Gates: Windows Media Center, MSN Key To Evolving Digital Home Network

In a keynote Wednesday night at the 2005 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Gates unveiled a series of new agreements from third-party vendors and content-delivery companies to show that the rise of digital home networks continues unabated.

Save for two poorly timed glitches in technology demonstrations, Gates&' address drilled home what is becoming a ubiquitous adoption of the Microsoft Windows Media Center platform for the gamut of consumer-electronics devices and media.

"We predicted at the beginning of the decade, this would be the decade the digital approach would be taken for granted. It was a lot of work to do,” Gates said. A series of software and hardware breakthroughs now enable a wide array of video, music, photos and games to be networked throughout homes and the Internet in a manner that, until recent years, had only been discussed.

"We've certainly had our fair share of successes, and a fair share [of products where] we&'ve had to do a version two and a version three," Gates said. "We've had some huge hits."

Sponsored post

Gates&' speech paved the way to the official CES opening on Thursday. More than 130,000 attendees are expected at this year&'s event. The Microsoft co-founder has delivered the preliminary keynote for several years in a row, in the past talking about then-future Microsoft products such as Spot Watch, Media Center Edition and Tablet PC.

Key to Gates&' address was his pronouncement of MSN as a linchpin of Microsoft's expanding blueprint for remote control of the converged digital network. Later this year, Microsoft plans to deliver an MSN Remote Record function that would permit users of the online service and Windows Media Center networks to remotely, via the Internet, set their home digital video recorder (DVR) to record a television program.

Microsoft also announced that several content providers--including Discovery Network, Yahoo, XM Satellite Radio, Titan TV and Fox Sports--have agreed to tailor their content for a new MSN TV offering. Each has pledged to optimize TV directory information for use in MSN remote TV management applications on Windows Media Center, and Gates said he believed more content providers would follow suit. MTV Networks, too, has agreed to collaborate with Microsoft on content that would be optimized for management across Windows Media Center-based networks.

Lea Ann Champion, senior executive vice president at SBC Communications, also made an appearance during Gates&' keynote to demonstrate the developing IPTV technology--also based on Windows Media Center and MSN--that aims to provide enhanced delivery and remote management of television content.

Gates&' keynote was generally well-received, except for two glitches. The first occurred during an onstage gag with Conan O&'Brien, host of NBC&'s "Late Night," in which a photo slideshow failed to work. The second occurred when a Microsoft gaming developer attempted to demonstrate an Xbox racing game and the system crashed, apparently due to memory limitations.

"Right now, nine people just lost their jobs," O&'Brien cracked.