CES: What Microsoft's Ballmer didn't say

Summary:This isn't a typical keynote write-up. At the kick-off Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2011 keynote by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer on January 5, the more interesting bits were what Ballmer didn't say.

CES 2011

This isn't a typical keynote write-up. Usually, covering a keynote, I write about what executives say or announce. At the kick-off Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2011 keynote by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer on January 5, the more interesting bits were what Ballmer didn't say.

He didn't offer Windows Phone 7 sales numbers. (Microsoft said recently it had sold 1.5 million WP7 devices, but later admitted it had sold these to carriers, not consumers.)

He didn't offer any new Windows 7 sales figures.

He didn't talk about Microsoft's plans to compete with Apple TV and Google TV (or why it isn't planning to do so).

Most alarmingly, he didn't have anything to say about how Microsoft plans to address the slate market beyond what company officials have said already -- namely, that Windows 7 makes a darn good slate/tablet operating system and will be the operating system that Microsoft makes available to its partners for the next two-plus years. I strongly disagree, as even the nicest looking Windows slates hitting the market are either 1. super pricey; 2. horrible re: battery life; 3. heavy/bulky; and/or 4. not touch-centric.

Remember Ballmer said that Microsoft's and its partners' answers to the iPad would be coming in 2011, and would be Intel Oak Trail dependent? Other than showing off the new Samsung Sliding PC, which is running Oak Trail, Microsoft execs didn't have more to say on that front.

Ballmer did reiterate that the next version of Windows (which he didn't call Windows 8) will run on ARM processors. He noted that Microsoft sold 8 million Kinect sensors in 60 days. (What he didn't say is that the 8 million was sales to the channel and not consumers. So we don't really know how many consumers bought.) He noted that Netflix and Hulu soon will be Kinect-enabled on Xbox Live. And he noted that Microsoft will deliver a thinner (and hopefully cheaper) Surface 2.0 platform later this year.

The most intriguing thing about Ballmer's keynote address, to me, was his closing: "Whatever device you use, now or in the future, Windows will be there."

I am taking the man at his word, and assuming that he is talking about Microsoft's long-term goal: To make Windows (and not some Windows variant, like Windows Compact Embedded or Windows Phone OS) the ubiqitious operating system to which developers will write and consumers will run. That, however is not a 2011 deliverable. It's further away. Much.

Topics: Windows, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software

About

Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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