports into his phone. Again, all very cool, but I’m not hearing product names.
9:56: Starts getting to a point. He’s discussing how software can make non-computing activities much better. Behind him on the screen is a PC, the Treo and the Xbox 360.
9:58: Discussing buddy lists consistent from Xbox 360 to PC to everywhere else, with your presence announced to your friends. Friends would even know what you’re watching on TV, if you so choose.
10:03: Gates says advancements in Windows power all that he’s been discussing. Aaron Woodman, senior product manager comes out to discuss Vista. Shows off Glass and Live Previews. Live Previews have full motion video. Alt-Tab has Live Previews. Also: Flip 3D, which brings all windows into a 3D environment you can scroll through.
10:04: Shows off Sidebar, with a FOX Sports gadget. Then shows off a laptop with Sideshow. The external screen shows off his calendar, without even having to turn on the laptop.
10:05: Shows off Vista’s search functions, within the Start Menu, and within Explorer windows. Now: IE7. Shows off tabbed browsing with MSN Search. Opens up each useful search results in a new tab, then uses Quicktabs to view all results at once without clicking through each.
10:06: Shows off Vista’s parental controlls. Web restrictions, time limits, game ratings, its all in there. Parents can decide if children can play certain ESRB rated games, and ban others.
10:08: Moves onto gaming: Uses Microsoft Flight Simulator as an example, and unveils FS for Vista. Looks beautiful. Very detailed. Should come out in a little over a year.
10:11: Moves onto photos. Shows off Windows Photo Gallery, which displays at once hundreds of images (wow). Vista has native abilities to do minor photo editing. Within the operating system, you can do simple tasks, like cropping. Vista also always saves the original of a photo, so no matter what edits you make, you can get the original. Shows a slideshow, which now has nice transitions, the so-called Ken Burns transitions, and Windows Slideshow supports videos, so if a video is with the picture, it moves.
10:13: Shows how to navigate music in Windows Media Player in Vista. Beautiful way of going through album art, not text menus, which is much better. Shows that you can scroll through a 10,000 song library with no performance hit. And in Vista, all searching is instant, whether in the OS or in Media Player.
10:20: Van Toeffler from MTV is with Gates backstage to explain the new partnership. Says Bill Gates is the inspiration for the Napolean Dynamite movie. Talks about Urge, which will be programmed by viewers and viewer opinions and ratings. Aaron shows off Urge, which is a music service present within Windows Media Player. Will have hundreds of specially designed playlist and over 100 radio stations, as well as over a 2 million track library. It will be exclusively within Windows Media Player. Will include music blogs within the service, except that you can listen to any blogged songs right there in the blog. There will be channel hubs built around MTV properties like TRL, MTV Unplugged, VH1, CMT, and others. Auto-playlists will generate playlists based on anything you like, like a playlist based on a an artist with songs similar to that, like Justin Timberlake. And on that note, Justin Timberlake comes out.
10:22: Justin seems nervous. He talks about how Urge lets artists reach fans. Says his new album will have a duet with Gates. “Artistry… and technology…” Just kidding.
10:23: Gates talks tablet PCs, including one from Gateway, and says they will be a lot cheaper thanks to “a passive digitizer”. Vista will adjust to your handwriting style.
10:25: Talks Windows Mobile. Pulls out the Treo 700w. Says many operations have been optimized to work with a single click, and with one hand. Will go on sale tomorrow. Will connect with EV-DO.
10:27: Shows off other phones, including a home cordless from Phillips, which can now make VOIP calls through Windows Live Messenger, and shows the Messenger buddy list on the phone’s screen.
10:29: Talks TV. Talks relevant ads, which “you won’t want to skip over”.
10:34: Discusses Windows Media Center. MCE sold 5.5 million copies in 2005. Talks ViiV. Talks built-in 7.1 surround sound. Talks MCE partners. Talks DirecTV, which will have a 2Go service for portable devices, and video-on-demand with Sky.
10:37: Out comes Joe Belfiore, Corporate VP, who announced the Rose Bowl score before getting on to MCE. Shows off MCE Spotlight guides, showing the Comedy Central one, with different content while you watch the channel, kind of like navigating their website while watching, except its all integrated on one screen. You can view old clips and read news. There are 110 of the Spotlights now.
10:39: Shows off a mini-PC from Varitek (think Mac Mini) which has MCE, the remote receiver and the TV tuner built in. Also shows off Toshiba’s GigaBeat, which is a PMC device, showing off a movie from Starz Vongo, the new $9.99 video download subscription service.
10:41: Shows off an LG PMC, which is a blatant ripoff of the Sony PSP’s form factor.
10:47: Shows how Windows Live and Windows Live Messenger integrate with MCE. If you do a TV-related search, the Live page suggests shows. You can chat with a bot that will help you figure out if there’s anything good on TV.
10:48: Shows off HD-DVD, and says that HD-DVD has an interactivity layer that can let you browse scenes without leaving the player, or figure out the names of the other actors on screen and what movies they’ve been in, and all the content can be updated via the internet.
10:50: Says HD-DVD’s interactivity layer allows for video commentaries. You can have a floating head discussing the film, and the on-screen actor of director can point to interesting things with his hand and explain. You can also copy HD movies to your hard drive to protect the disk.
10:52: Shows off cable card for MCE. You just dump in the card, plug in the cable line, and get hi-def cable with MCE.
10:54: Shows off Windows Vista Media Center. Goes to the overlay UI. You see the MCE inteface over the live movie. That’s the whole interface, all the menus, with the full-screen film slightly opaque behind it. You can browse the music library by album art, with a very nice horizontal interface, but there are multiple ways of arranging, so you can choose whichever you like. You can browse music by year, which is convenient. All of Vista MCE will work on an Xbox 360.
10:55: Movie Library shows movies in a DVD player/changer and on the hard drive in a single place.
10:57: Out comes Peter Moore to discuss the Xbox 360. A video shows how many were desperate to get one. Shows celebrities discussing it. Dane Cook rules! Peter starts off with another Rose Bowl update. I’m starting to like that…
10:59: Says they will ship 4.5-5.5 million by June, and says there’s an attach rate of 4 games per console.
11:00: Says the third Xbox 360 factory will open next month, fixing all shortages. On Xbox, 10% were on Live; on 360 its over 50%.
11:03: Talks about the Xbox Live Marketplace and Xbox Live arcade, the latter of which may be a bigger hit than any of the games released so far.
110:04 Later this year, they will release an external HD-DVD drive for the Xbox 360. Xbox 360 is pushing HDTV sales.
11:09: Shows off EA’s Fight Night 3. Brings out Al Burnstein, a veteran boxing commentator. He will call the fight between Bill Gates (as Muhammed Ali) and a boisterous Steve Ballmer (as Joe Frazier). Ballmer: “C’mon Bill, 30 years I’ve been training for this opportunity!” Ballmer trash talks. Gates starts off fast, and keeps Ballmer down with fast Ali jabs. Ballmer comes back with powerful jabs, but Ali wears him down fast. Gates starts taunting, on-screen. Frazier starts powering back on Ali, but Ali starts pounding Frazier with massively powerful shots to the face. Gates’ Ali knocks out Ballmer’s Frazier in barely two minutes.
11:10: Peter Moore: “Don’t throw your controller at home”. The Fight Night 3 demo is on Live.
11:12: Gates begins wrapping it up, tying together all the things discussed. Says Microsoft is investing in security and privacy, in order to be more ambitious.
Thoughts: All in all, some really good stuff in there, a great Vista demo, great pushing of Media Center, and good 360 PR. The stuff at the beginning seemed unnecessary, showing concepts. Apple doesn’t do that, and their keynotes are among the undisputed best, so why does Microsoft? Nothing revolutionary or surprising, although the 360′s external HD-DVD drive is a bit strange. And Microsoft really needs to turn the Portable Media Center into a real platform, instead of showing off device after device with the same UI we saw over a year and a half ago.