Bill Gates has revealed more of Vista, the forthcoming replacement for Windows XP at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.
The main focus of his keynote speech and demo was the consumer side of the OS rather than the technical elements that have been at the forefront up until now.
Among the new features demonstrated are organising and sharing digital photos, and how search is integrated throughout the operating system. Gates also demonstrated for the first time a new dynamic protection service and parental controls in Internet Explorer 7, which will help protect users against malicious websites and block unsuitable content.
Also new was a feature dubbed Flip 3D - a tool that allows the user to switch quickly between open windows, as well as the Vista Sidebar that includes RSS feeds, sports cores and other such applications.
Gates also said Microsoft is investing in providing Tablet PC capabilities in Vista, and expects to make inroads this year. Microsoft launched its Tablet PC device at CES several years ago, but the product did not catch on as the company had expected.
He also announced new partnerships for apps such as Windows Media Player and Windows Live Messenger, as well as the Windows Mobile and Windows Media Center Edition OSes.
Also announced was a multi-year deal with DirectTV to stream video directly to a Windows Media Center PC, and download that content to portable devices. Microsoft also demonstrated how new Internet-based services through its Windows Live portal will let users find and sync up television content they can play on Media Center PCs.
Gates always does a futuristic demo too, and this year was no exception. He began his keynote by walking through a demonstration of a scenario he predicted is not far off in the future, where he carried customised content with him from his home to his office and even to the airport through a range of intelligent, wireless devices.
In the demo, Gates used a screen at home to transfer a report from a news channel to his cellular phone, and then used a futuristic office set-up, with a large, flat screen displaying various application interfaces, to interact with a variety of co-workers through real-time video chat while still watching the news report on the screen.
He also demonstrated a scenario at an airport where he placed his cellular phone on a flat-screen table, and information from the phone came up on the screen. By using his fingerprint, Gates was able to access information on his mobile phone and work until he had to catch his flight, with a reminder on the screen letting him know how much time he had before his plane was to depart.
The effect was certainly impressive, while not exactly realistic.