Microsoft’s New OS at Electronics Conference

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Microsoft’s Bill Gates talked up Vista, the company’s new operating system (formerly known as Longhorn), in a speech that commenced the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week. He touted the forthcoming OS—slated for release sometime toward the end of this year—as being oriented toward individual customers and their personal needs in the home, and also demonstrated some of its capabilities for the audience.


Gates explained that Vista would be designed to make the personal computer the focal point of the digital home, in which all electronic appliances work together seamlessly in a cutting-edge entertainment schema. Microsoft is clearly angling for Vista to be at the forefront of this trend. “Now, we talk about this as the decade of digital lifestyles, the decade of digital workstyles,” Gates said. “That means that all these tools are becoming mainstream. And it’s not just one application that makes it happen. It’s not just banking or advertising, or filling out your tax return, or even instant messaging. It’s the fact that as you adopt those things they really go together, and it becomes more and more familiar to work in that fashion.


“The software industry is stepping up and doing software that uses the Internet in new ways, reaches out to users, creates communities, works across devices, and us building a platform to make that easy for those people to do,” he added. “(T)his all has to work across these devices, whether it’s calling people, seeing their presence, knowing what they’re interested in, making it easy for them to navigate; it’s got to be user centric, and that’s a big theme that’s going to make these things a lot simpler.” (Source: Microsoft)


Vista will include a three-dimensional user interface and improved multimedia tools like Windows Media Player 11 and new Web browser Internet Explorer 7. It also will support high-definition video with “CableCard” technology and feature enhanced editing and storing capabilities for photographs. Additionally, the OS tightens parents’ control over their kids’ Web surfing and use of other applications with various regulation functions.


Gates’ presentation was long on spectacle, with a cameo appearance by pop star Justin Timberlake as well a brief videogame competition between the Microsoft founder and current CEO Steve Ballmer. The two re-created the famous “Thrilla in Manila” bout using EA Sports’ Fight Night, a boxing video game. Ballmer, who played as Joe Frazier, “lost” to Gates, who played as Muhammed Ali, in what some observers believed was the most fixed fight since, oh, whatever the most recent real-life boxing match was. I guess Mel Brooks was right: “It’s good to be the king.”


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