Microsoft says goodbye to CES in style

A few weeks back, Microsoft announced that they would no longer be a part of Consumer Electronics Show, and that they were parting ways after their final 2012 keynote. That keynote has now concluded, and the company has turned away from a historic yearly event they have always been a part of.

The president of CEA took to the stage to announce the keynote and to say goodbye to Microsoft. He pushed that this departure was only a "pause" and that they had invited Microsoft back whenever they wanted to return. He invited Steve Ballmer to the stage and presented him with a scrapbook of CES memories over the year before allowing Steve to begin his keynote.

Microsoft began their keynote with a refreshing look at the company announcements over the years, their keynotes and other major events. This was remixed into a song, created by popular artist Pogo.

Steve Ballmer took to the stage to begin the keynote with the host, Ryan Seacrest who asked "what can we expect from you tonight?" Ballmer replied that "You'll see our future, and that's our fast and fluid metro interface." Seacrest then quipped "When you said Metro you looked at me in a strange way." 

Ballmer went on to say that he is "happy with where [Microsoft] is right now" and moved on to focus on Windows Phone. "What we've done with Windows Phone is do it better than the others, you know, the one's with icons" and claimed that "Windows Phone is the first phone to put people first. It's all about what YOU think is important, not what we think is important." The current CEO showed off his phone -- the Nokia Lumia 900 -- which had a number of missed calls from ex-CEO Bill Gates who "wanted to wish him well for the event."

Derek Snyder, Executive Communications manager took the stage to tout Windows Phone Mango once again, and didn't really show off much outside of the Windows Phone we've seen already. He attempted to run a voice demo on stage but the transcription failed to understand what he was saying. We thought Microsoft might talk about the next iteration of Windows Phone, but maybe that's being saved for Mobile World Congress.

Snyder talked about how Windows Phone is "more powerful" than other platforms and doesn't rely on proprietary messaging systems like BlackBerry Messenger or iMessage, and claimed that the company went with the likes of Facebook Messenger and Windows Live to get away from that, although those services are kind of different.

The company then moved on to talk about Windows 8 and the new form factors on PC's -- ultrabooks -- which are coming into style now. After a short video showing off the devices, Tami Reller, Chief Marketing Officer came on the stage to show off Windows 8. As soon as she brought Windows 8 onto the screen, the room went silent, and was filled with the clicking of camera shutters as everyone rushed to get photos of the screen.

It appears the company had a new build of Windows 8 on the device from the slightly differently colored background, but the demo only showed off some small things, such as the Windows store in action, and the companys all new HTML5-based "Cut the Rope" game that's been seen on other platforms. They detailed the Windows store, saying that you can offer trials, paid products and free software through the store, which provides a mechanism to update it in future.

Reller also pointed out that Microsoft allows business' to utilize the Windows Store to distribute their software to an enterprise network, and that controls for this will be discussed further in the future. The Windows store will officially open for business in late February. It's close.

She also reiterated features we've already seen on the Windows blog (not in the developer preview) such as semantic zoom, which allows users to zoom out on their applications and organize them into groups to find them easier. Additionally, it was heavily emphasized that every feature would work with a mouse and keyboard too, even complex ones such as pinch to zoom.

Applications can also now work together in Windows 8, you can opt-in to share information between apps to enable rich content to be shared with another application (such as emailing a friend a recipe) and that developers can build it in right now.

Finally, Reller announced that Windows 8 would be available to the public in beta sometime in February, which would coincide with the Windows store launch. When Seacrest and Ballmer took the stage again, they said that "every Windows 7 PC that's available now will be able to run Windows 8, that's a promise."

The company took a quick break, as they usually do at some point to show some sort of act, and the "Tweet Choir" came on stage. It was not quite what anyone really expected, a group that literally sings tweets that appear on the screen, and was a little painful to listen to. The tweets that came through were unthrilling and Twitter itself exploded with criticism of the move.

After our ear drums had cleared, Microsoft moved on to the Xbox 360. When Seacrest asked Ballmer if he had expected the Xbox ten years ago, he responded "no" but that he was glad the company had made the move. The company now has 66 million Xbox consoles and 40 million Xbox LIVE subscribers, with 18 million Kinect devices being sold since launch.

After demoing the Xbox 360 Metro dashboard, and showing off Kinect integration, Microsoft started talking about the future of Xbox. The company is adding new partnerships with media providers such as News Corporation, Fox, Fox News, IGN and the Wall Street Journal this year, which means even more useful content will be available at your fingertips. "But what's really the next big thing for the Xbox" asked Seacrest. 

Ballmer then invited two guests on to demonstrate "two way tv" with Kinect and Sesame Street, which is nothing short of incredible. This demo showed new ways to interact with TV shows, such as the show inviting kids to "fill a box with 4 coconuts" and them needing to pick an imaginary coconut off the ground and throw it at the TV. The technology even automatically recognizes if the kid needs help by getting the characters to work with them on the task if needed.

They also showed that Kinect can bring kids into their world, with the show inviting them in and showing them on the screen, dancing around a cartoon room and interacting with virtual objects. This technology has huge possibilites not only for children, but for changing how TV viewers are engaged by content providers.

Then, Ballmer took the stage for the final time, and was asked by Seacrest "What's next for Kinect?" Ballmer replied with a video which concluded by saying "we asked the world" and the world told them that they wanted to use Kinect even wider than the company could have imagined. For medical products, teaching, booth interaction and more, and so Microsoft unveiled the highly anticipated "Kinect for Windows" device, which will be available February 1.

Ballmer closed with a play on his famous keynote from many years ago, by yelling "METRO METRO METRO" and "WINDOWS WINDOWS WINDOWS" before saying thank you to everyone and goodnight, concluding Microsoft's long history with Consumer Electronics Show. We're sad to see them go, but it's good to see the company being willing to admit when something isn't fitting right anymore, and who knows? They could be back before we know it.

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51 Comments

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I love how everyone is still knocking the new metro UX. I was initially wary of it too, but from what I saw last night during the keynote, I'm looking forward to loading the beta up on one of my machines and giving it a real world go. Don't knock it, until you've tried it.

very disappointed.
I hoped they would at least show one little new feature we didn't know about yet.
Or even an updated ui of the desktop

Stoffel said,
very disappointed.
I hoped they would at least show one little new feature we didn't know about yet.
Or even an updated ui of the desktop

They did.... Kinda.

They showed mouse/keyboard interaction very briefly. And they did show the desktop, but TBH, I don't think the UI is going to change all that much. I think Microsoft has pretty much settled on AERO for use on the desktop.

I think the CES organizers need to get whoever does the keynote next year to get the script written by the folks who did that show, Entourage.

They were really good at fictionalizing celebrities into something people want to watch.

A poorly done rehash of everything we have already seen before. The "banter" between Seacrest and Ballmer was awkward, the folks on stage were awkward at presenting, and there was nothing new. This was clearly a time for the partners to shine and MS to get out of the way.

It would have been really nice for MS to throw us some kind of "bone", but the Kinect for Win 8 at the end was it I guess. All in all, the "twitter chorus" basically ruined any chance of hip and cool that MS possibly could have taken a stab at.

Whoever is in charge of putting people on stage, needs to focus on the Mike Angulo's, and the Joe Belfiores, jeez even Laura Foy makes some of these presenters look incompetent and unprofessional. Those guys actually have massive stage presence and can command a stage. Whoever can't see that, should be fired.

Microsoft seems to have an incredible ability to be so good at some things, and completely incompetent at presenting in front of a crowd at other times. And the marketing reflects that incompetence. Thank god the products stand up to all that.

I watched it last night right up to the point when the tweeting chior came out and shut down my laptop and turned on the Alabama/LSU game.

At any rate... I didnt learn anything new but I like that fact that the VP of WIndows demonstrated Win 8 and pointed out that you CAN use a mouse/keyboard on that start screen. I played with the tech preview and had a hell of a time trying to figure out how to use it with my current setup. I still think it's more for a tablet interface... which is totally fine. But I dont know if I see my self upgrading current machines to Win 8 with that start interface.

AM I gonna buy a win8 tablet? You bet I am.

As for Windows Phones. I have an Arrive on Sprint. Like it very much. I went with a WP because everyone I knew had Androids or iPhones. I dont like being like everyone else. Which is also why I have an Xbox. Everyone I knew had a Wii for the family. I had to be different. (Besides I knew that I already wanted it... having kids made it easier to sway the wife. LOL)

With that, owning an Xbox and also a Zune Pass, WP was a no brainer. And getting back to my original statement that I "Like" my arrive, I really enjoy the fresh OS that WP Manog is, however my issue is more with Sprint and their lack of support for WP. If the Focus were available, it would have been my first choice. I'm waiting to see if these Nokia's or a Titan II or III make it to CDMA. The Arrive would not have been my choice... it was my ONLY choice to experience WP.

I understand the "change your carrier" crowd but I've been with Sprint so long and have so many discounts that noone can touch my monthly rate. So the budget takes precidence.

Sorry for ranting... </rant>

So long Microsoft, I have a feeling this wont be a permanent departure from CES. I have a feeling your keynotes will be back in 5-7 yrs.

Metro is ugly plus unproductive. Aero is productive and beautiful. Unfortunately, those who crave the latest will praise Metro endlessly. Fortunately, for now, Metro's not being forced. That day will come too.

xpclient said,
Metro is ugly plus unproductive. Aero is productive and beautiful. Unfortunately, those who crave the latest will praise Metro endlessly. Fortunately, for now, Metro's not being forced. That day will come too.

How is metro unproductive? Being backed by the Windows Runtime and allowing developers to code solutions with a level of abstraction never seen in computing before sure seems unproductive.

Once more Apps get built that register with the charms mechanism, you will find that it is much simpler (hence MORE productive) than your traditional Windows OS.

Northgrove said,

Working great on Chrome, so there's no browser check.

Yeah no problem loading on Chrome! Love this game in my iPad too!

Northgrove said,
Working great on Chrome, so there's no browser check.

That's because proper HTML5 does feature checks in the javascript, not browser detection.
Any modern standards compliant browser should be able to render any Microsoft designed page, of course that is unless the site purposely set up to show the power of hardware accelerated rendering.

What a boring keynote where almost nothing was interesting and I felt like they were talking for the sake of talking. Hoped for at least 1 new screenshot (which we had not seen) of Windows 8 as a teaser. Or there was nothing to tease? I believe they missed a huge chance!

sanke1 said,
What a boring keynote where almost nothing was interesting and I felt like they were talking for the sake of talking. Hoped for at least 1 new screenshot (which we had not seen) of Windows 8 as a teaser. Or there was nothing to tease? I believe they missed a huge chance!

I agree they should have gone out with a bang not a fizzle, there was no new news

thealexweb said,

I agree they should have gone out with a bang not a fizzle, there was no new news

^^ I think thats the point of why they're leaving. By the time they come to do something like this, people already know most of whats being released. It'd be silly for them to try and keep the metro xbox dash update, the windows phone and windows 8 update a secret. It just isn't going to happen on the idea behind metro as a whole, nor will it work on many of Microsoft's products... at least not right now

Microsoft are left with little left to say and people attending are left feeling somewhat ripped off by the lack of fizz.

Ravensky said,
oh yeah..Metro...sucks!!!

In the interests of fairness, that's just an opinion, not a statement of fact I happen to love Metro in general, although it does have a couple negative aspects.

Ravensky said,
oh yeah..Metro...sucks!!!

Now that's a constructive post... lol

In fairness, Metro is very useful. I'm still on the fence about it on Windows 8, but I will, get this, actually give it a chance before making some wild decision out of my ***...

Here throw a coconut at the TV hun, *CRASH* no no no not the marble the coconut...$1,500 later...lawsuit against microsoft for teaching my kid to throw **** at my HDTV!!! SMART! DUH!!!

Inklin said,
I am surprised Microsoft has decided to stop doing this keynote each year, it's a shame too IMO.

To an extent, I think it makes sense for them. Microsoft are constantly releasing new stuff, and CES only happens once a year. By the time that CES rolls around, people pretty much know everything about their latest products anyway, so I think they've decided that it's not worth bothering anymore.

Majesticmerc said,

To an extent, I think it makes sense for them. Microsoft are constantly releasing new stuff, and CES only happens once a year. By the time that CES rolls around, people pretty much know everything about their latest products anyway, so I think they've decided that it's not worth bothering anymore.

By that token, they should not be involved with E3 either but I don't foresee them dropping their participation with that show.

TCLN Ryster said,

By that token, they should not be involved with E3 either but I don't foresee them dropping their participation with that show.

Actually, E3 is a good example of why CES is important to them. Press coverage. WE may have already seen screens of Windows 8, but the rest of the world hasn't. The general public hasn't. They see it on the news as they have reporters at CES...

Similarly, since I don't follow gaming news that closely anymore (But still game), most of my news I get from E3 coverage.

I hope that CES can realize the importance of Microsoft being there and convince them to come back.

M_Lyons10 said,
.... I hope that CES can realize the importance of Microsoft being there and convince them to come back.

There seemed to be a tension between Steve and the CES guy.

I would expect them back, but the keynote format this year sucked, and OMG can they get some speakers who can actually capture an audience instead of sounding like they're trying to avoid a panic attack? and WAAAAY less Seacrest.

maeby said,
damn i was looking forward to learning or seeing some new stuff on windows 8

Eh, we all pretty much already knew that the beta wasn't set for release yet, and they want to unveil everything about it at that time. Nobody expected anything interesting about Windows 8 at CES.

maeby said,
damn i was looking forward to learning or seeing some new stuff on windows 8

Initially, I've been somewhat weary of Windows 8 and its Metro start screen... and maybe that's because I didn't fully understand the idea behind it, or simply I didn't want to change.
However, over the last few months I've been needing to get a new phone since my dumb brick died. I toyed with the idea of getting an iphone, after all my iPod touch is great, or one of the many android phones out there. I went to the local phone shops and had a play with them all and was almost set to buy the the sony x10, but was drifting to the x8 simply due to the smaller screen.
At that point I thought, may as well check out the windows phones while im here.

All the phones in the store were setup on the counter, and are actual working products but without any use, the windows phones seemed to not offer much when compaired to the flashy android swooshing screens and widgets, or the familiar feel of the iOS.
Its only when I was at the checkout counter when I commented about the windows phones not being very good, and promptly the guy whipped it out (the phone!) and give me a quick demo of his windows phone. It was actually useful, the tiles on the screen made sense, the 'hubs' made sense when in use. With his networks, email, apps and games setup, and the way applications can intergrate themselfs in to other parts of Windows Phone, it felt natural and was just how I always wanted phones to work.

In the end, I did found myself drawn towards the windows phone as a phone that works, and left the store empty handed and confused. A week after playing with a few friends android phones I still had that windows phone experiance in the back of my mind.

I now own a windows phone and I'm very pleased with it.

I now have high hopes for Windows 8's Metro system but I'm not sure I'll be upgrading a touch screen monitor... I think payment kiosks have put me off them for life lol. I know windows 8's experiance wont be as intergrated as the windows phone is, but after actually using windows phone and being taken back by how good it is I'm holding high hopes for Windows 8...

If you guys haven't had a chance to play with a windows phone yet, try to get one thats actually being used by someone, the store demo phones don't do them justice and I feel microsoft/OEMs are losing more customers because of it... oh and the stupid expensive prices on the market place! what the hell is with that.

sagum said,

Initially, I've been somewhat weary of Windows 8 and its Metro start screen... and maybe that's because I didn't fully understand the idea behind it, or simply I didn't want to change.
However, over the last few months I've been needing to get a new phone since my dumb brick died. I toyed with the idea of getting an iphone, after all my iPod touch is great, or one of the many android phones out there. I went to the local phone shops and had a play with them all and was almost set to buy the the sony x10, but was drifting to the x8 simply due to the smaller screen.
At that point I thought, may as well check out the windows phones while im here.

All the phones in the store were setup on the counter, and are actual working products but without any use, the windows phones seemed to not offer much when compaired to the flashy android swooshing screens and widgets, or the familiar feel of the iOS.
Its only when I was at the checkout counter when I commented about the windows phones not being very good, and promptly the guy whipped it out (the phone!) and give me a quick demo of his windows phone. It was actually useful, the tiles on the screen made sense, the 'hubs' made sense when in use. With his networks, email, apps and games setup, and the way applications can intergrate themselfs in to other parts of Windows Phone, it felt natural and was just how I always wanted phones to work.

In the end, I did found myself drawn towards the windows phone as a phone that works, and left the store empty handed and confused. A week after playing with a few friends android phones I still had that windows phone experiance in the back of my mind.

I now own a windows phone and I'm very pleased with it.

I now have high hopes for Windows 8's Metro system but I'm not sure I'll be upgrading a touch screen monitor... I think payment kiosks have put me off them for life lol. I know windows 8's experiance wont be as intergrated as the windows phone is, but after actually using windows phone and being taken back by how good it is I'm holding high hopes for Windows 8...

If you guys haven't had a chance to play with a windows phone yet, try to get one thats actually being used by someone, the store demo phones don't do them justice and I feel microsoft/OEMs are losing more customers because of it... oh and the stupid expensive prices on the market place! what the hell is with that.


what phone did he/you have?

sagum said,

Initially, I've been somewhat weary of Windows 8 and its Metro start screen... and maybe that's because I didn't fully understand the idea behind it, or simply I didn't want to change.
However, over the last few months I've been needing to get a new phone since my dumb brick died. I toyed with the idea of getting an iphone, after all my iPod touch is great, or one of the many android phones out there. I went to the local phone shops and had a play with them all and was almost set to buy the the sony x10, but was drifting to the x8 simply due to the smaller screen.
At that point I thought, may as well check out the windows phones while im here.

All the phones in the store were setup on the counter, and are actual working products but without any use, the windows phones seemed to not offer much when compaired to the flashy android swooshing screens and widgets, or the familiar feel of the iOS.
Its only when I was at the checkout counter when I commented about the windows phones not being very good, and promptly the guy whipped it out (the phone!) and give me a quick demo of his windows phone. It was actually useful, the tiles on the screen made sense, the 'hubs' made sense when in use. With his networks, email, apps and games setup, and the way applications can intergrate themselfs in to other parts of Windows Phone, it felt natural and was just how I always wanted phones to work.

In the end, I did found myself drawn towards the windows phone as a phone that works, and left the store empty handed and confused. A week after playing with a few friends android phones I still had that windows phone experiance in the back of my mind.

I now own a windows phone and I'm very pleased with it.

I now have high hopes for Windows 8's Metro system but I'm not sure I'll be upgrading a touch screen monitor... I think payment kiosks have put me off them for life lol. I know windows 8's experiance wont be as intergrated as the windows phone is, but after actually using windows phone and being taken back by how good it is I'm holding high hopes for Windows 8...

If you guys haven't had a chance to play with a windows phone yet, try to get one thats actually being used by someone, the store demo phones don't do them justice and I feel microsoft/OEMs are losing more customers because of it... oh and the stupid expensive prices on the market place! what the hell is with that.

Nice. I'm glad you're happy with it. I've had a lot of smartphones, and so far Windows Phone is my favorite by far. I just find it so useful and easy to use. You jump in and out of what you're doing, and it's just a great OS. I'm glad you gave it a chance.

mulligan2k said,

what phone did he/you have?

I'm not sure, but I know it was a HTC branded at the top and it was about the same size as the ipod touch in the hand.

I eventually went with the LG Optimus 7. The screen is bigger then entire footprint of my last phone (sony ericsson s500i). Its taken some getting used to... just like the price of games. Angry birds on iOS = £0.69p, WP7 a massive £2.99.

lordcanti86 said,
Not surprised by the lack of Windows Phone news at the MS keynote. They usually don't drop THAT particular hammer until MWC.
why would they stop comming to ces? seems like great advertising

jasonon said,
why would they stop comming to ces? seems like great advertising

Because CES in the past usually meant a beta release of something like Windows etc, but Microsoft want to step away from this event because their products are getting different release schedules or at least that was my understanding when Microsoft first announced this would be the last CES for them.