Microsoft's rumored Zune Mobile platform was a no-show during CEO Steve Ballmer's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) keynote on January 7. In fact -- somewhat surprisingly -- Windows Mobile got next-to-no minutes of fame during Ballmer's one-hour-plus worth of consumer-product highlights.
Instead, Microsoft focused on Windows 7. As expected, Ballmer told attendees of the Las Vegas convention that private beta testers could begin downloading Windows 7 Beta bits this evening. The fact Microsoft is labeling this build "beta" and not "beta 1" is further proof that there will be only one Windows 7 Beta, rather than the two (or sometimes more) that the Windows team has typically fielded in the past.
Any member of the public who is so inclined will be able to download the Windows 7 Beta bits on Friday, January 9, Ballmer said. The bits will be downloadable via http://www.microsoft.com/windows7.
Microsoft also is making Windows Server 2008 R2 (a k a Windows 7 Server) available to testers on January 8.
As to what comes after the Windows 7 Beta, Ballmer shared no new information about when to expect the Release Candidate or final RTM code.
Also as expected, Microsoft announced a new bundling deal with Dell, via which Dell will offer Live Search as the default search engine "on a majority of its new consumer and small-business PCs globally." Dell also committed to preload Windows Live Essentials, Microsoft's consumer software/services bundle, on these same PCs.
Ballmer also took the covers off a new five-year deal with Verizon Wireless, whereby U.S. subscribers "will be able to use Live Search to search for local business and shopping information; access maps and directions; perform general Internet searches; and find ring tones, games, wallpaper and other online mobile products and services."
Facebook and Microsoft also have inked a pact via which Facebook users can share their content and photos with Windows Live.
Other CES announcements from Microsoft:
* Microsoft has renamed its "Boku" video-game development environment for kids as "Kodu." Kodu becomes an Xbox Live Community Game to be launched this spring.
* Microsoft and Netflix later this month will offer software that will allow Windows Mobile customers to update and view their Netflix movie queue.
* Microsoft is productizing its Songsmith music-making technology that came out of Microsoft Research. (I'm not sure sure if this is the product I heard about years ago that was codenamed "Monaco" and described to me as Microsoft's GarageBand competitor.)
For those who've been following the months of pre-CES rumors, there wasn't much new announced tonight. And for folks who've been dabbling with earlier test builds and/or torrented builds of Windows 7, there wasn't a whole lot new in Ballmer's keynote demos, either.
If you watched locally or remotely, what was your take? Did Ballmer's keynote fall as relatively flat as Phil Schiller's MacWorld one yesterday?