“Digital Lifestyle” keynote challenges Gates

January 9, 2005


When a Windows Media PC froze during a slide show demonstration hosted by Microsoft's chairman Bill Gates, at CES 2005, NBC's Conan O'Brien quipped, “Right now, nine people are being fired.”

In his seventh annual keynote speech at CES last week in Las Vegas, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates told the audience how his company would use the personal computer to help millions of consumers stay seamlessly plugged into a world of television shows, movies, video games and digital music.

However, as many consumers have discovered, the dream of the digital lifestyle is easier imagined than lived. As laughter erupted among knowing audience members, Gates was left repeatedly pressing buttons on a remote control when his Windows Media PC froze during a slide show demonstration.

Later in the 90-minute presentation, a product manager demonstrated the ostensible user-friendliness of an Xbox video game— Forza Motor Sport —expected to hit retail stores in April. Instead of configuring a custom-designed race car, the computer monitor displayed the dreaded “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 influence over consumer electronics — prompted the celebrity host, NBC Comedian Conan O’Brien, to quip, “Right now, nine people are being fired. Who’s in charge of Microsoft, anyway?”

Gates, who was sitting next to O’Brien on a stage made to look like NBC’s "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" set, smiled dryly and continued to tout Microsoft’s push to let consumers experience digital media anywhere they want it.

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