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01. 09. 2008

Goodbye Bill, we'll miss you

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No matter how jaded you are, if you were among the 140,000 attendees at this year's CES, you couldn't help but be moved by Bill Gates' last keynote speech on Sunday as he announced that he is stepping down from Microsoft in July to devote all his energies to his philanthropic foundation he started with his wife, Melinda.

Even though it has been rumored for a year, many thought Bill incapable of walking away from the company he founded 30 years ago. But sure enough, there he was on stage Sunday, pledging to leave his day job (though he still retains his "chairman" title). Gates injected some levity into his presentation by kicking off with a humorous sketch featuring friends, including former Vice President Al Gore, rapper/producer Jay Z and U2 front man Bono. The video began with NBC News anchor Brian Williams gravely intoning that Gates' last day marks the end of an era, and then flashing to Bill in his office, idly playing with Star Wars toys and trying to figure out what to do with his day now that he's "retired" from Microsoft. (Watch the video here.)

Prediciting the future, Gates described the "next digital decade," of an expanding HD experience, saying that displays will be everywhere, including walls and desks. In addition, all devices will be "service-connected," with a seamless experience of content and devices. Gates noted that the next digital decade will also see the power of the "natural user interface" take hold, with "touch" technology and speech recognition appearing in more products, as indeed we are already seeing in many concept products here at CES. Gates also announced a major partnership with NBC, in which MSN will be the exclusive online provider of live, on demand footage from the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Over 3,000 hours of footage will be available at NBCOlympics.com.

Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft’s Entertainment & Devices Division, took the stage to boast about Xbox Live, which has surpassed 10 million members. Xbox fans in the audience cheered this announcement. Bach also announced a partnership with MGM, in which the entertainment company will provide a library of films for Xbox Live.

Regardless of where you stand on Microsoft, you knew you were watching history on Sunday at Gates' eleventh and final keynote address.

Good luck in the future, Bill and write if you find work.

Posted by Evan    Category: CES 2008
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