During his keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates revealed no surprises or major product announcements, but rather took the opportunity to show off more features of Windows Vista, the company's forthcoming operating system.
Microsoft has been keen to promote the system. And with its debut scheduled for fall of this year, the company seems to be increasing that push in an attempt to spark consumer and corporate interest.
Vista will be part of what Gates is calling the "decade of digital lifestyles and digital workstyles" in which technology tools will become more mainstream.
Calling 2005 a big year for the personal computer, with an 11 percent growth in Windows PCs, Gates predicted that 2006 will be even bigger with the release of Vista, Office 12, and more adoption of the Windows Media Center operating system.
Gates' comments about Vista come just days after a major flaw was discovered in the Windows XP operating system. Gartner analyst Michael Silver noted that, although Gates was eager to show off its new system rather than comment on those vulnerabilities, Vista has its own challenges that still need to be tackled before the big release.
In particular, metadata management in Vista is not adequately addressed, Silver pointed out. The metadata issue was raised toward the end of 2005 when analysts began talking about the potential loss of personal privacy as a result of the way Vista handles file-related data -- such as author names and personal notes -- that is attached to all documents created with Vista applications.
Microsoft plans to include a tool for removing the metadata, but Silver has said that the tool will not prove to be adequate for many users because it will require that users actively run the tool to clear the metadata.
"Microsoft has an increased emphasis on security and privacy," he noted. "So, issues in Vista should have been addressed deep within the operating system during development."
In addition to highlighting parts of Vista, Gates also spoke about general trends in the software industry.
He predicted that recent sales growth in PCs will drive software development, especially in the entertainment realm. As devices proliferate, the year ahead should bring more focus on making software that can work across multiple devices, Gates noted.
"So it's not just software for the PC or software for the phone or software for the videogame," he said. "It's software for the user."