Microsoft chair Bill Gates kicked off the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas Sunday unveiling new products for a world full of connected devices for real-time, personalised content delivery.
Microsoft has been promoting the idea of a connected home, where multiple devices can access and share multimedia content stored on a PC or a central server hub, for some time, but so far only the most savvy or wealthy technology enthusiasts have realised even a piece of that vision.
But Gates’ keynote tried to show how Microsoft can help more people access the technology and expand digital connectedness outside of the home.
Gates presented a world of real-time touchscreens or devices that can deliver everything from recipes that come up on a kitchen counter that is also a screen, to public transportation information that appears on a bus-stop kiosk while a person is waiting for the next bus.
"It's an environment where people want to do things across multiple devices working with many other people," Gates said, describing Microsoft's idea not just for a connected home but for a connected world. "I want my music when I'm in the car, when I'm at home, when I'm in the living room. I want that to be simple. I want my family schedule and the ease of updating it from the phone or PC, touching something on the refrigerator…I want to have the experience to connect up with people at work as well as at home. You can't even say consumer because the experiences span into that business environment."
Gates insisted that his vision is only several years off as Microsoft and its partners continue to deliver enabling products.
The debut of Windows Home Server is also aimed at helping consumers establish a more connected home and have access to their data from multiple devices no matter where they are. Windows Home Server will not be sold directly to consumers, but will be used by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) such as HP as the basis for new hardware that consumers can put in their homes to connect their Windows Vista computers.
Users with a broadband connection and more than one computer or device that has an internet connection can access data stored on Windows Home Server. It also will provide data security and automatically back up data every night.
Nancy Gohring contributed to this story.