Microsoft at CES 2012 - Top 5 keynote highlights
Microsoft won’t be making any more CES appearances after 2012, so it’s with extra interest that we pick apart the software giant’s farewell presentation. Steve Ballmer gave the final Microsoft keynote and while there were no big announcements, he still had plenty of interest to say.
If we were to pick one word to summarise Microsoft’s CES 2012 delivery, it would be ‘interfaces’. But of course you probably want a bit more than a single-word summary, don’t you? We’ll try out best.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer closed out the keynote address with the words “Metro, Metro, Metro!” Yep, it’s pretty important. Indeed, Ballmer told the CES crowd that Metro would become the “heart and soul” of his company, as it will tie together all of Microsoft’s products.
The Metro UI first reared its head on the Windows Phone relaunch in 2010, and has since made its way to Xbox 360. Excitingly, it’ll also be the interface for Windows 8, which means it’ll feature on a number of PC and tablet devices. Speaking of which…
Aside from the Metro UI, the other focus for Microsoft is on Windows 8. As we’ve mentioned, the next iteration of the world’s most popular OS will feature a radical departure by adopting a more modern, smartphone-influenced interface. Microsoft’s Tami Reller called it “a new way of thinking about your PC.”
Not just PCs either. Tellingly, Reller showed the OS running on tablet hardware. We briefly glimpsed a large Samsung tablet, which apparently ran on an Intel processor. Windows 8’s new app store was also demonstrated, which reenforced how computers and smartphones are now converging.
Speaking of smartphones, Steve Ballmer also used the Microsoft keynote to show off the slick mobile OS that kicked off the whole Metro UI shebang. There was little new on show here in truth – just a recap of some of Windows Phone Mango’s best features.
Of more interest (though again not exactly brand new) was Ballmer pulling out the Nokia Lumia 900 and the HTC Titan II – two recently announced Windows Phone devices. The Lumia 900 we’ve covered, but the Titan II created some buzz with its 4.7-inch OLED screen and impressive 16-megapixel camera.
While Microsoft didn’t announce any new super-powerful mini-laptops (aka Ultrabooks) in its keynote, it did assemble a number of the most exciting and recent examples. Naturally, all run on Windows 7 and will upgrade to Windows 8 without a hitch.
This who’s who of cutting edge Windows devices included the just-announced HP Envy 14 Spectre and the refreshed Samsung Series 9. Both are incredibly thin, light and powerful, and ram home the fact that no tablet is a substitute for a good laptop when it comes to advanced tasks.
Of course the other major part of Microsoft’s business going into 2012 is gaming, but there was no news of the next gen Xbox console that many had been hoping for. Rather, attention was drawn to the success of Kinect – Microsoft’s innovative motion and voice-based add-on.
There was a demo of Sesame Street TV, which seems to put kids (or you) into their very own episode of the classic show, complete with interactive games. Perhaps the most interesting part of this Kinect section was Steve Ballmer’s final reveal that it would be coming to Windows PCs on February 1st. Stay tuned for more on that one.