Bill Gates pokes fun at himself during CES 2008 keynote

Posted by Humphrey Cheung

Las Vegas (NV) – Much has changed since Microsoft co-founder and Chairman Bill Gates first spoke at CES 13 years ago.  Back in what he calls the “first digital decade”, people mainly used keyboards and mice to input data, but now you are starting to see voice and touch technologies.  At this year’s keynote address, he highlighted major video and television deals with NBC and ABC, all while poking a little fun at himself.

Bill Gates announces NBC Olympic partnership using Silverlight video streaming technology 

Since this is Gates’ last keynote address at CES, he made a special gag reel of what his last full day a Microsoft would look like – he is due to step down from day to day activities in July, but he will still retain the Chairman position.  The video begins with Gates driving a Ford Focus to work and accidentally leaving his laptop case on top of the car.  After getting to the office he begins call celebrities like U2’s Bono, presidential candidates Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and even Al Gore.  Everyone blows him off and refuse to hire Gates.  As far as keynote videos go, we give it a solid B.

Gates was gracious enough to mention the touch features on Apple’s iPhone as a prime example of the second digital decade where voice and touch will become the main input choices.  He also demonstrated the Microsoft Surface image table which lets you virtually place and resize objects on the table top.  The Surface isn’t new and was demonstrated at a few conventions last year.

MSNBC will have more than 3000 hours of live and on-demand Olympic programming 

Not much was said about Vista except that 100 million people are currently using Microsoft’s latest consumer OS.  Of course, that number probably isn’t difficult to reach when it is included on almost every new computer you buy.

Microsoft's Robbie Bach challenges Bill Gates to a Guitar Hero match 

Microsoft seems to have scored a major content win with this summer’s Olympic Games in China.  In partnership with NBC, MSNBC will use Silverlight technology and stream more than 3000 hours of live and on-demand programming through the Internet.  According to NBC sports anchor, Bob Costas, Silverlight will make MSNBC, “the ultimate digital destination” for the games and beyond.

In another content win, ABC and Disney have agreed to bring popular shows like LOST and Desperate Housewives to Xbox Live.  MGM has also jumped on board and will allow its library of films to be streamed.

So what about the Zune that was so heavily marketed in previous years?  Interesting enough, Microsoft refuses to let the music player die and Robbie Bach, head of the company's entertainment and devices division, told the audience that sales are doing very well, so well that that the company will begin selling the music player in Canada this spring.  “We’re becoming the clear alternative to the iPod,” said Bach.

With Slash on his side, Gates couldn't lose 

Finally in a CES keynote tradition of bringing up celebrities, “Slash” from Guns N Roses fame helped Bill Gates fend off a Guitar Hero challenge by Bach.  Bach had some help of his own with Guitar Hero champion “TipperQueen”, but the virtual strings weren’t enough to beat Slash who was playing a real guitar.