A lacklustre opening keynote
In his 11th and supposedly final opening keynote speech at CES, Microsoft's Bill Gates focused on connected experiences and new user interfaces.
Many were predicting that Gates would use his last keynote as an opportunity to launch or indeed announce a selection of new products that would spark excitement from the watching media world. That however wasn't the case and throughout the lengthy keynote, very little was on hand to truly ignite our imagination.
Vista gets a brief mention
As is often the case with company speeches, Microsoft began by putting forward numbers to highlight its ongoing success. Touting over 100 million Windows Vista licenses sold globally, Gates stated that, "For more than 25 years, Windows has unlocked the power of personal computing".
Gates looked back at how PCs had evolved over the years since his first opening address at CES in 1994 and how penetration of mobile devices, digital music and digital photography had exceeded all expectations.
"The speed with which digital technology has become central to the way we work, learn and play has been amazing", said Gates. "But in many ways, we are at the very beginning of the transformation that software will enable. During the next digital decade, technology will make our lives richer, more connected, more productive and more fulfilling in profound and exciting ways."
Also on the software front, Gate's announced a partnership with NBC Universal to bring the 2008 Beijing Olympics to online viewers via Microsoft's Silverlight technology.
Natural user interfaces are the way forward
Making clear the expected transition from interaction with mouse and keyboard, Gates outlined Microsoft's ambition of natural user interfaces for the future and, once again, used the previously announced Microsoft Surface technology to demonstrate the power of touch-based interaction. Using a surface-powered table. Gates designed a snowboard for purchase and declared how effortless such software can be and that no experience is required to interact.
Later in the show, a new version of TellMe, Microsoft’s integrated voice-and-visual mobile service, was demonstrated to show how voice recognition still has a valuable part to play. Similarly, Microsoft's deal with Ford to bring its Sync technology to the car market was shown by some very simplistic voice recognition work in an in-car demonstration.