Microsoft covered a gamut of product news at what may be its final appearance at the Consumer Electronics Show, though the head of the event predicted Microsoft would be back.
LAS VEGAS -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer gave one of his classically spirited keynote addresses kicking off CES Monday night, enthusiastically touting the latest Microsoft products. “There are 1.3 billion PCs in the world making it the most popular smart device on the planet," he said.
Ballmer received a gushing intro from CES head honcho Gary Shapiro, complete with video clips of past keynote appearances by Ballmer and Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates, thanking Microsoft for the 14 years the company has keynoted the show. But he also acknowledged a recent announcement the software giant made that this will be the last year it will participate in CES.
Shapiro call Microsoft’s exit “a pause” to recharge and expects Microsoft to return to CES down the road.
Ballmer said the spectrum of form factors from Microsoft’s partners supporting Windows 8 is “stunning. Intel has done some really good work,” he added.
“The thing I’m pumped up about is that we’re moving to 4G and LTE networks,” said Ballmer, noting the introduction of Nokia’s Lumia 900 smartphone this week on AT&T’s high speed network “It’s an incredible phone that’s blazing fast on AT&T’s network.”
Ballmer also praised another new phone running on AT&T’s high speed network, the HTC Titan II as “incredibly innovative” noting the device’s giant super OLED 4.7-inch display and 16 megapixel camera -- more than most dedicated cameras offer.
Microsoft’s Chief Marketing Officer Tami Reller than took over for a demo of Windows 8, showing off some new features and details, such as the fact that Microsoft plans to make its Windows Store of apps for Windows 8 available in late February with a range of free apps and available in over languages.
Reller confirmed Windows 8 tablets will be available for both x86 and ARM-based tablets and said developers would only have to write their applications once to have them run on devices using either chip. While showing off a new painting app and game Reller noted that Metro apps make use of the whole screen. “Metro gives your apps your full attention, front and center,” said Reller.
A semantic zoom feature lets you zoom out to see groups of files in small thumbnails. “This is incredibly helpful when you have large collections of files or photos” so you can see them at a glance.
While Windows 8 tablets support touch, Reller noted that both touch and traditional mouse input are supported.
Ballmer also announced that it’s Kinect controller for the XBox 360 is coming to PCs starting February 1.
Finishing out the keynote Ballmer answered the question of what’s next by shouting: “Metro! Metro! Metro!” and “Windows! Windows! Windows!”