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CES: Conan O'Brien takes the limelight in Gates' keynote

By Paul Trotter, Las Vegas

Posted on 6 Jan 2005 at 16:20

'Gadgets are no longer just for geeks... they're also for nerds and dweebs,' joked Conan O'Brien, the presenter of the mock talk show that opened Wednesday's CES keynote speech.

And what better nerd to invite as his number one guest than Bill Gates?

It was a brave move by Microsoft's PR machine to pit their boss against the Late Night host.

Although Gates often struggled to cope with O'Brien's sarcastic retorts, this was an unlikely tie up that entertained the hundreds of visitors on Wednesday night. And that's despite the fact that no killer gadget was announced.

Where in previous years, Gates has used his CES keynote to reveal famous and infamous concepts - such as the Xbox, the Tablet PC, the SPOT watch and the Smartphone - this year he focused on how a current product, Windows Media Center, could become an even more important tool in the home.

Gates said the PC is where many of the various gadgets on show at CES would come together, controlling music, photos, TV, communication and gaming. See CES: Bill Gates promises more Microsoft muscle for entertainment media

But like so many keynotes, the blue screen of death hampered Microsoft's impressive vision of a simple, connected lifestyle.

In a demonstration designed to show how easy it is to use a soon-to-be release Nikon wireless camera, a Media Center Edition PC froze. It was a glitch that set O'Brien up perfectly.

'Right now, nine people are being fired,' joked the Late Night host. 'Is someone gonna do something or do we just carry on?'

A demonstration of the Forza Motor Sport game also froze later on in the keynote.

'We predicted at the beginning of the decade that the digital approach would be taken for granted - but there was a lot of work to do,' said Gates.

Unfortunately for Microsoft, Gates' keynote proved that consumers remain vulnerable to the whims of the Windows platform.

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