Mr Gates started by talking about the Digital Decade and how over 2 billion digital photos were taken in the last year. and how 65 percent of homes are using digital cameras are these statistics worldwide or U.S. only?).
Preparing for some of the announcements for later during the keynote, he also points out that over 40 percent of U.S. homes now have multiple personal computers and how the new generation spends more time on their PC than they spend watching TV and how information is everywhere, thanks to portable devices and connections possible thanks to 3G and Wi-Fi.
Justin Hutchinson was then called to talk to the audience about Windows Vista, the company's operating system shiping the end of this month to consumers. He showed the audience the new user interface eye candy and spent some time talking about the Ultimate Extras program. Users running the Windows Vista Ultimate version of this operating system will have access to extra programs that are available exclusively through Windows Update.
One of these new programs is DreamScene, an animated desktop that allows users to select a movie to be contantly playing in the desktop without interfering with other operations.
Justin also talked about the ShadowCopy, a feature that allows users to return documents and other files to a previous point in time, including a reference to the Vanishing Point game in the demonstration.
He continued by showing new capabilities on Microsoft Local Live service, which now includes the ability to show 3D rendering of maps and satellite imagery bringing an almost street level view of maps, thanks to Virtual Earth 3D technology that's built into Windows Live.
He then introduced SportsLounge, developed by Microsoft and FoxSports.com. The service allows sports fans to watch a live HD feed and constantly receive real-time information, and real-time scores for every sports program in a personal channel line up. The service also sends out real-time alerts about favourite players and teams.
Another feature from Windows Vista is the ability to create DVDs from media content on a PC and the GroupShot, a program that consumers can use to manipulate digitial photos and combine elements from different images to quickly fix problems or create new images.
Bill Gates was then back on stage and talked about a series of new devices coming up plus the expected announcement of Windows Home Server.
The new devices line up includes the HP TouchSmart PC, a multimedia machine with touchscreen based on an user interface similar to that present on UMPCs. He also just talked about the Toshiba Portege R400, a new tablet PC with SideShow, the feature that allows you to keep tabs on what's going on without having to turn on the PC, by using external displays. The Sony VAIO VGX-TP1 is a futuristic media centre, and the Medion UMPC is a new device in the ultra mobile PC class.
The audience then watched a short movie about digital content. The whole idea was to emphasise the amount of digital content present in our lives, and to introduce the Windows Home Server, slated to come out in the second half of 2007.
The Windows Home Server is for homes where you've got either multiple PCs, or Xboxes, with storage being available all the time to different devices. The product was developed with HP and branded as HP Media Smart Server, running the Windows Home Server software.
Features include the ability to automatically reconfigure storage when new discs are added to the box, plus manage connections inside the house. The software includes automatic backups for PCs, and connectivity for Xbox and Zune.
Robbie Bach took the stage to talk about connected entertainment and mobility in general. He told the audience how during the last year's CES Bill Gates introduced the MTV Urge music service, and how this was part of a strategy that continued with the introduction of the Zune media player.
According to Bach, the Zune is the number two player already in its mp3 player category and Microsoft is on track to ship and sell a million copies of Zune, although it's not clear in what timeline.
Microsoft declared its commitment to the platform, with promise to improve software and hardware, and the community of music around Zune. In his own words "This is a place where we are deeply committed to being successful, and you're going to see us in this space in a leadership position in the years to come."
In terms of mobility and smart devices the Cingular Blackjack from Samsung, Treo from Palm, the T-Mobile Dash from HTC, and Verizon's Motorola Q were listed as example of designs that are driving market share advances for Windows Mobile. And of course, with a stab at RIM's BlackBerry, Bach said Windows Mobile outsells RIM's messaging and communications platform.
The show wouldn't be complete without game. On-line game, individual gaming, multi-player gaming. The star of the show was a video of Halo 3 to come out soon. The video showed realistic images, great sound and music.
Gaming was a big part of the keynote. From the announcement of IPTV for Xbox 360, to the introduction of Xbox Live for PC. This new service allows users playing PC games with equivalent titles on the Xbox Live network to join and play games with other on-line gamers even if they are using different platforms.
The keynote finished with Bill Gates introducing concepts taken from the Microsoft Home of the Future, an exhibition in the Microsoft Campus which is just being revamped, with things Microsoft thinks could be present in a typical home, in the next decade.
An interesting keynote, and surprisingly bug free. This year we had no blue screen, infrared remote controls problems, delayed networking and alike. Everything worked smoothly and the audience was taken with some of the new concepts introduced.
The crowd specially liked the Windows Home Server concept design and features, certainly loved the new visual introduced with features such as DreamScene and was taken by the 3D map views shown with Local Live.
We had a session with the Windows Vista Ultimate Extras team during the Windows Vista RTM Lab, and here are the details...
Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate combines advanced infrastructure features of a business-focused operating system, all of the management and efficiency features of a mobility-focused operating system, and all of the digital entertainment features of a consumer-focused operating system. In summary, it's the version with all options enabled.
Enough said? Not yet. The Windows Vista Ultimate Extras add more software to that package. It brings some cutting edge programs, bundled with some innovative services. These packages will be available for download from the Windows Update service, exclusively to owners of Windows Vista Ultimate.
The first "extra" is an enhanced version of Windows Hold 'em, a poker game.
But the really cool thing to come out is Windows DreamScene, a full motion video desktop, capable of showing high definition visualitions on the desktop at 30 fps.
Bummer you can't see the things moving on those pictures: flames and river move like in a movie. Very nice, and you can select your own home made videos for this.
From Monday 8 January 2007 you consumers will be able to check blogs, showcased configurations, community forums and more through www.windowsultimate.com, a site exclusively dedicated to Windows Vista Ultimate Extras.
Art Wolfe's photographs are recognized throughout the world for their mastery of color, composition, and perspective. His vision and passionate wildlife advocacy affirm his dedication to his work. Wolfe's photographic mission is multi-faceted. By employing artistic and journalistic styles, he documents his subjects and educates the viewer. His unique approach to nature photography is based on his training in the arts and his love of the environment.
Also worth checking how Art uses Windows Vista.
We weren't allowed to take pictures inside because of our NDA - but all will be be revealed later tonight after Bill Gates's keynote at the 2007 CES.
Talking about Bill Gates, he arrived at the Microsoft Product Pavilion about 9:30am and our group had a private meeting with Mr. Gates. He answered some of our questions regarding technology, the new Microsoft Windows Vista, the launch activites and about his plans to leave the day-to-day at Microsoft and dedicate his time to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Back to The Orleans we have more sessions, and at 6:30pm our group will move to The Venetian to attend the keynote.
Exciting day ahead!
But everything is back on track, including Internet access (thanks to Cingular). The sessions are under way, and here are some screenshots:
As you can see the wireless LAN access is a bit "crowded" in this room. A lot of people here...
The sessions include:
- 3P Hardware
- Day in life of a bug
- 3P Software
- Vista UX backstory
- Toshiba PC innovations
- Windows Live
- AMD Platforms
- Vista & Photography
- Office 12 / 2007
Some of these sessions are delivered under NDA, so I will try and post later with a summary of information we are allowed to share...
I got here and start trying my "communications plan". But so far the only thing working is the T-Mobile WiFi Hotspot... Keep reading:
- The Vodafone Treo 750v: disappointment. I turned the radio on, and it showed I am roaming on Cingular. I can send and receive SMS, but that's it. I can't place or receive phone calls! If I try I receive a "Network Busy" message on the Phone application. I noticed a girl sitting next to me during the terminal change and asked her if she was using Cingular (what a line, right?). She was, so I thought it could be only a problem when calling overseas... So I changed the SIM to the i-mate Jasjar I brought as Plan B and it worked. It seems the Vodafone Treo 750v is not "roaming friendly". I am going to follow up this with Vodafone New Zealand.
- The Merlin XU870: disappointment. Even though there's a post on Geekzone with precise instructions on how to install the Vodafone VMC software on Windows Vista, I found another problem: the laptop is running Windows Vista RTM 64 bit, and those instructions won't work, so...
- Boingo Hotspot: I have an account with Boing and would prefer to use it over T-Mobile Hotspot, but for some reason Boingo won't log me in through Internet Explorer on Windows Vista. I am going to download Firefox soon...
- Plan Z was to use the Vodafone Treo 750v with the Cingular SIM card over Bluetooth, but seeing the Vodafone Treo 750v is not "roaming friendly", I might have to resort to using WiFi at the hotel and conference...
UPDATE: I arrived at the hotel at midnight, after a five hour delay in Los Angeles due to a delayed airplane. Then United Airlines misplaced my suitcase and promised to deliver at the hotel sometime during the evening. Now to the communications Plan D, which actually works!
I found out that the Palm Treo 750v will work while roaming if I manually set the UMTS network to 1900MHZ/850MHz. It seems the Auto setting is not working for some reason.
Next, as promised, the Cingular SIM card was waiting for me here. I inserted it into the Palm Treo 750v and it automatically loaded the appropriate APN configuration and I had no problems connecting to Cingular's network. So instead of using the Merlin XU870 HSDPA card (which won't work on Windows Vista 64 bit) I decided to keep the i-mate Jasjar for my voice communications and use the Palm Treo 750v as a Bluetooth modem. It all works perfectly this way.
Today I got an e-mail from DHL with a tracking number so I should have a Cingular SIM card ready for use when I get to Las Vegas.
I'd also like to thank Rocky S., who contacted me asking if I had already sorted my mobile Internet access for my stay in Las Vegas, offering his Verizon EVDO card as a loaner if I still had a need for that. Thanks Rocky, as explained before I now have this sorted, but it was very kind of you.
Also as a part of my full disclosure, I am flying to Las Vegas as a guest of Microsoft, part of their Windows Vista Lab, a series of activities that will take our group throuhg a more in depth view of Microsoft Windows Vista.
The last MVP Summit was a blast, and Steve Ballmer delivered the keynote. This time Bill Gates will keynote the event, and this is going to be another highlight:
The Microsoft MVP Program is proud to announce that Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates will deliver the keynote at the 2007 Global Summit! Save the date - the Global Summit will take place March 12-15, 2007 in Seattle at the Washington State Convention Center and at Microsoft Corporation’s main campus in Redmond, Washington. Based on MVP feedback, you can expect a more dynamic and interactive atmosphere this year during the Executive Day sessions and we can’t think of a better way to kick it off than with remarks from BillG!
Great stuff... You can find more about the Microsoft MVP Programme here, and my own MVP Profile here.
A shipment sent out from the U.S. on the 22nd December has been here in New Zealand since the 26th and waiting for customs to clear it.
I called DHL every morning to be told a different story. "Our broker in Wellington is on holiday until next week" (really, so no one in New Zealand's capital is receiving parcels coming from overseas?), or "The shipment came unmanifested, our fault, but we asked for the papers to be faxed already", through "The sender did not provide us with documents, we have called them to ask for those", and other lame excuses.
The fact is that something I needed here before my trip to Las Vegas is not going to arrive. And the DHL service people are not helping at all. They provide mixed information, wrong information and all sorts of excuses.
Is there anyone reading this that can actually reach for someone clued up at DHL New Zealand?
Note that until now I had never had a problem or reason to complain about DHL services, and always used them for my courier needs. But I think I will simply have to shift to FedEx or some other alternative.
UPDATE: manage to get the sender to contact DHL in the U.S., and as expected, it was all clear. So the problem is here. I called DHL again and this time someone actually found out more about this, including the fact import duties are paid, and this is all that needed to be known. They are now sending this to a broker for release from customs - but if I want this before I go to Las Vegas I have to go and collect from their warehouse. No delivery...