Microsoft Bows Out Of CES With A Whimper

The latest news and reviews from Las Vegas: CES 2012 Special Report
Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer took to the stage to deliver the company’s final keynote address at CES, ending a 15 year partnership begun when Bill Gates took to the stage in 1995.

And while most expected Microsoft to go out with a bang, the software giant instead patted itself on the back used the keynote address as a chance to bring people up to date regarding Windows Phone, Windows 8 and Xbox.

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Major new announcements to come out of the keynote were thin on the ground from Ballmer and his celebrity co-host Ryan Seacrest. The few nuggets of information to emerge included the fact that Kinect technology is coming to Windows from 1 February, Windows 8 Beta is coming at the end of February and, well, that was about it.

We did get a look at the Nokia Lumia 900 and HTC Titan II WP7 handses in action but since both were already announced it was hardly breaking news. Ballmer said the WP7 Marketplace now has 50,000 apps with 300 new apps added each day. Despite reportedly poor sales figures for WP7 handsets, Baller said he was “excited and upbeat about where we are.”

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We also got a demo of Windows 8 running on a variety of hardware including a reference tablet powered by a Tegra 3 chipset. We also got more information on the Windows Store and Microsoft announced that it would also be launched in late February and would be available in 200 markets around the world in all the languages Windows itself is available in.

While Windows 8 is certainly the future for Microsoft, Ballmer was keen to point out that Windows 7 was not dead  was was the best-selling OS ever, and a video showing some thin-and-light laptops running the OS highlighted that it was still an important product for Microsoft. Ballmer also announced that the 500 million Windows 7 users would be able to upgrade to Windows 8 from day one.

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Finally, we got a walk through of the new Xbox dashboard which was launched last month. Ballmer said that 18 million Kinects had been shipped ince it launched over a year ago, and that the support for this technology will come to Windows PCs next month.

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So that’s the end of that. No more scripted shouting from Ballmer and despite President of the CES, Gary Shapiro saying Microsoft will be back, we are not so sure they’ll be missed if this is the standard of keynote they would deliver.

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