Microsoft's Ballmer Displays Tablet PCs, New HTC Phone, Video at CES

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Microsoft's Ballmer Displays Tablet PCs, New HTC Phone, Video at CES

by Nicholas Kolakowski

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The stage for Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmers keynote address at CES was heavily reminiscent of the stage he used to launch Windows 7 back in October 2009: heavily loaded with hardware from Microsofts partners and bright colors.

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Minutes before the presentation was due to begin, an electrical outage forced tech workers to scramble to fix the damage and get everything back on track.

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Twenty minutes after he was originally due to go on-stage, Ballmer appeared in a very holiday-looking red sweater.

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Ballmer began his speech by discussing how the things we take for granted today would have been science fiction in the early 1980s. He then described Microsoft as bullish in terms of the long-term prospects of our industry despite the recent economic battering.

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Ballmer took pains to characterize Bing as a success, saying that the search engine had 11 million users and that Microsoft was still working to understand user intent and anticipate what users are really looking for.

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Despite Microsofts current market-share weakness in the mobile operating system space, Ballmer touted the recently released Windows Mobile 6.5, saying that the OS would appear on many new devices throughout 2010, including this HTC phone.

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Then, Ballmer helped demonstrate how Windows 7 operates on a variety of hardware devices, ranging from all-in-one laptops to netbooks to notebooks.

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Next came Microsofts demonstration of Ray Kurzweils Blio e-reader software, whose interface allows users to insert highlights and other elements into their e-text. It also includes a text-to-speech feature.

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New additions to mainstay applications such as PowerPoint allow multiple people to work on different parts of a project. Then, their changes are automatically incorporated when a user clicks Save.

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Ballmer then unveiled three tablet PCs due for release in 2010: one from Pegatron, another from Archos and the last (far right) from Hewlett-Packard. The device from HP was the only one Ballmer demonstrated during the keynote.

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Ballmer termed tablet PCs an emerging category that should take advantage of the touch and portability capabilities.

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Although he declined to name the Hewlett-Packard tablet, or its price point and release date, Ballmer did mention that the device would display e-books and surf the Web.

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Ballmer demonstrated the Hewlett-Packard tablet's touch capabilities.

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Ballmer seemed intent on displaying the video capabilities of many Windows products, and the tablet PC was no exception.

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