After 2012, Microsoft apparently will no longer be the commanding presence that it has been at the Consumer Electronics Show.
A keynote by Microsoft's CEO has long anchored the beginning of the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and the company usually accompanies that speech with a huge booth on the convention floor.
Starting in 2013, however, Microsoft will decline to provide a keynote speech or booth at CES.
"We have decided that this coming January will be our last keynote presentation and booth at CES," Frank Shaw, Microsoft's corporate vice president of corporate communications, wrote in a Dec. 21 posting on The Official Microsoft Blog. "We won't have a keynote or booth after this year because our product news milestones generally don't align with the show's January timing."
Microsoft will continue to participate in CES, he added, "as a great place to connect with partners and customers across the PC, phone and entertainment industries."
At the 2011 CES, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer used his keynote to highlight the company's forays into the consumer realm, suggesting that the hands-free Kinect controller and Xbox 360 were on the verge of becoming a true household entertainment hub. He also detailed progress of Windows Phone, the company's smartphone platform.
Heading into that keynote, analysts had expected Ballmer to make some sort of announcement about Windows-powered tablets. He did, following up on an earlier statement that the next version of Windows would support system-on-a-chip (SoC) architecture, including the ARM-based systems popular on mobile devices such as tablets. However, he declined to show off any work in progress, and the tablets present in Microsoft's booth on the CES show floor were ones running Windows 7 (and meant primarily for the Asian market). It wasn't until later in 2011 that Microsoft whipped back the curtains from Windows 8, which will appear on a variety of tablets.
Some of those Windows 8 tablets could make their debut during Ballmer's 2012 CES keynote, currently scheduled for Jan. 9 at 6:30 p.m. in the Palazzo Ballroom of The Venetian hotel and casino. Microsoft could also use that speech (and its booth) to show off the latest Windows Phone devices running Mango, a wide-ranging software update designed to bring the platform up to parity with Google Android and Apple's iOS. Microsoft also uses the show as a venue for Xbox-related news.
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Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.