Bill Gates made his first CES keynote back in 1994 and there was a frenzy of anticipation on this, reputedly his last keynote before he steps down from the company. After a short introduction from Gary Shapiro, Bill arrived on stage to a healthy applause. It's remarkable to think that someone who has enjoyed a mixed reputation over the years should be so revered, but when you founded the company that produced Windows it probably shouldn't come as such a great surprise.
Following some introspection on the success of the First Digital Decade he introduced a slickly produced spoof short film detailing what his last day at the company might be like. It featured a number of celebrities all trying to evade Bill's attempts to join them, asking Bono if he could join U2 and John Stewart if he could have a regular slot on The Daily Show, as well as pestering the likes of George Clooney, Steven Spielberg, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and a few others. It was entertaining and crowd pleasing stuff and even this cynical stiff upper lipped journo was forced to crack a smile.
Next he outlined his vision of the Second Digital Decade, stating he believed it would be all about "connecting people" - a common theme throughout the show this year. He spoke about 3D online environments, stating that "no longer will users bridge the gap between devices". He also spoke about 'Natural User Interfaces', name checking the iPhone and Microsoft's own Surface technology in the process. Ironically, having spoken of the importance of natural interfaces he then spoke of the success of Windows Mobile and Vista.
After a demo of Microsoft Surface, based around designing a new snowboard using the touch sensitive surface, Robbie Bach appeared on stage to talk about Microsoft's entertainment division. He announced that Xbox Live had passed the 10 million members milestone and also announced new partnerships with ABC/Disney and MGM to provide films and TV shows to Xbox Live in the US. He also spoke about the aforementioned deal with BT to sell an Xbox 360 with Microsoft's MediaRoom platform.
He also praised the success of Windows Vista in helping to expand the PC gaming market, though quite how he can currently consider Vista a success as a gaming platform is beyond me!