The Consumer Elecronics Show (CES) in Vegas has already been a big event for Microsoft, and it doesn't even end until January 9. CEO Steve Ballmer reflected on the past year, and introduced some elements of where the company is headed.
"(It) was a very, very exciting year for our customers," Ballmer said. "We launched Windows Phone 7, Office 2010, and Kinect, and we introduced Internet Explorer 9 and Office 365. We saw great growth in our Bing and Azure services, and with the amazing success of Windows 7, it's truly been a year like none other." Microsoft has a billion customers, the company says.
"The products that I mentioned resulted from big technology bets that we've made," added Ballmer. "Bets on the cloud, natural user interface, new smart client technology, machine learning."
Here's Steve Ballmer's Keynote:
So what's coming from Microsoft?
The Next Windows
The next version of Windows will support System on a Chip (SoC) architectures, including ARM-based systems from NVIDIA, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments, the company announced.
"With today's announcement, we're showing the flexibility and resiliency of Windows through the power of software and a commitment to world-class engineering. We continue to evolve Windows to deliver the functionality customers demand across the widest variety of hardware platforms and form factors," said Steven Sinofsky, president of the Windows and Windows Live Division at Microsoft."
Ballmer introduced a new lineup of Windows 7 tablets. Including: a dual-screen PC from Acer, the Samsung PC 7 Sliding Series, and an Asus Tablet PC. Mashable has a good write up on these.
It will be interesting to see how the devices compete with the iPad in the future. My hunch is that when combined, they will do just fine. As long as consumers are using tablets with Windows, Microsoft will be happy.
Microsoft and Samsung unveiled the next generation of Surface, giving LCD panels "the power to see without the use of cameras." People can share and collaborate using a large, thin display that recognizes fingers, hands and other objects placed on the screen. More on this here.
The company is aiming for Xbox to become the "hub of your living room". They announced new Kinect-enabled entertainment experiences, and new Xbox Live gaming titles. Hulu Plus will also be coming to Xbox Live.
"It is your gaming system, but it’s your movies, it’s your TV shows, and it’s your sporting events. It’s your social interactions, all delivered directly to the biggest screen in your house."
The Xbox team introduced a new social experience called Avatar Kinect that will use Kinect's camera and sensor and facial recognition technology to let a person control their avatar’s movements and expressions; when they smile, frown, nod and speak. More on this here.
The company also affirmed a commitment to gaming on other platforms like the PC and Windows Phone 7.