During the 2008 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates and Microsoft President of the Entertainment & Devices Division Robbie Bach unveiled several new entertainment services and partnerships, including new deals with Disney-ABC Television Group, NBC Universal and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. (MGM).
In his 11th CES opening keynote address, Gates looked at the changes since 2001 that have created what he called the first true Digital Decade, including the continued expansion of the popularity of Windows-based PCs, the growing prevalence of broadband networks, the spread of mobile phones and the advent of portable digital media devices.
"Since I first started talking about the Digital Decade in 2001, the speed with which digital technology has become central to the way we work, learn and play has been amazing," Gates said. "But in many ways, we are at the very beginning of the transformation that software will enable. During the next Digital Decade, technology will make our lives richer, more connected, more productive and more fulfilling in profound and exciting ways."
Gates went on to outline his vision for the next Digital Decade - an era in which dramatic advances in hardware and software will make the power of computing a ubiquitous part of day-to-day life. Gates referenced how natural user interfaces will more closely reflect the way people interact with each other. High-definition experiences will be nearly everywhere. Services-connected devices running on the Web and huge amounts of storage accessible via the Internet will mean that information and capabilities people want will be available instantly and seamlessly, no matter where they are.
Microsoft announced an agreement with NBC Universal that will see the companies delivering NBCOlympics.com on MSN, the official U.S. online home of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. In the first "long-tail" Olympics, online viewers will have access to more than 3,000 hours of live and on-demand content so they can watch their favorite athlete or sport, regardless of whether the sport has seven fans or 7 million.
NBCOlympics.com on MSN will be available free and powered by Microsoft Silverlight technology, a cross-browser, cross-platform plug-in for delivering high-quality video experiences on the Web.
Also announced was a licensing deal with ABC Television and Disney Channel that will join the Xbox Live programming available for download directly to the Xbox 360 console.
Under the agreement with Disney-ABC Television Group, later this month all U.S. Xbox LIVE members will begin to have access to select TV shows and movies from the ABC Television Network, ABC Family, ABC News, Disney Channel and Toon Disney.
More than 500 hours of content, in both standard definition and high definition when available, will be offered including hit ABC Television shows "Lost," "Grey's Anatomy," "Ugly Betty" and "Desperate Housewives." Past and current ABC shows will be available on demand, with new episodes arriving on the service the day after they air on television.
Microsoft will also offer MGM's movie library on demand for Xbox 360 including such titles as "Rocky," "Terminator," "Legally Blonde," "Silence of the Lambs" and "Barbershop." United Artists, an MGM sister company, will also make select films available on demand.
Adding to the entertainment momentum, Bach announced that Zune will be available in Canada in spring 2008, the first time the family of digital music players will be available outside the U.S.
During the keynote, Gates talked about the ongoing transformation of the personal computer and shared sales figures for Windows Vista indicating that more than 100 million Windows Vista licenses were sold to date.