Just a few hours ago, Steve Ballmer took the stage at CES 2012 to present Microsoft’s keynote for the last time; at least for the foreseeable future. So what did Ballmer have in store for the farewell presentation? Unfortunately, not much more than he did last year.
Things started off on a bit of a sentimental note as the CEA presented Steve with a look back at past CES keynotes and what seemed like a promise to get them back on stage in the future.
Once Ballmer was ready to take over, Ryan Seacrest was brought out to provide what I can only describe as an interview style presentation. Things kicked off with Metro and Windows Phone. There was a lot of focus on the UI and the People Hub. Ballmer talked about how easy it was to see what was important and be able to connect with everyone. There was also and attempt at demonstrating Windows Phone’s speech-to-text capabilities, but unfortunately the demo fell a bit short which was not impressive. Ballmer also highlighted the hardware that AT&T announced earlier in the day such as the HTC Titan II and Nokia’s Lumia 900.
Ballmer and Seacrest then moved on to discuss Windows; specifically, Windows 8. Unfortunately, not much was revealed that we did not already know. Windows 8 will run on both x86 and ARM hardware. Metro-style navigation on the start menu optimized for both touch and mouse/keyboard navigation. Next milestone available in February for download. They did show off ‘Semantic Zoom’ which looked pretty interesting. Definitely a new type of window management for Windows. A short video also showed off some nice hardware that will be coming for Windows 8 though what actually makes it to market has yet to be seen.
The final portion of the keynote was spent talking about the XBox as an entertainment system, not just a video game console. Stats boasted by Steve included more than 40 million Live subscribers and over 18 million Kinect sensors sold. Ballmer also announced that Kinect would be coming to Windows on February 1st so that number will likely rise very quickly. The most interesting moment came when Craig Davidson used a Lumia 900 to control the Xbox and watch live TV. This gives us just a bit of hope that Microsoft is finally ready to take advantage of it technologies and finally integrate them into one solid ecosystem. It’s becoming more and more evident that Microsoft used the Xbox as its own Trojan Horse into the living room and it’s becoming a full on entertainment platform. With additional content partners announced, the Xbox is positioned to take over input one sooner rather than later.
Ballmer wrapped by emphasizing what’s next for Microsoft: “Metro! Metro! Metro! and Windows! Windows! Windows!”.