Gates' message to the world: Let me entertain youMicrosoft
may have been badly beaten by Apple Computer
and the iPod
music player, but when it comes to video, Chairman Bill Gates
is out to prove his company won't be beat again. In his address at the International Consumer Electronics Show Gates described Microsoft's view of a digital media landscape in which Microsoft has a hand in nearly all forms of consumer digital media consumption. Sharing the stage with late-night TV talk-show host Conan O'Brien, Gates spelled out an ambitious vision for the coming years. "We predicted at the beginning of the decade that this would be the decade that the digital approach would be taken for granted, whether it's photos or music or communicating. And there was a lot work to do," Gates said. Gates and O'Brien demonstrated several aspects of the PC-centric digital entertainment universe, in a way that focuses more on mobility and entertainment than ever before. "The PC has a central role to play, because that's where it all comes together, but it won't be the only device," Gates said. "No scenario can be delivered unless all the devices are coming together." Microsoft might beat Apple with a video download service. Gates disclosed that Microsoft's MSN Internet service will be add a video download service that will offer content playable on several mobile devices running Microsoft software, including portable media centers from companies like Creative Labs - and Samsung and Pocket PC-branded PDAs from the likes of Dell and Hewlett-Packard. The service will include video content from several major media companies, including General Electric's NBC and CNBC, News Corp.'s Fox Sports, and cable networks like E.W. Scripps Fine Living TV, the Do It Yourself network, and Home and Garden TV. Another content deal is coming from Viacom, which will bring programming from MTV, VH1 and the country-music network CMT. Gates also introduced a deal with TiVo, maker of the popular digital TV recorder, that will allow TiVo customers using the TiVo2 service to take the shows they record with them on portable devices, including PocketPCs and portable media centers. He announced that BellSouth is Microsoft's latest partner in its Internet Protocol TV initiative to deliver TV programming to set-top boxes using the Internet. Microsoft has previously signed IPTV-related deals with SBC Communications. Lee Ann Champion, an SBC vice president, demonstrated how using IPTV may give telecom companies a shot at offering TV services in competition with the cable providers. She said customers of SBC's forthcoming service will be able to watch multiple streams of high-definition TV. Champion demonstrated how programming may change under IPTV, showing how viewers watching baseball will be able to select several different viewing angles of live game. She also showed how customers of the service will be able to program their digital video recorders (DVRs) from a cell phone.
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