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Last Updated: Monday, 8 January 2007, 05:44 GMT
Bill Gates hails 'digital decade'
By Darren Waters
Technology editor, BBC News website, Las Vegas

Bill Gates in Las Vegas on 7 January
Mr Gates said "connected experiences" were key

Microsoft boss Bill Gates has outlined his vision of the connected future, telling experts in Las Vegas: "The digital decade is happening."

Mr Gates was speaking on the eve of the world's largest hi-tech conference, the Consumer Electronics Show.

He told delegates that "connected experiences" were now the most important part of new technologies.

"Young people spend more time with their Windows PC than watching TV," he said.

People want to do things with their content across multiple platforms
Bill Gates

In a speech with few concrete announcements, Mr Gates outlined how his firm's latest operating system Vista would be the tool to connect people.

"People want to do things with their content across multiple platforms," he said.

He said the hardware and content had been put in place "and the key thing missing is the connections".

As part of the keynote presentation, Mr Gates invited other Microsoft executives on to the stage to explain how products connected people.

Justin Hutchinson, group product manager, demonstrated a range of new features in Vista, many of which seemed designed to counter arguments from some observers that Apple was the home of creative computing.

IPTV pledge

New features unveiled included a document back-up tool called shadow copy, a new DVD photo gallery tool and a piece of software which corrects mistakes in digital photographs.

Robbie Bach, president of entertainment devices at Microsoft, revealed that the company had sold more than 10.4m Xbox 360s by the end of 2006.

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Bill's speech talked of connected experiences, but it lacked a bit of zing
Darren Waters,
BBC News website tech editor

Mr Bach told delegates that Microsoft's work in developing IPTV (internet protocol TV), which allows programmes to be delivered live or on demand over an internet connection, would soon come to Xbox 360 games consoles.

By the end of 2007 partner companies will be offering IPTV services to Xbox 360 owners, he said.

Mr Gates also unveiled a new product in conjunction with HP which lets people store all their data on a central device and access from any number of Windows-connected products, including the Zune portable music player, the Xbox 360, PCs and phones.

The Windows Home Server is a storage system which can hold more than one terabyte of data.

Last keynote speech

Photos, music and videos can be saved to the system and accessed from many other devices in the home and even remotely via the internet.

HP is launching the first product designed around Windows Home Server software, called the HP Media Smart Server.

A range of new PCs from third-party companies using Vista were unveiled at the show, including a white, round media centre PC from Sony designed for watching of movies and music playback in the living room and a touch screen PC from HP.

Mr Gates also confirmed that next year would see his last keynote speech at CES as he steps down as head of Microsoft.

He said he had offered to come back the following year but that he might "talk more about infectious diseases than software", referring to his philanthropic work.

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