The Consumer Electronics Show is a spectacle. It’s a place where massive tech companies and small startups come together to show off neat, new ideas. Some companies focus on PCs, others attempt to innovate with products that consumers have never seen.
For the tech lover, it’s an exciting show that kicks off the new year. The only problem is, so many of the products on the showroom floor won’t hit store shelves in the next year. Still others are concept items that may or may not work in a real-life setting. In too many cases, CES blinds consumers with flashy products that they might never see in their homes.
As disappointing as that might be, it’s how things go at CES. But just because there is a certain norm that all companies align with, it doesn’t mean that Microsoft, arguably one of the most important companies at CES, couldn’t have spent its time at the show talking about security.
It might not be as exciting as a new tablet or Project Natal, but security has the greatest impact on both consumers and the enterprise. And considering Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer gave the keynote address that kicked off CES, he could have made a big splash.
Instead, Ballmer spent his time talking about phones and computers. On the showroom floor, Microsoft did nothing to push forward the hope for better security. It was a missed opportunity for the software giant. And it could cost it in the court of public opinion. Here’s why Microsoft should have discussed security at CES:
1. The keynote
Unlike any other company at the Consumer Electronics Show, Microsoft had an opportunity to exploit captive media attention at its keynote address. Microsoft could have discussed how it plans to implement a security plan that will help keep users’ data far more secure than it has in the past. Ballmer’s keynote was an opportunity for Microsoft to set the tone for security in 2010. It missed the mark.
2. Worries over Windows 7
Although Ballmer spent time discussing the success of Windows 7 during his keynote, it didn’t do anything to allay user fears. Since the release of Windows 7, both consumers and the enterprise have been concerned about the security of Microsoft’s latest operating system. CES could have been the ideal place for Microsoft to attract media attention and discuss why users can trust Microsoft with their data.
3. Microsoft’s reputation
This year, Microsoft could have made it clear that it has heard user complaints. It knows users don’t always trust Windows, and it will address those problems going forward. Instead, the company focused on flashy tech. Microsoft’s security woes are well known. Why not use CES, arguably the biggest platform in technology, to address its identity troubles?
4. Apple wasn’t there
Whenever Apple is showing off technology, it tends to steal the show. But Apple wasn’t at CES. By discussing security, Microsoft would have been able to dictate the discussion without worrying about Apple debating points it would have made about securing data. Once again, Microsoft has given Apple the ability to dominate the security discourse.
Microsoft Missed Chance to Seize CES Attention
5. Security is getting worse
It’s no secret that security both in software and on the Web is getting worse by the day and so far, the security community is having a hard time catching up. As more sensitive data is stolen, consumers need to hear from major companies that things will be better. They didn’t hear that from Microsoft at CES. That’s a shame.
6. The alternative was boring
It’s understandable that Microsoft would want to talk about tech at a gadget-focused show, but after Ballmer left the stage at CES, most in attendance were awfully bored. The biggest news from that presentation was Project Natal’s availability at the end of the year. Besides that, Microsoft showed off a few tablet PCs and a new feature in Bing Maps. Sorry, but those topics don’t seem nearly as important as Windows security.
7. Current customers need reassurance
There is a lot of confusion in the marketplace. Novice users hear about Windows security woes on an almost daily basis and they don’t know how to protect themselves. All the while, they’re journeying out into a dangerous environment without the proper safeguards in place. Unfortunately, Microsoft didn’t provide them with any direction at CES. It might be saving security news for another time, but by not addressing the topic at CES, Microsoft is still leaving some of its users in the dark.
8. Microsoft is the target
For now, Microsoft is the target of the majority of malicious hackers. That’s why it’s incumbent upon Microsoft to do what it can to effectively address security problems and lead the charge against scammers. CES could have been the place where Microsoft asserted itself as a leader in security. Instead, it waited for others to carry that banner.
9. The enterprise was watching
It’s likely that the corporate world will eventually drop Windows XP and move to Windows 7, but it would do that sooner if it had a greater understanding of the security benefits Windows 7 would provide. And just because CES is for “consumer electronics,” it doesn’t mean that the enterprise wasn’t taking notice. It wanted to hear how Microsoft plans to make Windows more secure to see if it was worth adopting. Microsoft missed a huge financial opportunity by not talking about security at the show.
10. It shifts the discussion
By discussing security at CES, Microsoft could have shifted the discussion from Apple’s tablet and Google’s Nexus One to improvements the company will be making to Windows security. Talking about security improvements would have pushed Google and Apple off the front page and made Microsoft the main focus of the show. Instead, CES was overshadowed by Google’s and Apple’s big plans. In the end, that was the last thing Microsoft needed at CES.