Gates to deliver CES keynote

During Microsoft crunch period.

Microsoft chairman Bill Gates will deliver one of three keynote addresses to the 2007 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas next January.

The keynote, taking place on January 7th, will be Gates' ninth and possibly one of his most important, as Microsoft faces significant challenges on several fronts.

Microsoft's console business will face renewed challenge following the respective November and Q4 launches of rival PlayStation 3 and Wii formats, and the company will be looking to energise its software base with the 2007 launch of the Windows Vista operating system.

Widespread reports, anchored in the Seattle technology press, also suggest Microsoft will be launching a significant offensive in digital-media, with the release of the "Argo" media device and associated software and services anticipated before the end of the year.

Previous Gates keynotes at CES have included significant games division announcements and with PlayStation 3 and Wii certain to be on the market by next January, 2007's will likely be no exception.

During his keynote in January of this year, Gates solidified Microsoft's backing of the next-generation HD-DVD format with the announcement of an external Xbox 360 HD-DVD drive - due out before the end of 2006.

He even snuck in a couple of software announcements, revealing that Texas Hold 'Em poker and Street Fighter II: Hyper Fighting would be making an appearance on Xbox Live Arcade during 2006. (The latter has now been confirmed for release on August 2nd.)

And interest in Gates' keynote is only likely to have been intensified by the recent announcement that he plans to draw back from the day to day running of Microsoft in July 2008 to work full-time for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Gates' January 2007 address will be one of three CES keynotes - with Motorola chairman and CEO Ed Zander, and Roger Iger, president and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, also set to deliver speeches.

The 2007 International Consumer Electronics Show takes place between January 8th and 11th.

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