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The Final CES Keynote From Bill Gates 182

Sunday evening saw the final CES keynote delivered by Bill Gates in his current role with the Microsoft corporation. Speculation about big announcements generally seemed to be for naught, as his last address at the show focused more on broad concepts than blockbuster news. "Gates outlined three major themes for the second digital decade-high definition displays with 3D experiences and high quality video and audio, connected services and the power of natural interfaces. Gates had a vision early of those themes, but his quest to make the Tablet PC, Media Center PCs and natural interfaces, such as speech and touch, more mainstream has not been realized." A full description of the talk, including his Guitar Hero finale with Slash, is available in Engadget's liveblog of the event.
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The Final CES Keynote From Bill Gates

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 07, 2008 @09:23AM (#21941214)
    We've "read it on Slashdot" every year for the past 10. Just like "Linux on the desktop THIS year," it isn't happening any time soon.
  • by stewbacca ( 1033764 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @09:51AM (#21941402)
    Ahh, but the genius of it all... In 10 years, people will point to Bill G. stepping down as the cause of the MS implosion, completely forgetting about the Vista flop. Or the MS apologists will just cry "Perfect Storm" with the rise of OSX and Linux alternatives over the next several years.
  • Xbox 360 Ultimate (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Rik Sweeney ( 471717 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @09:53AM (#21941418) Homepage
    Well, it was supposed to be the Xbox 360 Ultimate, but after what happened over the weekend it's now being used to prop open a door.
  • by Kupfernigk ( 1190345 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @09:57AM (#21941446)
    Those things never became mainstream because Microsoft was always trying to introduce them before either the hardware or the software were ready. They thought that people would accept something that actually did not work very well because their engineers thought it would be compelling.

    Unfortunately, it doesn't work like that. Disruptive technologies gain traction fast when they have a compelling advantage and a short learning curve.

    For instance, cannon were a disruptive technology but had a very long learning curve, maybe hundreds of years. Railways, on the other hand, had a compelling advantage in speed and capacity, but had a relatively short learning curve because on the one hand there was a huge body of canal building knowledge to draw on when building railways, and on the other the user interface (buy ticket, get on train) was dirt simple. So railways spread rather fast.

    None of the ideas Microsoft have touted have had either a compelling advantage or a short learning curve. Speech input is simply less effective, for many reasons, than learning to type. Lugging around a tablet PC does not result in productivity gains for most people. And, as anyone who has ever tried to design a rule based decision support system knows, anything involving natural interfaces is simply very hard to do indeed, and the payback is rarely there except in a few niche markets.

    I believe that the reason for this is that many large corporations have simply forgotten who their customers are. Google will find it hard to do this because there is no lock-in, and their customers have no loyalty. They must listen to their two classes of customers - sellers and end users - or die. Microsoft doesn't seem, any more, to know whether its customers are the recording industry, computer manufacturers, CIOs or, a poor fourth, the actual end users of their computers. Apple could fall into the same trap, but at the moment (at least with personal computers) seems to have its eye on the ball.

    Microsoft is huge, bigger in revenue than IBM, and enormously rich. It is impossible to second guess them, and shorting their stock would be foolish. But anyone who has followed the trajectory, in recent years, of (say) Ford versus Toyota and Porsche, would have to agree that being very large is no guarantee of continuing success.

  • Re:Silverlight? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jackharrer ( 972403 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @09:58AM (#21941454)
    Actually as much as I don't like Msft, I think Silverlight is good. It makes Adobe to update Flash, it promotes competition and stops the stagnation that's been around for a long time. MPEG4 for Flash anybody? Why does it took so long to implement it? There was no need for Adobe to do it?

    Offtopic: Anybody's curious when Msft is going to buy Novell and Suse with it? So much Msft cash is going into Mono and similar projects sponsored by Novell...
  • Re:Silverlight? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tgd ( 2822 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @10:07AM (#21941520)
    Not really... they serve similar goals, but its really MS's way of getting the (MUCH more powerful) .NET development environment in the hands of rich client content web developers.

    The uptake is slow, but IMO its really a better technology than Flash. It gives far better language tools to the programmers and provides much better separation of design, interface and code where doing larger projects with bigger teams will be easier.

    Silverlight 1.0 was very flash-like -- the framework wasn't fully fleshed out as far as what you could present to the user, but the newer releases provide full GUI toolkits.

    Lets put it this way -- you wouldn't (no matter what Adobe thinks) build an enterprise application with Flash. Some smaller teams may play around with it, but it wouldn't happen successfully in the broad market. I personally don't believe the same can be said about Silverlight.
  • Re:Silverlight? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Khuffie ( 818093 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @10:59AM (#21941964) Homepage
    Even though you've heard of Flex, you don't seem to be that familiar with it. Flex is getting quite close to Java in terms of programming methods and it's framework is pretty solid. In fact, where I work, whenever we need to hire someone we just look at Java developers and they're up and running in no time. And I've found I've been able to look at Java myself even though I've never had much experience with it. And yes, we do build a real enterprise level application.
  • by Stormwatch ( 703920 ) <> on Monday January 07, 2008 @11:35AM (#21942328) Homepage

    "The Tablet takes cutting-edge PC technology and makes it available wherever you want it, which is why I'm already using a Tablet as my everyday computer. It's a PC that is virtually without limits -- and within five years I predict it will be the most popular form of PC sold in America." - Gates at COMDEX 2001

    He is not completely mistaken, actually... []
  • by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @12:03PM (#21942548) Journal
    I'd say Gates was *neither*. He was a shrewd businessman who was able to recognize an opportunity and run with it, back in the 80's - and it paid off for him in spades.

    The cries about him being a "monopolist" are somewhat misplaced, IMHO. Show me ANY C.E.O. of a successful, global business today who wouldn't want his/her company to achieve a similar market-share, if they could only figure out a way to do it! Yes, Microsoft made some questionable business deals, but again, I'd say that's "par for the course" in today's big businesses. I'm pretty confident you could find equally, if not MORE "evil" business dealings here or there with Monsanto, Xerox, General Electric, IBM, Cisco, Toyota, or yes, even Apple. You name the company. If they're very successful, then at least *somebody* in the inner workings has done something "corrupt" at some point in time. It's human nature.

    On the other end of the spectrum, no, he hasn't been much of a "visionary" either. He correctly envisioned an America with "a PC on every desk", more or less. But beyond that, the claims of his "ability to predict the tech. future" is more marketing than reality. Everyone wants to think they're investing in a company that's "cutting edge" and committed to continuous improvements. This is especially key in the software industry, where essentially, you're paying to license the use of someone's idea/concept of making your computer perform a certain set of tasks. I didn't expect Gates to do much besides making very broad, generalized "predictions" at this keynote, and it looks like it played out just like I suspected.
  • Re:Silverlight? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by morgan_greywolf ( 835522 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @12:57PM (#21943264) Homepage Journal
    Oh, I'm not saying that Silverlight is great. As AKAImBatman would point out, before you implement Silverlight, you should really read the WHATWG specs [], which are being developed in a truly open process, vs. Silverlight and Moonlight, which are nothing more than implementations of some spec developed for some proprietary crap.
  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @01:43PM (#21943830) Homepage Journal

    Just like with The Road Ahead Bill Gates will soon bring out a second edition of the video recording of the keynote, where he'll use state-of-the-art video-editing wizardry to make it look like he had predicted this year's tech trends all along.

    I had the fortune to catch Bill doing a CES Key-Note address a few years back. It's pretty funny to see how he continues to get it wrong and they continue to have him do Key-Note addresses.

    As a company, Microsoft is not terribly good at being visionary. Their track record is a line of failed attempts to push their technology, which should be hooking every household into a Microsoft world. Where they fail is understanding most of these items consumers buy, use for a while and then toss, without ever getting fully hooked in. Windows CE was to be in everything from CD players to Bookreading tablets, but we're seeing Linux, java, etc. thriving. Clearly there's some reason why not every Consumer Electronics company has not jumped on the Windows bandwagon - they better than I know their reasons, I only observe the results.

    The last time I heard Bill talk he seemed, perhaps unwittingingly, to be threatening about half the companies at CES with muscling them into a Mafia-esque grip of their technology and vision for the future.

    Once you realise most of it is utter bollox, just sit back and wait for him to flub words or his on-stage demo to crash.

Perfection is acheived only on the point of collapse. - C. N. Parkinson