Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's Jan. 9 keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show will almost certainly focus on Windows 8, Xbox and Windows Phone.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer takes the stage for his Jan. 9 keynote address at
the Consumer Electronics Show, he'll almost certainly whip the curtain back
from a few company projects in development.
among those will be Windows 8, the long-gestating operating system due to
arrive sometime in the latter half of 2012. Microsoft's teams have tailored its
interface for both tablets and traditional PCs, giving users the chance to flip
seamlessly between a "regular" desktop and a start screen of colorful (and
potentially touchable) tiles linked to applications.
Ballmer use his stage time in Las Vegas to reveal upcoming Windows 8 devices?
In 2010, he spent a good part of his speech demonstrating a tablet PC from
Hewlett-Packard. "Almost as portable as a phone, but powerful as a PC running
Windows 7," he told the audience, while demonstrating the device's ability to
display ebooks. "The emerging category of PCs should take advantage of the
touch and portability capabilities."
that tablet never hit the market, most likely because of HP's decision to use
webOS as the software foundation for its first consumer tablet, and the next
year Ballmer seemed more reluctant to use CES to show off products in
development. Instead, he touted Kinect, the hands-free gaming controller for
the Xbox, and repeated an earlier announcement that "the next version of
Windows" would support system-on-a-chip (SoC) architecture. He also praised
Windows Phone and promised the company would invest "aggressively" in the
2012 could mark the return of a Ballmer more willing to flash new and upcoming
products. Indeed, the need for Windows 8 to perform at Windows 7 levels on the
open market-that is, hundreds of millions of copies sold-could compel Ballmer
to show Microsoft's hardware partners as firmly behind the project, which means
a substantial show of developing products at CES.
will almost certainly plug the Xbox and Kinect, and how those products are
helping Microsoft transform into a significant player in living-room
entertainment. He will also promote Windows Phone and its growing circle of
manufacturers, including Nokia, whose executives have already promised a
significant CES presence. The only question surrounding the latter is which Windows Phone devices will make an
appearance, and their capabilities.
year's CES will reportedly be Microsoft's last; starting in 2013, it will
decline to offer a keynote speech or booth at the show. Microsoft itself has
painted this as a unilateral decision, stating that its product news
announcements don't align with the show's January timeframe. However,
executives at the Consumer Electronics Association, which runs CES, have
suggested to the media that it was more of a mutual decision for Microsoft to
the case, Ballmer and crew can only hope that their work at this year's CES
will provide momentum for those initiatives-in particular, Windows 8 and
Windows Phone-they absolutely need to have succeed.
Nicholas Kolakowski on Twitter
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.