Team Maximum PC is here at the Venetian hotel/casino in Las Vegas, attending the Microsoft CES keynote. This will be the first keynote since Bill Gate's retirement, and Steve "Developers! Developers! Developers!" Ballmer is filling in to kick off the conference. This is Microsoft's chance to wow techies after Apple dropped the ball yesterday with its decidedly unspectacular MacWorld keynote. Windows 7 will undoubtedly be the hot topic of tonight's presentation, but we're hoping for a few surprises as well. Ballmer has also historically been an energetic and entertaining speaker, so we know we're in for a good show, at least. Keep your eyes peeled on MaximumPC.com and this liveblog page for all the latest updates!
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7:51 - Oh shit, they're making us listen to tripod again. RUN!
7:50 - There's a 1mm flexible active display on the stage. it's similar to an e-Ink display. hopefully something you can roll up into your backpack. This is how Ballmer wants to read in the future. I'm ready for that too. The thing in the lower left corner of the shot below is the e-ink flexible display. RAD.
Looks like that's it. Good night and good luck guys. We'll add a full gallery of shots in a bit.
7:45 - Janet is showing a digital anatomy textbook that's pulling the info it displays from the Cloud (I guess that means the internet). she can zoom and see a full 3D model of the human body. This is pretty cool. She said "the cloud" again.
There's an animation showing what synapse firing actually looks like. This tech demo looks more like something that was Hollywood'd than a actual tech demo.
The document is using semantic analysis to determine what she's looking at, what's part of her classwork, etc.There's an unbelieveable knowledge tree of everything she's ever used here. It's kind of like that Visual Thesaurus app, or the musicplasma thing that was hot on the internet a few years ago.
More in a moment.
7:40 - Robbie Bach has left the stage. My ass is numb from sitting here for so long."The TV screen will not be left behind from the kind of innovation that's coming". Is this the big reveal of something amazing? Steve says we're on the cusp of a revolution in technology. Moore's Law has morphed from a world that delivers more speed to a world that delivers more processors. This is tough to do, but the industry can do it. Screens and displays will be everywhere. HD displays are getting cheaper, lighter and more portable. PCs, phones, TVs, and other devices wll become a single platform for creating experiences. Apps will automatically adjust to the capabilites of the devices you run them on. Software will learn what you like and predict your needs. Your software will know what to do to prep you for a biz trip - book hotel, air, etc. I think someone at Microsoft has been talking to William Gibson.
Janet Galore is coming up to tell us what Microsoft Research has been up to next.
7:38 - The kid doing the KODU demo (Sparrow) is hardcore with the radial menus. I forget how awesome they are if they're fast enough that you can actually use them. She was using the radial menus to adjust items in her game world. These are incredibly deep radial menus, compared to other apps. This is a pretty impressive tool, and she's controlling it entirely using the Xbox controller. There are lots of little games in the world,
7:35 - Looking at the Xbox Netflix queue, and looking at 30 Rock in Netflix. He's going to watch episode 2, and we're going to stream it in realtime. You can do this today, although I'm not sure if it's in HD. 12,000 TV shows and movies available via Netflix. The fast forward dialog is really neat, but it's not anything new. You can do this today. He has a phone that you can get on Windows Mobile total access that will let you control your queue on Windows Mobile today. it's like iFlix on the iPhone. Essentially, the phone is the selection device for the stuff in the queue.
Microsoft is winning in music games. I can attest to this, we play a lot of Rock Band on Xbox Live at the Smith house. Xbox Live accounts for 80% of song downloads on all platforms. Artists are using this as a way to introduce new music and expand their audiences.
KODU is a way for kids and others to create their own games on Xbox Live and share them wtih other people.
7:30 -This spring, Microsot will launch Xbox Live Primetime. Scheduled times to play games with your friends.
It looks like they're going to have real, human hosts to host these games. The 1vs100 host seems to actually be talking to Robbie. I wonder if it will really work like this when it goes live.
Netflix is on the screen... More on that in a moment.
7:25 - Talking about Halo now. Do you guys care about Halo? Post in the comments if you do. Average players put in 150 hours of Halo on Xbox Live.Halo Wars will be out Feb 28, and will be rated T. There will be a demo on Feb 5.
Halo 3 ODST will ship this fall. It's a more traditional Halo game, with new characters, new scenarios, etc. This is in 2009, so it should be a good year for Xbox again.
New Xbox Experience (NXE) has increased downloads 60%. 10B hours of gameplay and interaction on the service. The NXE includes avatars now. They're "virtual yous" not virtual Miis :) 33% more friends now than people had prior to the NXE launch.
7:20 - Robbie Back is on the stage. (He's the president of the entertainment division, including Xbox and other cool stuff).
"Entertainment is at its best when you share the experience." Last year, Robbie has a Ford car on stage, when they introduced Sync. They're continuing big work with Ford, including Sync with TellMe built into it. Sync is pretty cool, I've used it. I like it.
Zune had a great year. They won critics over, and the new software's pretty good. 2M people on Zune Social. They drove innovation with subscriptions.
10M unique users a month using Media Center to access entertainment on their PCs. Average session time is about 90 mintes, coincidentally, the length of most feature length movies. 2.5M people world wide subscribed to MS MediaRoom. They're adding PVR stuff to MediaRoom, without requiring recording. There will be interactive apps that will appear on your TV. This is really not exciting stuff.
Xbox is the big success story for 2008. It was the best holiday for Xbox, and best year ever. 28M consoles, with more games bought on Xbox than any other platform. They're sub-$200 first too. Momentum will accelerate for Xbox. Xbox Live has 17M members (70% growth).
7:15 - Tripod is on stage. We'll take a moment to enjoy their musical stylings while we fill in some back pics.
PS. They're making save point jokes. They're pretty funny, but I think the bar at CES is pretty low :)
7:12 - On the right side of a hotmail message, there's a quick add pane, for resturants. It made it really easy to add the search results she wanted in an email. The What's New feed is being pulled into the services you use the most - hotmail, messenger, the homepage, and mobile. One more thing - her favorite new feature in messenger. She's recorded a video user tile. There are Dynamic Display pictures, so her user tile changes to match the emoticon. At the bottom of the pane, there's a tip about mortgage rates dropping to 5.23%. Next up, Robbie Back
7:10 - She's talking about touch now, which is built into the DNA of Windows 7. There are multiple gestures that are built into Microsoft apps, and the APIs are easy to integrate, she says.
Next up, mobile. Flash is built into the next version of Windows mobile, so she can watch hamster on a piano. Right on the phone.Now she's showing us a Samsung camera with a panoramic photo that it stitches together using software. it has a thing on the HUD that steers the direction she should point the camera. From the phone she was able to upload it to the net on the fly.
IE8 and Windows Live go together well. "Communicating and Sharing". People complain about being overloaded, with too many places to keep up with (Youtube, Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, etc). Windows Live pull all the info from your contacts here. IE8 has context sensitive options for text on the page, so you can translate in the page on the fly and see what happens. These are called accelerators. Clicking through to photos seems to let you see slideshows and all sorts of other stuff. They seem to have social partnerships with pretty much everyone who has an API.
Next up Hotmail!
7:05 - Jumplist are accessible off of the Taskbar, they put app-specific recent options in the UI in a very accessible way. this is something that seems very power user-y for a demo. Next, she's talking about home networks - 50% of households in the US have more than 1 PC. In Windows 7, Homegroup will setup a home network in 3 steps, giving you easy access to other PCs and devices, without fooling with user accounts and permissions. She can access other PCs and play music, view photos, etc. She can control playback on multiple devices, I assume using UPNP or something.
7:00 - Partners have sold more than 20M Windows Mobile phones. Verizon will offer Live Search on all phones in the US. Is that really a good feature? I wonder if the facebook integration means that the Windows address book will pull from Facebook. Now Charlotte Jones is demoing Winodws 7, Windows Live, and Windows Mobile. Robbie Back - from the entertainment group will be after her.
She's talking about Life Wihtout Walls. Her desktop has a bunch of windows open, between 5 and 15 for a typical user. IT's easier to move between them on the taskbar. This is something that crrently sucks on pretty much every OS, including OS X. Lower right corner lets you peek through the windows and see your desktop. You can move around your PC quicker and easier.
6:58 - Windows Live Essentials - Mail, Messenger, Phone - available worldwide, and works on everything XP, Vista, and Windows 7 Beta. Partnership with Facebook. Will deliver the best social experience wiht half a billion Windows Live users. Facebook stuff will audomatically be published to Windows Live if you want. Windows Live Essentials will be on all Dell's consumer and SMB PCs.
7:00 - The things that made Windows work, the "special sauce". Microsoft is going to break down barriers and transform what Windows is. It's going to move from a PC operating system to all sorts of other stuff in the cloud, on mobile, and in embedded. He's excited about Windows 7. They're saying it's going to be the best version of Windows ever. They always say that though.
Windows 7 will make everyday tasks faster, easier, boot more quickly, have longer battery life, and fewer alerts. It wll make your media better. It will enable cool new user interface stuff, like touch. Beta is being released today, TechNet and MSDN customers can get Windows 7 right now. 2 days from now the beta will be available online for all users.
6:50 - Windows is the thing that's going to make all this happen. Windows is the language that more than 1B people speak, in every culture around the world. Windows is nothing without the hardware it runs on. They're trying to bring that same synergy to phones by working with the incredible folks in the hardware ecosystem. They're rolling a video with all the phones and PCs now. The laptops they're showing are a veritable best and worst of PC design. I love using novel materials in PCs, but some of these simply don't make sense. The new HTC high-resolution Windows Mobile phones look promising. I can't wait to see how ifast it's running on the show floor tomorrow. Steve's talking about how there are really PCs at every price point and for every budget. That, I think we can all agree on. Steve is a PC, and proud of it.
Next up, the future of Windows
6:45 - The big message seems to be that they have work to do to bring computing to everyone in the world. TVs should be computers, convergence is a word he's used a lot. Tech is converging on three screens: the phone, the PC, and the TV. They're becoming a single seamless ecosystem. 1B mobile phones are sold each year, and they're the first computing experience for most people. Smart phones will make up 50% of the mobile phone market. The TV is the oldest screen. The resolution is better, but the capabilities are the same. TVs will be more connected and capable, and the boundary between TV and computer will dissolve. The second thing they're working on is sound and visual interfaces for these devices. Speech, gestures, handwriting will become normal way of interaction. Keyboaard and mouse aren't going away, but everything's going to become more natural. Final opportunity is connected interface. Most of your electronics are disconnected: phone, camera, web, are all separate. That's starting to change, but it's going to get better still More in a sec.
6:40 - Here comes Steve! He's talking about Bill's transition, and the charity work that the Gates Foundation does.They's showing screens from the next version of Windows Mobile as an aside. It looks very slick. He's going to talk about the economy, the computer industry, and the prospects for the next year. "We're all feeling it, and it's impact will be with us for some time." Steve sounds like he's yelling. I guess this is the way he always sounds. The message is that we shouldn't scale back our optimism or innovation. "Digital lives will only continue to get richer"
6:35 - Steve Ballmer's up next. We're watching another video, this time featuring happy looking people using computers set to uptempo club music.
6:25 - The best beatboxers I've ever seen are on stage now. Surprisingly, I'm not being facetious. They're integrating CES into their art, which has made them about 30% less entertaining. They video that's running in the background is pretty impressive. People walk from screen to screen, everything's all sync'd up and stuff.
The president of the CEA is onstage now. Be back in a moment.
6:16 -- Keynote begins in 15 mintues! We're here!