LAS VEGAS: Rather like the British monarch's Christmas address to the Commonwealth, Bill Gates' (pictured) customary appearance at the opening of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas reviews times past and voices hopes for Microsoft's future.

In this his final keynote address as chief software architect, before active retirement to the world of philanthropy, Gates pronounced the first digital decade to have been a "great success".

He added: "There's nothing holding us back from going much faster and much further in the second digital decade."

His vision of the next ten years includes PCs becoming less mouse and keyboard dependent and more responsive to sensory and intuitive technologies.

In addition, he emphasised in-car music and telephony developments - driven by Microsoft's Sync technology - and the expansion of its Xbox video game console, soon to be offering downloads from MGM films and ABC and Disney TV shows.

Gates and Microsoft's entertainment division head, Robbie Bach, demonstrated latest developments in Surface, the computer in a table that responds to users' touches and gestures.

The concept is appearing as a virtual concierge in hotels, but it is hoped it will also play a significant part in retail.

The über-nerd's parting shot was a spoof video, starring himself, showing him trying to find a role post-Microsoft. It included attempting to lift weights, pleading for a spot in a rock band and lobbying for a place on a presidential ticket.

Appearing alongside him in the video were, among others, presidential hopefuls Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton plus movie moguls Steven Spielberg and George Clooney.

Data sourced from Business Week (online); additional content by WARC staff