CES 2008: Liveblogging Bill Gates' last CES keynote

Bill Gates has given ten keynote speeches at CES since 1994. Tonight at 6:30 pm PST he'll deliver his eleventh CES keynote, and some say his last. After all, Gates spends more time trying to cure malaria than he does programming for the Xbox: he's slated to stop being involved in Microsoft's day-to-day operations in July of this year. No matter! We're here to liveblog, and we're here for the celebrities: word is Gates brings along an A-list star every year. And maybe Gates will even have some news for us. So love Bill Gates or hate him, stick around. We may snap a picture of someone you love.

Click continue to live the magic.

gatesandslash.jpg

8:05: The keynote is over, and my drained computer is finally getting some juice. Looking back on the speech, there wasn't a lot to get excited about. Microsoft Surface was pretty cool, but we've heard about it for a long time without it moving closer to the market. We like the idea of a combined Xbox and cable box, though it would definitely tie users in to one cable provider (as if they aren't already). We'll miss Bill Gates next year, but we won't miss the four-hour wait to see him. Besides, he could always show up as the surprise celebrity guest.

7:39: Actually, they're not going to play Guitar Hero. Instead Slash is here, playing real electric guitar.

7:36 Gates is going to play Guitar Hero 3 against Robbie Bach and against a real Guitar Hero champ!

gatesspeech.jpg

7:33 Bill is back, holding a device that looks a lot like an iPhone. It's not, however, it's a phone with a big screen and camera that recognizes your surroundings and friends. It can recognize buildings and tell you what's going on inside. It's recognizing Las Vegas buildings right now: I'm not sure this would work anywhere else. Or even that it would work here if we went outside.

7:30: Here's something I missed from a few minutes ago: an announcement about Mediaroom: there will be a new technology called DVR Anywhere. You can customize what you see on TV, from which car to watch on Nascar, to what candidate to follow on TV during an election.

7:28: Windows Mobile. Microsoft sell lots of Windows Mobile phones: Robbie and somebody else are demo-ing voice searches though a program called Tellme. Bo-ring. Where's Bill Gates? Come back!

7:21: There's a car on stage? New product called Sync, that gives you information while you're driving. I kind of missed this announcement, more on it later, maybe.

7:17: Zune: new versions are doing very well. They've been so pleased with the results that they'll be selling the Zune internationally starting this spring.

7:15: BT will sell an Xbox that will also act as your cable box. I like that idea! Not sure if that's just in England, or if we'll get it over here too.

7:13: Robbie Bach comes in to talk about Xbox, television, and the Zune. There are more than 10 million members on Xbox live. An announcement: ABC and Disney will bring their TV shows to Xbox live this month. Also MGM is bringing its video library to Xbox live for High Def video rentals.

7:10: Gates announces a partnership between Microsoft and NBC for broadcasting the Beijing Olympics online. The technology is called Microsoft Silverlight and will enable us to watch broadband video over the Internet. Gates says that the Olympics video website "will let us illustrate how TV is going to be very different [in the future]."

7:05: Gates is back, doing a Windows Surface demo. Apparently, this is the first Windows Surface live demo ever. The table recognizes his phone, gestures, and acts as a touch screen. He decorates a snowboard and sends the image to the Internet.

7:03 The Vista rep is talking about Windows Live calendar, address book, photo gallery, and "live space." There's even an evite rip-off called Windows Live Events.

7:00: Latest developments with Vista Live and Mobile: Gates leaves the stage and a Vista rep comes in to tell us how great Windows Live and Vista are.

6:57: Some Gates predictions for the next decade:
1. High definition experiences everywhere. Projecting on the wall, computer in your desk: we'll apply high quality video and audio in an integrated way.
2. Users won't have to bridge between devices: devices will share information seamlessly. Digital memory and search so that you don't lose information.
3. The power of natural user interface. The first digital decade was driven by the keyboard and the mouse. But in the future, there will be different interface implementations: voice, for instance, and touch screens. Gestures.

6:53: He's back. More about the "second digital decade." New applications will run on all sorts of platforms: PDAs, Cell phones, mp3 players etc. Some gadgets have not yet been invented, but it's all about the software.

6:50: A "funny" video about Gates retiring where Gates plays with Star Wars toys and Matthew McConaughey acts as his personal trainer. Bono is in the video: he's saying that even though Gates is good at guitar hero he can't join U2. Steven Spielberg is criticizing his acting abilities. George Clooney doesn't want to play Gates in a movie. John Stewart doesn't want him back at the show. Hillary Clninton and Barack Obama are in this video! They don't want him to be the VP candidate.

6:45: "This is my last keynote." (!!!) In July I'll move from being a full time employee at Microsoft to being full time at my foundation. He says it's the first time since he was 17 since I haven't had that full time Microsoft job.

6:42: Gates comes in. He's giving a summary of some of the things he's said in past years: predicting small computers like the Palm pilot. "The first digital decade has been tremendously successful." All entertainment will be Software based. "This is just the beginning."

6:35: Some corny video and an introduction by the President of CEA. Yes, Bill Gates is a big deal. And an excellent philanthropist. Also, CES has 140,000 attendees.

6:12: Did someone turn on a smoke machine in here? Could be. I've abandoned Verizon for very expensive but extremely slow Wi-Fi. Predictions about what Gates will say: this portable music trend has legs. Cheap computers in third world countries are desirable. Or maybe he doesn't think that, and believes that mosquito control is more important? Will he address the recent HD-DVD setbacks? How will this affect the Xbox/PSP war? We'll find out....

5:51: Could Bill Gates really have anything to say that's worth this much trouble and effort? I am not the only hungry journalist asking this question. This ballroom (in the Venetian Hotel) gets almost no cell phone reception and I'm relying on a Verizon Wireless modem (thanks Verizon!), so updates may be slow/spotty. Stick with me though: after all, this is the official CES kick-off.

5:32: pm Finally made it into the ballroom. I had to stand in a press line for two hours just to get in here. Regular spectators were waiting much longer. Below, a picture of the pandemonium. The speech starts in an hour: check back for updates then.

billgatescrowdsk.jpg