Notes From a Senior Editor: Journalists Trampled In Mad Gates Frenzy, Public Generally PleasedJan 08, 2007, 22:45 (1 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Jame Turner)
One of These Things is Not Like the Others... Yes, it's the Juggler, He's Not a Clown
One other thing of note. Remember that mysterious "Digital Freedom" booth at the Innovations event? Well, a variety of slides along the theme of the one shown belong were running in heavy rotation during the preshow. It appears that CEA has decided to make the goal of keeping digital media unfettered a top priority for the year. Of course, the irony of running these slides just before a presentation on an operating system that is going to do more to lock down media with draconian DRM than any before it is sweet.
Finally, finally, the great moment arrived. After a brief trip down memory lane by the CEA President (it being the 40th anniversary of CES) Mr. Gates took the stage to describe how Microsoft is going to give us all "Connected Experiences." As the video that then ran seems to indicate, only pretty people below the age of 35 seem to require connectedness, perhaps the rest of us are to be rounded up agrave; la Logan's Run and zapped by lasers. Of course, this is a blind spot of the consumer electronics industry in general; someone might want to remind them about all those aging boomers.
After years of embarrassing technical glitches previewing cutting edge products, Microsoft seems to have found a way to prevent these kind of goods. Don't show any cutting edge products. That's right, nothing new of any substance was shown during the keynote. Instead, we got basically 60 minutes of Vista demoing. First, we got to see how you can apply canned Microsoft document styles using the new version of Word. Next, we were treated to a virtual flythrough of Las Vegas using the new Microsoft 3D Mapping Software, which looked suspiciously like Google Earth.
Um, Google Earth Got Demoed Last Year...
The next section of the presentation was Media Center again. "Look, we can view HD content. Look, we can watch HD video in a window inside Vista. Look, you can track your fantasy sports stars and be alerted when they make a play on a channel you have available (okay, that's a little cool, but hardly going to cure cancer...) In an effort to demonstrate that Vista is in fact being accepted by the hardware vendors, Bill then highlighted a series of PCs that took advantage of new Vista features. HP will have a PC with touch-screen technology, Toshiba has a laptop with the SideShow window on the back, Sony has a media PC that's... round, and Medion has a UMPC.
Vista, Vista Everywhere...
The next half hour or so can best be described as "Isn't Gaming and the X-Box 360 Cool." We saw a bunch of titles that will run on Vista, part of an effort to revive the PC as a gaming platform. Bill seemed particularly proud of the fact that Halo 2 will run on Vista, which is funny given that it's been out forever, and Halo 3 is due this year. We saw that the XBox 360 can run as an IPTV and view streaming content from Media PCs. And in a genuinely new announcement, the Windows Home Server from HP was unveiled. It's basically a big RAID box that's been made Windows-friendly, so that it can automatically back up all the content from all the PCs in the house, and make it available remotely. So just think, when someone breaks into your Windows box now, they can own all your private content... Of course, in keeping with the Cover-Thy-Ass theme of the evening, this new technology wasn't shown, we just got a commercial about it.
Announcing, but not showing...
The last announcement of the night is that Ford is teaming with Microsoft to integrate mobile devices like PDAs, cell phones, and media players directly into vehicle sound systems. Interestingly, Mark Fields of Ford explicitly mentioned the iPod as a supported device. Thankfully, the integration is limited to the stereo, which will also be able to read your mail and IMs using speech synthesis. I can't wait until the first time someone gets an erotic IM while transporting the kids to soccer practice.
Have You Rebooted a Ford... Lately?
Last year, Bill started out his presentation with a "House of the Future" demo, and the glitches he encountered set the theme for the rest of the presentation. This year, the gee-whiz content was moved to the end, when people were already bleary-eyed and less likely to notice problems. When Bill has to actually demo product without a prompter, he gets noticeably less slick. And essentially what he showed this year is what he showed last year, wouldn't it be neat if your digital world followed you around where ever you went? Yes, Bill, it would be very neat. It also seems to require that your entire digital world run Windows...
It's Time For Cooking With Bill: Today, Decimated Apples in Zune Sauce
After the keynote let out, I dragged my weary butt over to a party at a private house hosted by a bunch of social networking companies. The house itself was not in what I'd call a posh neighborhood, there were several RVs parked out in front of houses and it became pretty clear that the house had been rented sight-unseen. However, they had food, single-malts, and a couple of interesting if not spectacular products to look at.
Everyone Can't Afford the Bellagio, I Guess
Well, I'm already running late for my appointments today. I should have a bunch of real products to show tomorrow, including the OLPC, the South Hall vendors, and the Show Stoppers exhibits.