Bill Gates at CES

Post ImageFor the tenth time, Bill Gates delivered the Sunday keynote at CES in Las Vegas. I watched it tonight using the live feed supplied by Microsoft. He said he’ll be back to keynote again next year, and said future years are up to the CES organizers as it’s likely he’ll talk “more about infectious diseases than software.” The theme of the keynote was “connected experiences”.

Here are some of my thoughts (for much, much more see Engadget):

  • The first demo was Windows Vista, Office 2007, and Windows Live. The full motion desktop feature in Vista is pretty cool. I think this was the first time anyone has seen “Ultimate Extras” from Windows Vista Ultimate too.
  • A new feature on Windows Live lets you fly through virtual maps using an Xbox 360 controller plugged into the computer – totally sweet!
  • As expected, Bill Gates announced Windows Home Server. Too bad they cut the feed due to “intellectual property” concerns. He did mention that the goal is simplicity, with features such as automated backup (it will find PCs on the network and back them up). The product will launch in the second half of this year.
  • Robbie Bach talked about entertainment. I love that they highlight Windows Games…I think their strategy here is brilliant (Windows + Xbox). Apparently they sold 10.4 million consoles, exceeding their target of 10 million.
  • Halo 3! Halo 3! That game is going to kick so much ass.
  • Apparently Xbox Live now has 5 million members…and it’s coming to Windows. The demo was kind of interesting – too bad they didn’t have a more hardcore game than Uno to use as the example.
  • They also demoed IPTV on Xbox 360….pretty sweet. Too bad it probably won’t be in Canada anytime soon.
  • The stuff coming from Ford and Microsoft sounds pretty neat, and Ford must be happy to have a one year exclusive deal.
  • The final stuff Bill showed, with the bus stop, the kitchen counter, and the bedroom, is wicked. Projecting screens, smart surfaces, etc. I keep telling Dickson and my other friends that it’s gonna happen. It’s only a matter of time.

Some cool stuff for sure!

Gates to become part-time Microsoft employee

Post ImageBill Gates announced today that over the next couple years he will gradually move away from his full-time duties at Microsoft, after three decades of serving as the public face of the company. Not too surprising a move, as far as I am concerned. Gates is 50 now, with young children, lots of money, and the right people at Microsoft to take it forward:

Gates announced on Thursday that he will gradually relinquish his current role, ceding the chief software architect title immediately, while remaining a full-time employee for the next two years. In July 2008, he will remain as a part-time employee and chairman.

Microsoft’s Chief Technical Officer Ray Ozzie will immediately assume the title of chief software architect, Gates said. In addition, Craig Mundie, CTO for advanced strategies and policy, will immediately take the new title of chief research and strategy officer and will assume Gates’ responsibilities for the company’s research and incubation efforts.

If there was ever a question as to why Microsoft purchased Groove, that has surely been answered now. They didn’t buy the company, they bought Ray Ozzie. He’s clearly the strategy guy moving forward.

I think this is good for Gates and for Microsoft. He can spend more time with his family and his non-profit, while Microsoft can start to bring in fresh and different ideas. He won’t be gone entirely, which is good, remaining as company chairman.

Read: CNET News.com

Time Persons of the Year

Post ImageTime announced their “person of the year” for 2005 this morning, except that it’s “persons” – three in fact. Dubbed the “The Good Samaritans”, the magazine has chosen Bill and Melinda Gates and Bono as the “Persons of the Year“. From the cover story article:

These are not the people you expect to come to the rescue.

Rock stars are designed to be shiny, shallow creatures, furloughed from reality for all time. Billionaires are even more removed, nestled atop fantastic wealth where they never again have to place their own calls or defrost dinner or fly commercial. So Bono spends several thousand dollars at a restaurant for a nice Pinot Noir, and Bill Gates, the great predator of the Internet age, has a trampoline room in his $100 million house. It makes you think that if these guys can decide to make it…

For full access to the article, you can watch a brief advertisement, otherwise you’ll have to pay a few dollars (or wait for the actual magazine to come out). I think the three make a very interesting choice. There’s no doubt that Bono is an activist unlike any other, and the Gates give more money each year than you can imagine.

Read: Time.com

The 50 Most Generous Philanthropists

Post ImageBusinessWeek has once again come up with their annual list of the 50 most generous philanthropists, and for the first time in a while, Bill and Melinda Gates do not top the list! They were unseated this year by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore and his wife Betty. From the Drudge Report:

The Moores, like a growing number of big givers, take a businesslike approach to philanthropy. Rather than throwing money at problems, they try to ensure the most productive use of their dollars by funding projects they believe can produce “significant and measurable” results. This desire for accountability is one of the most important themes in this year’s top 50 individual donors list.

The complete list and associated articles will be available in the November 28th issue of BusinessWeek which hits newstands on Monday. Looking at the top 26 on the Drudge Report page, I see that seven of them are technology-related like Microsoft, Intel, and eBay. Some of the other companies represented include Home Depot, Wal-Mart, CNN, and Bloomberg. It’s interesting to juxtapose this list with the Forbes ranking of the wealthiest people in the world. Some individuals are on both, while others are quite notably absent. I guess philanthropy isn’t for everyone though.

Read: BusinessWeek

Gates on High School Education

Post ImageMany of my friends are in, or have graduated from, the Faculty of Education. I guess that means that whether or not they become teachers, they have some interest in education, and indeed a vested interest in seeing education move forward. Yet I have often said that I don’t think the way we do things is right. I have wondered aloud to these friends that perhaps a move back to the old “master and apprentice” way of learning would be more appropriate! Today I came across these remarks from Bill Gates made back in February:

When we looked at the millions of students that our high schools are not preparing for higher education – and we looked at the damaging impact that has on their lives – we came to a painful conclusion:

America’s high schools are obsolete.

By obsolete, I don’t just mean that our high schools are broken, flawed, and under-funded – though a case could be made for every one of those points.

By obsolete, I mean that our high schools – even when they’re working exactly as designed – cannot teach our kids what they need to know today.

I’d say that’s a fair assessment. Almost since day one of my University career, I have thought there must be a better way to do this. After the first two years of University, Grade 11 and Grade 12 largely seemed like a waste of time. Or maybe not a waste of time, but an inefficient use of time. Maybe I’m just cynical, I don’t know. I know there are teachers who care, but there’s often not enough resources. And some of the things that students need, they don’t have the opportunity to obtain.

I don’t really have a suggestion for alternatives though either – I simply haven’t given it enough thought. I do know however, that I want my kids to have the best education possible. There’s so much that we could be doing in high schools that we aren’t.

Read: Bill & Melinda Gates