THERE WAS a lot of anticipation at the spacious Palazzo Ballroom at The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino at Las Vegas last evening.
Everybody that could, wanted to hear Bill Gates‘ last International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) keynote address. Thousands of journalists and technologists queued for some four hours in snake-like lines that wound around several floors of the Venetian to hear him give his tenth and final CES keynote speech.
As most people know, Bill Gates will retire as a full Microsoft employee next July.
In just under six months, Gates will retire from full-time work with the software company to devote his time and energy to his philanthropic project The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which aims for global equity in health care and education. He plans to travel extensively mainly focusing on these two social issues in an effort to help poor communities in developing nations.
Gates isn’t a dazzling stage-performer by any stretch. His squeak of a voice has nothing of the immediacy or intensity of some of his peers (Steve Jobs of Apple Inc. comes to mind), yet he dresses somewhat like him with his daggy blue sweater and slacks. Now don’t let this humble appearance fool you; Bill Gates is one of the few visionaries that revolutionized desktop computing; and in the process, influenced the career opportunities for millions of IT support workers around the globe.
Since Bill Gates first keynote address at CES 13 years ago, consumer technology has changed dramatically. It was an energizing decade of cutting edge technological breakthroughs. Now Bill Gates wants to show us what the second decade will look like. He anticipates The Next Digital Decade will center on three fundamental developments:
- Improved, ubiquitous, high definition displays (including “Minority Report” – like projections and Surface PC touch-enabled tables).
- Effortless service connectivity, so all your devices are aware of and work with each other.
- More natural user interfaces involving touch, digital ink, and voice commands.
Gates predicted that PCs will continue grow this year at double digit growth rates, and announced that Microsoft’s latest Vista operating system now has some 100 million users. He also announced that broadcaster NBC will be offering some 3,000 hours of footage from the Beijing Olympic Games online using Microsoft’s Silverlight and Live software technologies.
In gaming, Gates’ associates announced that the company has shipped some 17.7 million X-Box games consoles, claiming that more cash is spent on X Box games than games for both Nintendo Wii and Sony Playstation put together.
Bill Gates also wanted to trumpet new innovations in the digital home and for the portable music player Zune and demonstrated ways in which Microsoft technology can be used to improve the communications and entertainment experience while driving in a car.
The end of the speech was an unexpected one where Bill Gates and one of his associates mimicked playing a guitar duel with Slash from Velvet Revolver and Kelly Law-Yone, another Guitar Hero champion. I would have to admit it was an exciting ending to the more-or-less formal speech.
Then Gates, unassumingly, walked off the CES stage for the last time. No special major Microsoft product announcements nor any emotional farewell.
If you can spare 67 minutes and 34 seconds of your valuable time, you can listen to the Bill Gates’ CES keynote speech in its entirety by kindly clicking here.