01. 05. 2006
CES 2006: Day 1, Gates and Corn O'Brien
After grueling individual odysseys to Las Vegas, Hoyun, Jenna, and I are here for CES, the annual chaotic circus of consumer technology. As usual, we'll be taking a somewhat different approach to our reports- more like a cultural study than minute-by-minute accounts of gadget announcements, though we'll be bringing those too. The exhibition hall opens today, but the event was kicked off last night, as has become tradition, with a keynote by Bill Gates. This year, without Conan O'Brien (not to be mistaken for Corn O'Brien which is in plentiful supply at the Sahara Buffet), the entertainment factor was provided by a subdued cameo appearance by Justin Timberlake and a cracked-out frenetic one by Steve Ballmer.
Highlights from the keynote:
- Bill Gates is thrilled to be Time Magazine's Person of the Year, alongside his wife, Melinda Gates, and BFF Bono (in the Time article, Gates and Bono gush about the fun they have when they have sleepovers. Seriously.) Gates humbly added that "Mother Nature" may have won out if there had been one more natural disaster.
-The next generation of Windows, Vista, will look extremely familiar to anyone who uses a Mac. There will be transparent windows for viewing multiple open applications at the same time. "Flip 3D" lets you scroll through all your applications with a much more visual approach.
-Vista will have a Sidebar that is pretty much identical to the Sidebar that's a part of Google Desktop. There will be tab browsing in Internet Explorer, very much like Firefox. Better image previewing, with image editing built-in to the OS. The slideshows will support video.
-Windows Media Player will be like....iTunes! Better playlist functions, support for album art. URGE, a joint venture with MTV, will be MS's challenge to the iTunes store- 2 million songs, available for individual download or all-you-can-eat through a monthly subscription. Lots of customization features, like the making of "auto-mixes" based on your song choices. At this point, Justin Timberlake came out to plug URGE, and when he walked off the stage to the sounds of his new single, Bill Gates walked back on, doing a little dance. Weird.
-The new Treo 700w, with MS's OS instead of Palm's, is available today on Verizon. This is ahead of schedule. The hardware looks a bit sleeker but very familiar, but the big difference is the support for high-speed EVDO connections.
-Several Microsoft presenters updated the crowd on the Rose Bowl score, and the crowd responded with near dead silence. What's the Rose Bowl?
-Xbox 360 is very successful-lots of crowing. Al Bernstein, "legendary" boxing commentator arrives to ref a Fight Night match between Gates and Steve Ballmer, which Gates as Ali, wins, although it looked kind of like when actors play concert pianists in movies- a bit unconvincing. Ballmer jumps around so much and is so exuberant, I thought he was Terry Bradshaw.
-New Microsoft tagline: "Your potential, our passion".
We'll be doing posts on individual products, but you can keep up with Popgadget's Flickr CES set.