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CES 2008 Keynote: Bill Gates' Last Hurrah
Microsoft’s chairman reminisces on the past, pokes fun at the present, and pushing streaming as part of the company’s future—including a partnership with NBC to deliver video of the 2008 Summer Olympics with Silverlight.
Mon., Jan. 6, by Tim Siglin

In fact, several of the Silverlight and Windows Live demonstrations—including video sharing, video scrubbing, and photo stitching into panoramic images—seemed to be mimics of products from Apple and Adobe, respectively, but to be touted as new types of products. The two exceptions were the Zune social sharing, which provided a nice tie-in to Facebook and other social networking sites, and the use of Surface, Microsoft’s multi-touch table computer, to demonstrate a Silverlight-based application that allowed Gates to customize his snowboard in real time.

Robbie Bach, President of the Entertainment & Devices Division at Microsoft, took the stage in the middle of the keynote to talk about Xbox as a Trojan horse: Bach, who spoke last year and promised to be back at next year’s CES event, mentioned that British Telecom has signed a deal to allow the Xbox to be used as a set-top box on BT’s data network. Bach also announced another content deal, saying that Disney and ABC content will be available on Xbox for download and viewing, and that MGM is providing its library of HD content on the Xbox as well.

Bach also talked briefly about Zune and some of the implications for sharing content between devices, but offered no demonstrations of content moving seamlessly between the portable media device, desktop, and living room set-top box (or Xbox, as would be Microsoft’s preference).

Finally, Gates took the stage to show off a device that combines live video capture with location recognition and 3D mapping. The device, which was not named, is anticipated to be integrated into a Windows Mobile device—the PDA-cell phone combination that Microsoft says it sold more of than Palm and the iPhone combined last year and hopes to double its sales this year – and can provide the user details on locations, people and other objects it views through a built-in video camera.

Gates then lauded the audience for the hard work and dedication it has provided in making the first "digital decade" a success and said he looks forward to seeing what the second decade brings, especially in education and healthcare, the two areas of technology he will focus on as he moves into a full-tie philanthropist role at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation upon his retirement from Microsoft.