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CES 2011: Steve Ballmer's Keynote--Kinect Revamps, Windows Phone Updates And The Future PC

Jacob Chung |
January 5, 2011 | 10:20 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter

Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer announced in his CES 2011 keynote Wednesday night Microsoft’s goals are simple: be where the users are.

Ballmer’s keynote followed this very idea, overviewing the company’s technologies currently in the market and where it plans to be in the future. 

The future for Microsoft seems to be a growth out of its current technologies. Microsoft seems to be taking note of recent successes, especially in gaming and movile devices, and integrating new technologies into existing fields. 

In the home entertainment field, Xbox 360 will be integrating a controller-free multimedia experience. 

Following a successful launch of the motion sensing gaming technology with Kinect in 2010, Microsoft will be bringing the technology into existing services like video streaming, music, and social networking. Services like Hulu Plus, Netflix, and Zune media player will be controlled via voice commands and body gestures eliminating the need for a physical remote control. Also of note, the Xbox will integrate the facial recognition system through the Kinect device. AvatarKinect, will be able to read the faces of users and render them onto their avatars on Xbox live services.  

Entertainment advancements, however, aren’t limited to home systems. With the launch of Windows Phone 7 devices last year, nine different phones have hit the mobile phone market with 60 carriers worldwide. And with it, Microsoft integrated the Windows Phone devices into the Microsoft ecosystem, aligning Xbox gaming with mobile device gaming. 

The gaming integration will continue to grow as Ballmer announced new games such as the popular title Fable to be added into the mobile gaming world. Ballmer reiterated that the copy and paste feature as well as a performance-boosting update are coming in the near future for Windows Phone 7 devices.

In the PC front, new form factors were introduced for Windows 7 computers.

“Only imagination limits what you can do with Windows PCs today,” said Ballmer, displaying new computers like a dual screen Acer laptop and a Samsung laptop that slides down into a tablet form factor. Microsoft also unveiled a second iteration of the tabletop PC.

What was before an elaborate amalgamation of cameras and projections allowing for a touch computing experience on a table countertop has now been reduced to a 4-inch surface with infrared technology able to register upwards of 20 separate finger inputs.  

The keynote wasn’t without some letdowns. To the disappointment of many who have speculated, there was no mention of Windows 8. Instead, Microsoft demoed future hardware—Supporting System on a Chip (SoC)—that will allow for smaller, low-powered chips currently running small form mobile devices like smartphones to run full operating systems. 

To illustrate, Microsoft displayed computers functioning with lower power ARM and OMAP processors by Intel, Qualcomm, Texas Instrument, and Nvidia. All of them could run Windows 7 and attached software such as Microsoft Office. 

Ballmer concluded by saying, “Whatever device you use in the future, Windows will be there.”

Reporter Jacob Chung is reporting from CES in Las Vegas. Want him to take a look at something specific? Contact him here.



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