Bill Gates: On the CES stump for the last time?
As is his privilege, being the pioneer of the personal computer age and the richest man in the world and all, Bill Gates once again kicked off the Computer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Sunday night.
Microsoft’s founder and chairman, who plans to go part-time later this year, made his standard flurry of announcements, touting Vista and the fact that somehow 100 million copies have shipped to what are probably now largely frustrated users (me being one of them), showing off Microsoft’s latest technology and gadgets — some of which will fly, others of which will most certainly flop, see the Tablet PC for reference — and talking a lot about IPTV.
Gates’ CES State of the Union address is pretty much King Geek before his subjects at the Mecca of Geekdom, even though it’s my experience that any geek really worth his or her salt dismisses Microsoft as an evil corporate monopoly, unless he or she works for the company, of course. I’m not being disrespectful of geeks: most of the smartest, richest people I know are certified geeks, and I’m one too. I’m sitting here writing a blog about the cross-section of the Internet and TV, for chrissakes.
Anyhoo, King Geek had a lot on his mind this go-round.
– British Telecom – or BT as it is more commonly known – is launching IPTV on Microsoft’s Xbox 360, powered by Microsoft Mediaroom. On that note, Mediaroom is powering some one million set-top boxes worldwide, through more than 20 service provider customers on four continents.
– Microsoft also has added a feature called DVR Anywhere to the platform, allowing customers to watch their recorded TV programs on any TV in their home.
– CBS’ Showtime Networks and Time Warner’s TNT and CNN are working with the platform to create and showcase new TV applications.
– Broadcom is working on a new generation of set-top boxes optimized for Mediaroom and based on its BCM7405 system on a chip. By the way, this means Broadcom is joining Microsoft’s “ecosystem” of providers. I always find it hilarious when companies hijack phrases from other disciplines for their own random corporate verbage. I like to then use these phrases in sentences, confusing my friends.
For those of you who don’t know, Mediaroom is the latest name Microsoft has given to its IPTV platform. A Microsoft exec can probably explain it better than I can, so let’s let him, shall we?
Says Enrique Rodriguez, corporate VP, Microsoft TV: “Microsoft Mediaroom builds on the success of the Microsoft IPTV Edition software platform. It enables digital TV service providers to deliver an entertainment experience that’s easy, connected, personal and social. The platform introduces several new features that unlock the potential of TV, such as personal media sharing, connecting the TV to a PC, accessing and enjoying digital pictures or songs – all on the big screen. The platform also offers richer support for Web services and applications, enabling service providers to deploy applications, such as dynamic video-on-demand portals, casual games and interactive TV services.”
In non Mediaroom-related announcements:
– Being an Olympics junkie, I think this one is especially cool: Microsoft and NBC Universal will co-sponsor a massive video streaming Web sites from the 2008 Summer Olympics from Beijing, which will be great for people who want to watch all those events that don’t make it to primetime, like crew and badminton.
– Movies from MGM and TV shows form Disney will be available for download to the Xbox 360 through Microsoft’s Xbox Live service.
– And a bunch of stuff about the Zune. Yawn.