The year’s biggest consumer electronics event is coming up and this time it is special for Microsoft because this is the last time they would be there.
Will Microsoft Make A Big Show Of Their Last CES Year?
It is official now — 2012 would be the last year for Microsoft at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). This show is held every year and it is brand owned by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). Microsoft’s attendance at this event has always been very big. For the past decade and a half almost the Redmond based computer company has had the privilege of holding the first keynote of the event. They also occupy an entire hall at the convention center.
This time, they have announced that it will be their last year. According to official word from the CEA, the parting of ways with Microsoft was not “acrimonious”. However, the statement from Jason Oxman, Senio VP at CEA, said that the association had decided to give the opening keynote to someone else this time. This seems to have been the reason of Microsoft’s decision.
This suspicion was supported by a report from industry news source GigaOM, which quotes unnamed sources within Microsoft saying that the decision to pull out of CES was directly linked with the keynote problem.
Another report from The Verge claims that another (unnamed) source inside Microsoft has said that the main reason for CES changing the opening keynote this time was because Microsoft was not ready to pay the newly hiked up price that the CEA was demanding. New York Times followed up with a reflection on Microsoft’s past activities at CES — which weren’t all that big. It has been a while since Microsoft has announced something important at CES. It usually saves its mobile announcements for the Mobile World Congress that happens in Barcelona, Spain in February every year. The gaming department showcases its talents at E3 — the largest computer and console gaming convention of the year that takes place in June.
So now the question is what will Microsoft do at CES this year? Will they be going out with the proverbial “bang”? Tech news site Engadget spoke to a Microsoft spokesperson who said the company is not planning anything big for the event. It will generally be a wrap up of everything that has been released and announced in the recent past. So does that mean there will be no next generation Xbox and other big Microsoft reveals? Well not necessarily.
CES 2012: What The Rumors Say
There were two big rumors floating in the air before the official word from Microsoft about there being no big reveals at CES. The first one is something that has been going around since mid 2011 — the Xbox 720 or the next generation of Xbox. Opinion has been divided about what it actually could be, if it exists at all. It could be a slightly improved version of Xbox 360 with Windows 8 compatibility or it could be something new altogether. But a lot of people were hoping for a CES 2012 reveal with an E3 2012 launch.
The next one is of course about Windows 8. The latest version of the Windows OS is supposed to launch this year and there’s still no Beta. So a major portion of the crowd was expecting a CES 2012 release with the Microsoft’s usual opening keynote being dedicated mostly to it. Now that the opening keynote is not happening and the new industry word is that the Beta is coming in February — there’s not much hope of Microsoft doing this.
However, Microsoft might be playing the under-promise & over-deliver game here by asking us not to expect anything. Also, this way even if they can’t make anything happen in time for CES, they won’t be accountable.
What they could still release is ARM support for the latest Windows 8 build. They might release an update for Xbox for bringing in compatibility and interoperability with Windows 8 — which is bound to happen sometime soon.
Windows Phone Smartphones And Ultrabooks @ CES 2012
Most industry experts are of the opinion that CES this year would be dominated by Ultrabooks and smartphones. Ultrabooks are obviously going to flaunt Intel chips and preview builds of Windows 8 — what with this being the expected release year of Windows 8. Almost every large computer company such Toshiba, Lenovo, economy players Asus and Acer, LG and Samsung are looking at selling Ultrabooks. Intel has already created a 300M dollar fund for lowering the cost of Ultrabooks this year.
Windows Phones are also coming out in force this year. There have already been multiple releases before the CES and Microsoft just might be working with several manufacturers to release a number of phones next week.
So over all, even if Microsoft has decided to keep it low key at its last year at CES — there is likely to still be quite a few new things to talk about.