Will CES 2008 Live Up to the iPhone?

Microsoft chair Bill Gates has a tough job ahead of him when he kicks off the keynote speeches at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2008 in Las Vegas next week.

He'll be hard-pressed to make sure CES outshines the Macworld Conference & Expo. Last year Steve Jobs stole the technology-world spotlight at Macworld when he announced the iPhone. The news overshadowed everything at CES, and the device has been as big a hit as everyone thought it would be. He's on tap to speak again at Macworld this year, and rumors say Apple could reveal anything from its own ultramobile PC to an online movie rental service.

What will Gates announce? Last year rumors of the iPhone--and poor scheduling, with the two shows running at nearly the same time--prompted some people to skip part of CES to hear Jobs's speech at Macworld. At least this year the scheduling is better, with Macworld starting just after CES ends. But what Microsoft rumors are floating around? Vista Service Pack 1? Internet Explorer 8? The Xbox 360 might get motion-sensing game controllers so it can compete with Nintendo's Wii? Yawn.

Details on the rumored next-generation Windows OS, code-named 7, might be interesting; but since Vista is still new for most people, it's hard to guess what a new Windows OS might look like. The most exciting Microsoft rumors today are corporate, not product-oriented--namely, that the software giant might buy Yahoo or Bloomberg.

CES officially runs January 7 through 10 in Las Vegas, but Gates' keynote is on Sunday, January 6. The show is one of the largest technology expositions in the world, with companies displaying thousands of gadgets to an estimated 150,000 attendees. The Macworld expo is from January 14 through 18 in San Francisco.

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