Gates Pitches CES Crowd on Vistas Content Handling

Windows Vista will pack a wide range of content-savvy features, including photo editing and image search as well as new Live services, Bill Gates says during his CES keynote address.

LAS VEGAS—Microsoft Corp. wants to make sure its forthcoming Windows Vista operating system wont be all show and no go.

To that end, Bill Gates, the companys chairman and chief software architect, demonstrated Vistas ability to offer consumers what he says is a more immersive experience. The venue was his annual keynote address that opens the International Consumer Electronics Show here.

Thus Gates, assisted by several other Microsoft executives, touted numerous Vista features, such as a built-in photo editor that can quickly touch up digital photos before they can be shared—also maintaining an original should a user want to go back.

The content and other applications will arrive along with the operating system and smooth over gaps between common consumer-oriented computing tasks, ranging from viewing Web content or broadcast television to sharing photos and listening to music on PCs and numerous other devices.

"Software will come in and make things both simpler and more effective … in picking the music you want and finding out more about that artist," for example, Gates said.

This consumer-focused goal extends beyond the Windows Vista release. Indeed, progress in software development, Gates said, could create scenarios in which people take news feeds with them by transferring files from a television screen to a cell phone—something that could become reality by the end of the decade. In addition, users could stay connected by accessing their personal calendars and other information via remote desktops at airport lounges, he said.

The company, in the interim, will concentrate on pairing more consumer-friendly features and services with Windows.

Vista will also include numerous other content-centric interface features, including a beefed-up search function that can show numerous thumbnail photos and then pop up larger versions when a user moves the cursor over them, or offer up album covers to help represent music files.


ExtremeTech gets up close and personal with Windows Vista, Build 5270, released in late December.

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The photo editing and search features are combined in what Microsoft calls Memories, which allows a user to archive and then find photos and videos, searching by date, tags or keywords, the executives said.

Microsoft has shown off many of the features, such as advanced search, before. However, Gates said they underscore a broader vision, which Gates says over the next few years will have consumers and also businesses sharing content over a variety of devices, ranging from traditional PCs to large in-home touch screens, or office displays, with the ability to shift those feeds to handhelds or even cellular phones on the go.

Thus "2006 is going to be a big year for digital lifestyle," Gates said. "Software is providing the power, but software has [also] got to provide simplicity."

Next Page: Microsoft eyes new content, services.