Microsoft's Chairman Bill Gates and the company's President of Entertainment & Devices Division Robbie Bach have unveiled several new entertainment services and partnerships at the 2008 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. These partnerships include new deals with Disney-ABC Television Group, NBC Universal and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. (MGM),
In his 11th CES opening keynote address, Gates looked at the sweeping changes since 2001 that have created what he referred to as the first 'true Digital Decade'. These changes included the growing prevalence of broadband networks, the spread of mobile phones and the advent of portable digital media devices.
"Since I first started talking about the Digital Decade in 2001, the speed with which digital technology has become central to the way we work, learn and play has been amazing," Gates said.
"But in many ways, we are at the very beginning of the transformation that software will enable. During the next Digital Decade, technology will make our lives richer, more connected, more productive and more fulfilling in profound and exciting ways."
Gates went on to outline his vision for the next Digital Decade ? an era in which he claimed dramatic advances in hardware and software will make the power of computing a ubiquitous part of day-to-day life. Gates referenced how natural user interfaces will more closely reflect the way people interact with each other, high-definition experiences will be nearly everywhere and services-connected devices running on the Web and huge amounts of storage accessible via the Internet will mean that information and capabilities people want will be available instantly and seamlessly, no matter where they are.
Gates also announced that Microsoft and NBC will deliver NBCOlympics.com on MSN. In what Gates called the first "long-tail" Olympics, online viewers will have access to more than 3,000 hours of live and on-demand content. NBCOlympics.com on MSN will be available free and powered by Microsoft Silverlight technology, a cross-browser, cross-platform plug-in for delivering high-quality video experiences on the Web.
Robbie Bach announced that programmes from ABC Television and Disney Channel will join the Xbox Live programming available for download directly to the Xbox 360 console. In addition, MGM will bring its library of movies.
Under the agreement with Disney-ABC Television Group, later this month, all U.S. Xbox LIVE members will begin to have access to select TV shows and movies from the ABC Television Network, ABC Family, ABC News, Disney Channel and Toon Disney. More than 500 hours of content will be available in both standard definition and high definition when available.
Xbox 360 will also offer MGM's movie library on demand, United Artists, an MGM sister company, will also make select films available on demand.
In the UK, subscribers to BT's broadband services will be able to use the Xbox 360 to access BT Vision's VOD offering.
Dan Marks, BT Vision CEO, said: "We are pleased to partner with Microsoft to deliver a truly compelling connected entertainment experience to our customers. For the first time consumers in the UK will be able to experience the advantages of an advanced TV service together with the benefits of next generation gaming. Our aim is to provide BT Vision on multiple platforms—giving customers greater convenience, control and flexibility over what they watch, when they watch and how they watch TV. It also means that we are able to potentially expand our BT Vision customer base by tapping into the popularity of Xbox 360."
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