Microsoft at last year's CES opening keynote
As we are all aware of at this stage, Microsoft will not be delivering a keynote, nor formally exhibiting at CES 2013, which is expected to kick off in Las Vegas next week. This marks the first time in 14 years that the company hasn't held the opening keynote at CES, with the reasoning behind the departure being that their product launches don't align properly with CES, meaning they'll stick to events that they self-hold, plus E3 of course.
Just because Microsoft isn't exhibiting at CES, doesn't mean that the company won't have a presence at the show. According to Computerworld, Microsoft will still be there to hold meetings with key partners and suppliers in private areas, as well as a few reporters, but the chance of any sort of major announcement at CES - such as more info on the Surface Pro - is basically non-existent.
However, this CES expect to see a whole lot of products using Microsoft software to be in the limelight. With the recent release of Windows 8 and Windows RT, there will be many products to see that pack the major OS. Expect all sorts of touchscreen laptops, convertibles, hybrids and tablets to be seen, some of which will see a release in the near future, and some of which will only be prototypes for products to come.
There are a few things in particular to look out for in regards to Windows 8 products. Intel's "Clover Trail" Atom processor, designed specifically for tablets and other such portable devices, was delayed until very late last year, meaning we'll probably see a number of new devices shown off at CES 2013 that make use of the chip.
We'll probably see Windows 8 tablets with Hondo chips inside
Apart from Intel, there's also a good chance we'll see some new devices using AMD's Z-60 "Hondo" processor, which was formally announced in October and designed specifically for Windows 8. Like Intel's competing Atom chip, Hondo brings an integrated low-power graphics chip alongside two x86 processing cores; unlike Intel though, AMD hasn't had much luck getting their CPU into new tablets, so it'll be interesting to see if anything appears at CES 2013.
Also regarding tablets, Windows RT will be in the spotlight once again. Only a few Windows RT tablets have been released apart from the Surface, such as the Samsung ATIV Tab and ASUS Vivo Tab RT, which could be due to restrictions on the amount of OEMs that can create Windows RT devices. These restrictions are rumored to be lifted in January, which could mean we'll see a bunch of new tablets soon, perhaps at CES.
Toshiba and HP both had Windows RT tablets in the works at one point before canceling them, so perhaps something will be shown (although it is unlikely), while Dell and HTC reportedly want to join the party.
On the other hand, the recent launch of Windows Phone 8 that occupied the end of 2012 means that its unlikely any new phones will be shown off at next week's event. Announcing new devices so close to availability of the current range of Windows Phones would make little sense, and we imagine companies are still surveying the market to see how their current products are doing.
We could be seeing more of this Huawei WP8 device
The only exception to this rule will be companies that haven't already released a Windows Phone 8 device. We know that ZTE has something in the works regarding the platform, and Huawei is expected to show off two new devices in Vegas, but aside from that we'll have to wait until MWC 2013 or later before more new Windows Phones make an appearance.
What we definitely won't see is the next Xbox, unless Microsoft plans on pulling some sort of major stunt; instead that announcement increasingly looks like it will happen at E3 2013 later in June.
So, what Microsoft-related products do you most want to see at CES 2013? Let us known in the poll (or comments) below.