CES: It's time to yank Microsoft off the keynote stage

CES: It's time to yank Microsoft off the keynote stage

Summary: When it comes to the opening keynote at the CES Show, Microsoft no longer has what it takes to get the crowd pumped up.


CES 2011

I think it's time for the Consumer Electronics Association to cut Microsoft loose and bring in a real innovator to deliver the opening keynote speech at CES.

Last night's on-stage presentation by CEO Steve Ballmer and crew was, quite frankly, embarrassing. The company didn't have any real news to share, aside from some talking avatars, Kinect technology in a Netflix app and an update to Microsoft Surface. And they insulted the intelligence of those in attendance by trying to mask a keynote speech with highlights from the past year.

Mary Jo Foley: CES: What Microsoft's Ballmer didn't say

I don't mean to take away the company's accomplishments around XBox and the new Kinect offering. Certainly, if there's a bright spot in Redmond, it's shining over the Xbox team. The device continues to deliver cutting edge technology and is growing beyond a gaming console and into a true living room entertainment hub.

But the time devoted to what you could do with Windows Phone 7 came across as very infomercial, more like a marketing campaign or sales pitch. The only thing that made it worse was how obvious it was that the company is still trying to catch up to Android and iPnone.

That's not necessarily a bad thing - Android and iPhone are the ones to beat and you can't beat 'em until you catch up to them. But is that really how anyone wants to kick off the biggest technology show of the year? With a recap of the past and a sales pitch for a " me too" product?

Earlier in the day, I attended Cisco's press conference - which was less press conference and more keynote. John Chambers got up on that stage and talked about revolutionizing television, a biggie in consumer technology.  He talked about partners leveraging their technologies to come together and drive a new innovative ecosystem that would benefit both the consumer and the industry. He spoke with energy and passion and a can-do attitude that represents the innovative spirit that helped CES to become the granddaddy of tech trade shows.

Motorola highlighted breakhroughs in mobile technology and advancements in tablet computing, while Intel talked up chip technology game-changers that would deliver new experiences in video. Nvidia and LG showcased the world's first "super phone" while Samsung introduced a sliding PC - a laptop-netbook hybrid that it sees as a new computing category.

And Microsoft is over here patting it self on the back because it will soon offer the cut-and-paste feature with a Windows Phone 7 update?

Listen, I'm not trying to diminish what it's been able to do with technology, as well as what it has in the pipeline. For example, the company offered a peek at Surface 2.0 and showed off an early build of Windows 8 running on new systems-on-a-chip (SoC) platforms from NVIDIA, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments on ARM.

Likewise, this is nothing personal against Ballmer, who actually has very good stage presence. I'm not a big fan of Ballmer, the CEO, because I don't feel that he's leading the company in the right direction - but that's another post for another time.

Previous coverage: Ballmer lands keynote at CES 2011 but can he make it to January?

What I'm saying is that the opening keynote speech sets the tone for the annual Consumer Electronics Show and Microsoft just isn't cutting it anymore. Let's get Google's Eric Schmidt or Cisco's John Chambers or even Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg on that stage to light a fire under that crowd, to get them excited about what the future of technology has in store for us and what they'll see in Las Vegas this week.

I hope that Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, is listening. There are a lot of smaller-scale tech shows out there these days and many of them are putting the movers and shakers of Silicon Valley in the spotlight and on the hot seat. If CES wants to retain its position as a must-attend show, it's going to have to work harder at setting the tone on opening night.

The first step is to cut Microsoft loose.

Also: Full coverage of CES 2011

Topics: Windows, Hardware, Laptops, Microsoft, Mobility, Operating Systems, Software, Tablets

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  • Spot on

    Looks like MS big product of 2010, a game controller, is also to be the product of 2011;-)

    Meanwhile you'll get a better look at win8 when Apple shows off lion later in the year.

    Go barely functional game controllers.
    Richard Flude
    • Kinect is innovative but you are right

      @Richard Flude

      MS needs a complete overhaul of their senior management. They just have no focus and struggle to deliver anything outside of their legacy products.

      XBOX is probably the only exception as it now does generate a profit and is a top notch gaming system. But here again, they fail to promote media center...

      I guess the endless churning of VP's is now catching up with them.
      • Atrix dock is a game changer, Kinetic blah!

        When you consider what a high end Android phone can do with a dock like the one Atrix touts, now you are talking.<br><br>Imagine this scenario, companies just buy the dock. And put them everywhere (these are cheap, under 150 mass produced and sold in bulk, its just a screen and a keyboard with a power supply). You want to get fancy, add a touchscreen.<br><br>Then they let every one of their employees use a smartphone, thought they require VM machine. They help their employees buy the phone and pay for the bill (which they already do now). Company installs a VM with the OS of their choice. You install a VM with your OS. And your smartphone is your laptop, your company's laptop and your company phone. Now how cool is that. And cost effective it is.<br><br>Very few realize that this can easily knock the iPad out of the market and give tablets fits.<br><br>Kudos to Motorola for recognizing or stumbling onto a game changer situation.
      • RE: CES: It's time to yank Microsoft off the keynote stage

        @otaddy <br>Yeah, it is a shame that E3 this year will most likely have the first showings of the next gen consoles from all three manufacturers... I hope they finally learn to use enough RAM and VRAM... I hate playing Dynasty Warrirors and being able to move faster than the console can draw the enemies around me. I am always running through an area and they pop into existence right as I make it to the back end of the group, because the console didn't have enough system RAM and VRAM to precache and preload ahead of me.
    • RE: CES: It's time to yank Microsoft off the keynote stage

      @Richard Flude

      Barely functional game controllers???

      I don't normally feed trolls but this needs attention.

      Kinect... Let me guess you bought one, allowed time for it to recognise you and your surroundings and played the majority of available games to check how badly it functions?

      My guess is you didn't because I have had mine since launch and it has never once let me down, it can cope with multiple light sources, sofa's, book shelves, mirrors and anything else you normally find in a living room.

      I guess not!!!

      So much has this technology impressed me I have retired my PS3 in favour of the 360!
      • RE: CES: It's time to yank Microsoft off the keynote stage


        Mine seems to be working fine. I'd be surprised if Richard's even seen one, let alone used it.

        WP7, Kinect, Azure, Surface, IE9, Windows Live and all the real technologies that keep our systems and the planet running. I think that deserves a keynote address.

        But keep waiting for Apple to fiddle some more with their antique OS and I'm sure there's more people to be convinced to carry jumbo media players around.
      • The only reason MS has Kinect

        is because Apple shot itself in the foot.

        Apparently, the company (Isreal's PrimeSense) behind a major part of the Kinect technology first approached Apple but became frustrated during negotiations with Apple's demand for secrecy so moved on and then approached MS.



        Even though that Apple secrecy has served it well in the past (ie, built up speculation, excitement and rumours re future products), this time it backfired and directed worthwhile technology to a competitor.
      • RE: CES: It's time to yank Microsoft off the keynote stage

        Primesense only sells the 3d camera .and provided microsoft with the reference design to the system. Microsoft took the technology and cut down the cost greatly by replacing numerous chips with software solutions .They also developed the brain of kinect ; the part that tracks the human skeleton in real time, which primesense had nothing to do with.
        Apple would have gone no where with this tech. It would have ended up as an overpriced gimmick
      • Never once?

        No one has claimed the devices works as well as you say it does. Not even MS.

        Why all the lies?
        Richard Flude
      • We should ask you that Richard Flude

        I guess it's another MS success that just forces you to lie about it.
        You don't have to like it, just except that it works as designed and move on.

        Don't get in a hissy fit over it.
        John Zern
    • RE: CES: It's time to yank Microsoft off the keynote stage

      @Richard Flude Oh, but don't you know, Kinect is being adopted by corporations everywhere for teleconferencing, now instead of having video conferencing you can have them with your avatars instead running around a virtual room while Master Chief is blasting away at people falling asleep!! It's the most awesome thing I've ever seen!!!

      Seriously, I'll give Kinect kudos, it has a lot of potential that I didn't see when I initially flamed it, but is this really the venue to talk about Kinect? Isn't that for E3? This is more for enterprise/corporate people, no one cares how many Kinects sold here, people want to know about Windows 7 phone sales, and what you are going to do about the tablet PCs.....

      You got nothing Ballmer...two years in a row, you have absolutely NOTHING.
      • RE: CES: It's time to yank Microsoft off the keynote stage

        @cyberslammer2 CES = "Consumer" Electronics... that could be Kinect, or anything for the home and normal user... not necessarily enterprise/corporate
        Roque Mocan
      • Who

        I'm in enterprises all the time, kinect has zero presence.
        Richard Flude
  • RE: CES: It's time to yank Microsoft off the keynote stage

    I don't see why it's so innovative to release the thousand and one Android Smartphone or some pad with a very limited os.
    • RE: CES: It's time to yank Microsoft off the keynote stage

      @Mr.Gonzo : I agree. Apple [and by extension RIM, and companies that sell Androids] have turned into gadget companies. In particular those that sell Androids. All using basically the same OS with just some modifications on a smartphone that look similar to each other. Is that innovation?

      I can't say Apple is innovative either. What's really innovatiove between the iPhone 1 and iPhone 4? They probably could of tucked all the "new" features in iPhone 4 into iPhone 1 but they suckered all those fanbois and fangurls into buying this environmentally unfriendly rubbish.
      Gis Bun
      • RE: CES: It's time to yank Microsoft off the keynote stage

        @Gis Bun I agree. Am an .NET Dev that is worried about my future. I should worry more I guess because of people like this... Sam Diaz and their views of what Innovation is.
  • RE: CES: It's time to yank Microsoft off the keynote stage

    The only thing that I don't like about MS being the keynote is Ballmer. He's a business guy and they really need to get a tech out there to kick the show into gear. They showed off a good bit of stuff, but, you also have to imagine that they don't want to steal thunder from partners. Consider the fact that they killed Courier which many people were interested in, but, there are dual screen notebooks in the lineup this year from partners. I would say, don't yank MS, but do pull the CEO. They could also think about bringing the partners on stage with them to show off how the MS software is being implemented.
    • RE: CES: It's time to yank Microsoft off the keynote stage

      @hysonmb I agree. But back when it was Gates giving these things they were cool. He speaks better to techies. I saw him once and he gives incredible demos.<br><br>I also agree that Ms has some of the best stuff going. Some of this other stuff like Atrix would be better if they were MORE MS centric - I want the same (or similar) OS on all the pieces.<br><br>Kinect has huge futures. MS made it cheap enough that by the time competitors could catch up Kinect will be a defacto standard. Imagine having SEVERAL of them in your house, watching and helping you. Even keeping you company. A pet! I guess I'm a 2000 Man (like the Rolling Stones song).
      Schoolboy Bob
    • I don't think Microsoft intended to produce the Courier

      <i>Consider the fact that they killed Courier which many people were interested in, but, there are dual screen notebooks in the lineup this year from partners.</i>
      It was more of a concept, and one which could've been easily brought to market.

      But, in the field of PCs, and anything that depended upon software, like tablets, smart-phones, MP3 players, etc, Microsoft could not enter into the hardware manufacturing business. Otherwise, they would've pissed off all of the manufacturers that depend upon the same OS and other software that Microsoft builds. Microsoft would've been competing against it's bread-and-butter partners, and to do so would've meant that those partners would've probably been lost as clients of Microsoft's software, including any of the OSes. So, Dell and HP and Lenovo and Toshiba and all other manufacturers would've been looking for an alternate OS, and who knows, Linux could've turned into a good alternative to Windows. So, Microsoft cannot "build" competing hardware against its software clients. On the Zune and Xbox/Kinect side, Microsoft was not competing against its software clients since most of them weren't into producing game consoles or MP3 players. When it comes to the "Surface" technology, Microsoft may be "forced" to come out with its own gadgets/PCs/tablets if its software clients don't take the hardware lead to manufacture anything that uses "Surface".
    • RE: CES: It's time to yank Microsoft off the keynote stage

      @hysonmb : Ballmer is no head of any company. While Gates may not had the pizazz of other heads, Ballmer looks dead compared to him.
      Gis Bun