Bill Gates told the assembled masses at his CES keynote in Las Vegas earlier today that the future is all about ‘connected entertainment’.
Gates, assisted by Microsoft's entertainment guru, Robbie Bach, introduced a new Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) service for 360 – to launch later this year (in association with AT&T in the US, and BT in the UK) – and also announced that Live play between Vista and 360 will also be made available this year.
While ‘the future is all about connected entertainment’ is hardly a shocking revelation, when Mr. Gates decides he wants to talk a little about the future, we listen carefully.
Firstly, some details on the IPTV service just in from Microsoft’s official press release:
“The integration of a video gaming console with Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) services is intended to deliver a first-of-its-kind entertainment experience. IPTV on Xbox 360 is expected to give consumers all the advantages of an advanced TV service along with the benefits of next-generation gaming, as well as unique new capabilities that the integrated solution brings. Xbox Live, the largest online social network in the living room, will be seamlessly integrated into the experience, providing consumers with a wide range of community-based features, such as voice chat, sending and receiving text and voice messages, and accessing Xbox Live Marketplace, all while watching TV. For example, while a TV viewer is enjoying his favorite football game, he can receive a message from a friend inviting him to a join voice chat while watching the game, or to play a game of their own with EA SPORTS 'Madden NFL 07' on Xbox Live.”
Gates went on to give a quick hands-on with Vista, which launches on 30th January, while Robbie Bach talked Zune, mobiles and gaming.
Bach confirmed that Microsoft has met its (revised at E3 in 2006) target to sell 10 million Xbox 360’s by Dec 31st 2006, having sold 10.4 million by that date (though whether these are units ‘shipped’ or ‘sold through’ was not made clear).
Bach was also keen to stress that Xbox Live now has 5 million members, and that over 2.7 million copies of Gears of War have been sold to date, claiming that:
"We're setting records every step of the way for a console at this stage of its lifecycle…[Gears of War] is now a Halo-like franchise."
Next up, more news on the ‘Live on Windows’ service launching later this year.