LAS VEGAS–Having succeeded in getting PCs into most American’s homes, Bill Gates now wants people to bring in a server.
As part of his keynote Sunday, Gates is showing off Windows Home Server–a consumer device to serve as a central storage place for digital photos, music and other media. The first products are due out later this year from Hewlett-Packard and others. The goal is to get devices that can cost less than $500.
In the first of a two-part interview, Microsoft’s chairman talks with CNET News.com about why the average person wants a server, why they won’t need a degree in computer science to run it and some of the hurdles that remain before we reach the true digital home.
Coming Monday, in part two, Gates talks about the changes that are coming with Windows Vista, the legacy of Windows XP and what he has planned for the next makeover of his own digital living room.
Q: One of the things you are talking about at CES is a new home server? Why does the average home need a server?
In fact you get redundancy so that even if you have physical failures you have recoverability.
Does that mean that every home is going to need a server administrator? Gates: No it’s important to look hard at what the focus of that devices has been, which is the easy setup and no ongoing need to worry about it at all. Remote access has been hard to set up. We’ve focused in on that. Making it so that it is all recoverable has been hard. Adding storage has been hard. We feel great about what we’ve done in this product. We think it is a real leadership product. Homes with multiple PCs will find it very attractive.
Having the right hardware is obviously one piece of the puzzle. In terms of getting the types of things that people want to share across the home, one of the keys is content. Are things where they need to be yet? Is Hollywood where it needs to be?
In terms of the idea of a home server, is this really mainstream? How long is it before 10 percent, say, of households have a home server?
We don’t know the volume, but we think it enables some scenarios, and it will be a good business for us. Obviously, a lot of the technology we use there we get to use in servers that are used in business-type environments as well.
You’re talking about Microsoft’s traditional approach where you guys do the software and other folks do the hardware. Do companies like Apple that do both the hardware and the software, do they have any kind of advantage when it comes to entertainment-type scenarios?
If you want to point to why the Windows PC has become such a successful, central thing, that enabling of partners, including all those great hardware partners, I’d say that’s been very big.
Here you see Toshiba doing SideShow (A Vista feature that enables a secondary display). You see Sony doing this beautiful Media Center, living room-type device. You see HP bringing in this touch-screen capability on a very nice form factor. This show kind of gives you a sense that the world needs variety when there are hundreds of millions of these things that are being sold.
Does Microsoft need to tie more of its entertainment products together? For instance, you have a media center that can record television. Shouldn’t I be able to get that content and take it with me on the Zune?
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