CES: What Microsoft's Ballmer didn't say

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.

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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 has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • RE: CES: What Microsoft's Ballmer didn't say

    Don't laugh, but I love the Zune HD. With the integration of Zune on the WP7 and Xbox, any mention of the future of Zune was alarmingly absent.
    Camden boy
    • Zune HD

      For now, MS is all about Zune as a marketplace for video/audio. Rumor has it we might hear about a Zune HD 2 some time later this year... an iPod Touch like device. We'll see, I guess. MJ
      Mary Jo Foley
      • RE: CES: What Microsoft's Ballmer didn't say

        @Mary Jo Foley

        I think a smart idea would be to take the WP7 interface - and put that onto a Zune - that way they only have the one "handheld" OS - and they can go head to head with the iPod Touch.
        bogopogo
      • alarming

        @Mary Jo Foley
        i love it, that you are "alarmed". it is time to jump ship, i guess. or you spend the rest of your "carrier" watching your beloved "softies" die a long and painful death. but you can still become a google watcher, i guess.
        banned from zdnet
      • RE: CES: What Microsoft's Ballmer didn't say

        I would love to have MS design the speaker function and phone feature into the ZUNE HD. It would then be an awesome device: smaller, thinner, and very practical.
        Shigemichi
      • Zune vs Phillips, Casio, Panasonic...

        @Mary Jo Foley likes the Zune.
        The problem with the Zune is that you have a device selling for almost $200 that has roughly the same capabilities as consumer electronics devices selling for $20 to $50 by Sansa, Phillips, Casio, and many other consumer electronics device makers - and their products work fine for the primary purpose of playing good music obtained at reasonable prices from a number of different media vendors.

        Why be tied into the iTunes store? With Napster, Rhapsody, and 20 other vendors, I get better selection at a better price.
        Rex1Ballard
      • I much prefer one stop shopping myself...

        @Rex1Ballard
        I'm a guy and I by nature HATE shopping going for store, to store, to store. Browsing the whole ball of wax is offensive to me and a huge waist of my time. Apple gives me a good one stop shopping option and I LOVE it!

        Pagan jim
        James Quinn
    • RE: CES: What Microsoft's Ballmer didn't say

      @Camden boy
      Agreed. I was hoping on some news about the (speculated) "Zune HD2"...
      xnederlandx
      • RE: CES: What Microsoft's Ballmer didn't say

        Plenty of stats available, but it's beyond the scope of CES, and certainly beyond the scope of the keynote!

        What people didn't say is literally a non-story. I yawn when people make a fuss about what Microsoft did NOT say. This article is sensationalist hype.

        More than 7 copies of Windows 7 sold every second.

        A new member joins Xbox Live every two seconds.

        Etc.
        Tim Acheson
    • RE: CES: What Microsoft's Ballmer didn't say

      @Camden boy Go online and try and find ANY sales figures for Zune HD.

      You can't.
      cyberslammer2
    • Microsoft should concede they lost the OS fight

      And focus on providing Android with development software and Office suite.

      Whom ever does this first, with the advent of Atrix, will make tons of money this next decade! Add to that Intel's Micro SSD drives and you have one awesome package on any Android device!
      Uralbas
      • RE: CES: What Microsoft's Ballmer didn't say

        @Uralbas I thought Eclipse was supposed to be BETTER than Visual Studio, at least according to the Droid crowd. The truth finally comes out, eh? Everyone knew that wasn't true anyway. :-)
        Tiggster
      • RE: CES: What Microsoft's Ballmer didn't say

        @Uralbas You may wish to check your facts. Windows 7 is the fastest selling OS of all time. More than seven copies of Win7 are sold every 7 seconds.
        Tim Acheson
      • RE: CES: What Microsoft's Ballmer didn't say

        @Uralbas "...they lost the OS fight" Huh?
        ItsTheBottomLine
      • RE: CES: What Microsoft's Ballmer didn't say

        @therestofyou, not Uralbas
        Clearly, he's talking about the mobile OS fight. Your desktop OS figures are meaningless in this context and you just appear shill-y or possessing low reading comprehension when you bring it up.
        hawks5999
      • RE: CES: What Microsoft's Ballmer didn't say

        @Uralbas<br>The word is "whoever".
        DeusXMachina
    • RE: CES: What Microsoft's Ballmer didn't say

      @Camden boy: maybe when Samsumg, LG, Dell, HTC bring on models of the WP7 phones without the phone functionality we will get the "Zune 2", only it will be OEMs again, and not a Microsoft device... (I don't see why this would be difficult to do)
      Roque Mocan
      • RE: CES: What Microsoft's Ballmer didn't say

        @Roque Mocan
        Not sure who will make the device but Metro will be the UI for the next Zune.
        forbes9000
    • RE: CES: What Microsoft's Ballmer didn't say

      @Camden boy Zune is amazing, makes iTunes looks like trash. But nobody will agree with you, that is until they use it and see for themselves.
      Narg
      • RE: CES: What Microsoft's Ballmer didn't say

        @Narg
        If it is so amazing, then why won?t Microsoft release sales numbers? They can always resort to ?Channel stuffing? (think windows 7 phone Series, and Kinect). That way the can say we sold it, without admitting the sales are not as well as they wool like,
        Rick_K