Bill Gates used his keynote opening speech at this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas to focus on new products made by Microsoft's partners including TiVo and LG Electronics.
The Microsoft chief software architect has used CES in previous years to unveil the Xbox and Tablet PC. But this year delegates looking for major news from Microsoft went back to their Las Vegas hotels disappointed.
The focus on partnerships shows a humbler Microsoft realising that it has to co-operate to succeed in the consumer electronics market, according to Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.
"It shows a level of flexibility that Microsoft hasn't shown; a notion that Microsoft has to interoperate with other stuff that's out there," he said.
Gates's announcement of a partnership with TiVo was one of the most telling signs of this change in emphasis, Enderle explained. The deal would previously have been unlikely because the personal video recorder is a direct competitor to Windows XP Media Center Edition.
TiVo launched a service called TiVoToGo immediately before CES, allowing users to transfer video content from their recorder to a computer or mobile phone.
Gates said that the deal sealed with Microsoft guarantees that TiVoToGo content will play on any device equipped with Windows Media Player 10.
"Media Center and TiVo definitely compete head to head in some aspects," Aaron Woodman, Microsoft's lead programme manager of consumer strategy told vnunet.com. "But we never want to leave consumers out because of that."
The keynote address was also used to unveil a partnership between Microsoft and LG Electronics.
The Korean electronics manufacturer will equip its DVD recorders with Microsoft digital rights management technology, enabling them to share content with a computer running Windows XP through a wired or wireless network. This effectively takes away the need for separate media adapters, according to Gates.
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