From Newsweek: It’s hard to remember a time when it seemed weird for Bill Gates to be speaking at the Consumer Electronics Show. But when he started doing keynotes in the early ’90s, Microsoft was known as a software company, not a CES stalwart that made DVD players, TVs and car audio. Gates’s taking center stage was then a sign that the PC was broadening its horizons into people’s lifestyles, and Microsoft was positioning itself to lead the charge. Now, of course, after 11 appearances–eight on the eve of the show’s formal opening–the Bill Gates keynote is a fixture here. Someone was quoted last week as saying that he’s like the pope of the industry–which would make his regular Sunday-night presentation the benediction that blesses the orgy of commerce to follow. But this year’s appearance marks an ending. Gates is leaving his full-time work at Microsoft this summer, and 2008 will be the last time he kicks off CES.
Not that I expected a weepy departure. Gates is unsentimental about stuff like this. For him a speech is all about the logistics of which Microsoft goodies to include, and the standard hope that the demos won’t crash. This year’s version was clearly in keeping with his tradition, a heaping helping of high-tech comfort food.