CES: The Microsoft Keynote


Update Jan 12 2006: you must check out this parody of Bill's keynote. Points out how most of the features of Vista are ripoffs of Apple innovations years in the real world.

bill sitting at future monitor
last night I saw the bill gates keynote at ces. It was my third time seeing him open the show, and like a long lasting marriage, he just doesn't excite me the way he used to.

for those who don't know, the keynote speeches at CES are a chance for big tech company folk (google, sony, microsoft, etc) to say how awesome they are ("we have changed how people work"), make vague, unverifiable predictions about the future ("the age of the connected consumer is here") and show off new devices and services ("gentlemen behold! this new video playing stun gun").

my main complaint on the msft presentation is that an hour in I felt like Hamlet's Polonius - "this is too long." they just spent too much time on the whole thing. Still here's my general review

Stuff I liked


They opened painting an interesting picture of our future. One word: NORAD. We'll have big LCD touchscreens everywhere with television, email, photos and the ability to track family members. Think of it like the NSA brought to you by microsoft.

URGE music service with MTV. They're taking on all the existing music subscription and pay-for-download services with a 2 million song catalog and lots of "immersive emotional" features including MTV blogs, hella streaming music, and a ripoff of some auto mixing based on artist stuff (see: Pandora, Music Mixer, Last.fm and many more)

Windows Media Center Vista Edition.
They're doing some awesome on-demand programming with Comedy Central, pulling video away from the web browser and onto the TV where it belongs. Did I mention they're partnering with Comedy Central? That's all i need to know.

stuff I found interesting


Windows Vista. the new operating system after XP. Basically MSFT looked at Apple and Firefox and said, "I want that." So most of the new features are picking up the superior aspects of those products. Really.

Tablet PC. some cute upgrades, but when I went by the booth to see a demo, it was pretty crappy. Dude kept complaining that his pen was 'acting up'.

Cordless home phones with MSN messenger built in. Think about those Skype phones that load your buddy list right on them and let you call. Now apply that to a place your friends really are, like MSN messenger. More bad news for the phone companies!

stuff I thought would have been better if he just sent an email


HD-DVD.
There's a format war over the next generation DVD standard. MSFT didn't really acknowledge or directly say why HD DVD was better than Blu Ray. They showed some pretty video images and explained that HD-DVD will allow you to SEE the director as he comments on the movie. That's spooky. I don't want a bobbing head for two hours on my TV. That's why I have cable news.

Spent 30 minutes talking about the xbox360.
Dudes we know. You make it more realistic for kids to play out there columbine fantasies. Seriously though. Don't talk about stuff everybody already knows. I think Microsoft is just really scared of Sony's PS3, as well they should be.

last words

one, sony's keynote was better. more entertaining. more compelling.

two, basically I want to see what Apple has to say next week. which will bitch slap everyone