Channel Insider content and product recommendations are editorially independent. We may make money when you click on links to our partners. Learn More.

LAS VEGAS—Eons ago it was thought that the Earth was the center of the universe. Later that was revised to be the sun. Still later, scientists proved that we are but an insignificant speck of star dust in the infinite cosmos.

Good thing, because now, Microsoft has sought to reverse time and space and re-create the center of the universe—in the family home. And the nexus of that universe is Windows Vista.

In fact, some new features of Vista are “better than going back in time,” said Justin Hutchinson, group product manager for Microsoft, who helped Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates demonstrate Vista at the opening keynote of International CES here.

Hutchinson was speaking of Shadow Copy, a new feature in Office 2007 that enables a previous version of a file to be restored as needed. It was one of several new features Gates and other Microsoft representatives demonstrated for a standing-room-only crowd here at the Venetian Hotel.

Gates kicked off International CES with his annual keynote, titled “Connected Experiences,” in which he explained his vision of the “digital decade” and the part Microsoft software plays in it.

Click here to read more about Gates’ CES keynote.

This year, Microsoft has a lot more goodies to enhance the digital lifestyle, with Vista due to be launched later this month, along with an IPTV (Internet Protocol TV)-enabled Xbox and the Microsoft Windows Home Server.

Among the new features of Vista is DreamScene, which turns the Windows desktop background from a photo or color scheme into a “full motion, personalized video canvas,” according to Microsoft officials.

New PCs rolled out at the show ready to take advantage of all of Vista’s new features include several touch-screen computers, such as the HP TouchSmart PC, the Toshiba Portege R400 mobile PC with a spinning screen, the Sony Vaio VGX-TP1 and the Medion UMPC ultra-mobile PC, which features the Origami Experience user interface.

Gates pointed out that, six years into the “digital decade,” 40 percent of homes have more than one PC, which points to the need for devices and services that can connect those PCs.

Microsoft is connecting the den and living room. Read more here.

In addition to Shadow Copy, Hutchinson demoed the uses of new Microsoft Live Search, which can give three-dimensional renderings of cities that can be navigated by controllers for Microsoft’s Xbox gaming system. “It’s not about searching,” he said. “It’s about finding.”

Consumers can expect to see in 2007 the HP Media Smart Server, a product that will enable users to store everything and connect with anything to a central store of data, photos, movies, games and programs. The server will enable automated backups, connectivity to multiple devices, and remote connectivity.

Finally, Gates & Co. showed off the new ways users will be able to introduce HD-DVD into their homes: through the HD-DVD extender for Xbox, Xbox Live Video and IPTV, “which will unlock the potential of TV instant gratification.”

Check out’s for Microsoft and Windows news, views and analysis.