Skip to comments.Gates' P.C. Crashes at Vegas Show (What Happens in Vegas, Doesn't Stay in Vegas)
Posted on 01/06/2005 4:52:59 PM PST by Paleo Conservative
Despite suffering technical glitches that prompted jokes and guffaws, Bill Gates promised Wednesday that Microsoft Corp. would help millions of consumers stay seamlessly plugged into a world of digital music, movies, video games and television shows.
In his seventh annual keynote speech at the annual International Consumer Electronics Show, Microsoft's chairman explained that the proliferation of broadband Internet access and the falling price of data storage are compelling people to put music, photos, movies and other aspects of their life into a digital format.
"We predicted at the beginning of this decade that this would be a decade where the digital approach would be taken for granted," Gates told hundreds of technologists who gathered for his kickoff to the world's largest electronics show. "It's going even faster than we expected." But while promoting what he calls the "digital lifestyle," Gates showed how vulnerable all consumers - even the world's richest man - are to hardware and software bugs.
During a demonstration of digital photography with a soon-to-be-released Nikon camera, a Windows Media Center PC froze and wouldn't respond to Gates' pushing of the remote control.
Later in the 90-minute presentation, a product manager demonstrated the ostensible user-friendliness of a video game expected to hit retail stores in April, Forza Motor Sport. But instead of configuring a custom-designed race car, the computer monitor displayed the dreaded "blue screen of death" and warned, "out of system memory."
The errors which came during what's usually an ode to Microsoft's dominance of the software industry and its increasing control of consumer electronics - prompted the celebrity host, NBC comedian Conan O'Brien, to quip, "Who's in charge of Microsoft, anyway?"
Gates, who was sitting next to O'Brien on a set staged to look like NBC's Late Night set, smiled dryly and continued with his discussion.
Gates also announced several partnerships with telecommunication companies such as SBC Communications Inc. and television networks.
Microsoft and music network MTV last month inked a deal that will eventually allow people to send cable programs from rock, pop and country music channels and Comedy Central to their laptops, hand-held computers and other devices.
Gates also announced that Korea's LG Electronics SA, the owner of Zenith Electronics, would build a DVD player recorder using Microsoft's digital video recording software. The product, which will be available in the fall, will attach to a television so users can record live shows onto a DVD.
Although he accepted guffaws from audience members in the theater, the technical hiccups didn't prompt Gates to engage in a hard-hitting analysis of computer reliability and security. Power outages, hardware failures and software bugs often inexplicably humble those who strive for a Windows-based digital lifestyle, and world's most popular operating system is also a favorite target of hackers, virus writers, spies and spammers.
"We've had a fair share of success and a fair share of things we've had to do version two and three of," said Gates.
Gates downplaying his company's shortcomings isn't surprising. He founded the company to create software for the budding niche of personal computers in the early '80s.
But now senior executives are eager to get a piece of the $108 billion consumer electronics market in the United States, now dominated by Asian brands such as Sony, Samsung, Panasonic and LG Electronics. It will likely take Microsoft years to understand the consumer electronics market and produce simple, glitch-free products for consumers' living rooms, analysts say.
"Microsoft was founded by programmers and is still run by programmers, and the bias of programmers is that software can do anything," said Paul DeGroot, an analyst at Kirkland, Wash.-based Directions on Microsoft. "While Microsoft's goal is to turn the PC into a superhub that does everything - plays music, works as a cell phone, stores your photos - they're running up against the fact that most people buy discreet components that do particular things."
© 2005 Associated Press.
Hey Bill, welcome to *our* world.
That's happened to him before. There's a pic out there with him standing in front of a BSOD on the mainscreen.
Wasn't it with a Win98 debut?
Isn't there a video of Gates demostrating how Windows 98 can crash when plugging in a USB device?
I saw the exact same thing happen to Steve Jobs during an Apple key note address a couple of years ago. Turns out the batteries in Job's remote were dead. Pretty embarrassing for him, though.
Imagine that! My Windows programs never freeze.
Big difference in dead batteries causing a remote to fail and software that is so buggy one considers it a good day when something doesn't go wrong. However, we all love to see CEO's go down at a marketing event (unless of course it happens to be you or your boss using your gear!!)
I miss my Amiga.
Win95 debut... just a small preview of what was later to come.
I find it interesting that MS doesn't have Gates' major presentations on redundant "hot spare" systems so that if one fails the other seamlessly handles the task.
Love the hubris bug, too. But I agree with Gates that
cheap digital is the tsunami of tech.
If he'd been savvy (not just smart), he would have turned
his ''wardrobe/machine malfunction'' into a positive, saying
how he identifies with the common guy.
Couldn't happen to a nicer guy....
Yeppir. I forget exactly what he's demonstrating, but there's a video of it on the net. USB ports were what finally drove me away from Windows. After I started digital photography, I had to plug and unplug USB ports a lot for downloading. Win98 couldn't deal with it, 2000 didn't have decent support at the time, so I upgraded to ME, which was probably the worst iteration of Windows ever made. Every time I'd unplug a USB device, the system would lock up or it would lose connection with the USB ports. I'd have to delete the USB ports and then reboot the system, because trying to install the device through the device manager didn't work.
I switched to Mac, and have not been sorry. It was a pretty scary step, considering I had to buy either new or upgrades to Photoshop, Illustrator, Office, and Macromedia, but it's been the most cost-effective computer purchase I've ever made. I've been using the system coming up on two years, and except for installing an Airport extreme card, I haven't had to spend another penny on it.
That being said, I have a lot of respect for MS. Nobody builds a company that big without doing a lot of things correctly. I just don't like their products.
Windows Media Center is a good operating system for high end laptops. My brother has a Toshiba that came with Pentium IV, a gigabyte of RAM, and Windows Media Center. It is great for giving presentations and as an entertainment center on the road.
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