Despite rumors that the Xbox 720 would be unveiled during the keynote, there were no announcements about a new gaming console.
Mr. Ballmer’s keynote began with an introduction by Gary Shapiro, President and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association – the organizing body behind CES. President Shapiro said that Microsoft was “taking a break” from CES 2013, contradicting claims from Microsoft that the company was pulling out of the company to concentrate on smaller more focused events.
“We agreed to a pause,” President Shapiro said.
Although Microsoft plans to pull out of CES, President Shapiro claimed that CES has “no rival” in its ability to attract exhibitors and attendees in the tech industry, media, and retailers.
”CES is the dominant show in consumer technology by any measure,” he said.
The introduction and welcoming remarks were followed by video montage highlighting Microsoft’s appearances at CES over the years. Ryan Seascrest then took to the podium to engage Mr. Ballmer in a staged interview.
“I’ve truly always been impressed with Microsoft, and their innovations continue to surprise me,” remarked Mr. Seacrest.
Mr. Seascrest began by talking about the Windows phone with Mr. Ballmer. They unveiled the Nokia Lumia 900, a Windows Phone powered 4G smartphone (available through both Rogers and Telus in Canada). It has a 4.3-inch AMOLED screen and an 8-megapixel camera. The device has a 1.4 GHz Snapdragon processor, and 16GB of memory.
Mr. Ballmer then moved on to demonstrate the Metro UI on the Windows Phone. Metro UI is Microsoft’s new cross platform UI that will be a part of Windows 8. Derek Snyder, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Microsoft, who demonstrated some of Windows Phone’s new features, then joined them on stage.
Mr. Snyder’s first demonstration was of the new Siri-like voice recognition features in the new Windows Phone OS. Unfortunately for Mr. Snyder this demonstration also showed that the voice recognition functionality is bug prone as it only picked up around half of what was spoken.
After this demonstration was over, the subject of conversation moved over to the Windows desktop OS. This segment of the keynote began with a video clip showing off the Aspire S3, the UX31, Portege Z380, Dell XPS 14z, and other Ultrabooks running Windows 7.
Tami Reller, Chief Marketing Officer for Windows then appeared on stage to give a demo of Windows 8.
Ms. Reller said, “Windows 8 is designed to deliver a no compromise experience. It brings together the potential of a tablet and the power of a PC.”
Ms. Reller then demonstrated some of the features of Windows 8, and the Metro UI on stage on both a tablet and a PC.
Ms. Reller’s part of the keynote then shifted to highlighting Microsoft’s iTunes style app store. “Apps are what power the new experience in Windows 8, and it all starts here in the Store,” Ms. Reller said.
The app store itself has nearly all the functionality of the iTunes app store, albeit it is clothed in the Metro UI. Microsoft plans to launch it next month, in every language and region Windows is available in.
The keynote then shifted to the topic of Xbox. To the disappointment of many, no details on the Xbox 720 were unveiled. Craig Davidson, Senior Director of Xbox, who was on stage to talk about the gaming console, showed off some updates to Kinect and some metro like enhancements to the Xbox OS.
Mr. Davidson also announced a partnership with News Corporation, bringing Fox, the Wall Street Journal, Fox News and IGN content to the Xbox.
After highlighting the Kinect, and running through some announcements about Kinect updates, Mr. Davidson left the stage giving the spotlight back to Mr. Ballmer to finish the keynote.
“Metro, Metro, Metro!” and “Windows, Windows Windows!” were Mr. Ballmer’s final remarks which cued applause and the house lights being brightened.
With that Mr. Baller and Mr. Seacrest walked off stage, concluding Microsoft’s last keynote at CES.