CES: Few surprises at Ballmer’s last keynote

CES: Few surprises at Ballmer’s last keynote

CES: Few surprises at Ballmer’s last keynote
February 11
08:18 2016

CES: Few surprises at Ballmer’s last keynote

So there was no mention of the Xbox 720 after all. (I got that one right, I guess.) Instead, Steve Ballmer used his final CES keynote speech to talk about Windows Phone, Windows 8, and Xbox Kinect.

In fact the biggest announcement as far as I was concerned was the news that Kinect is now officially coming to Windows, although others were more interested in the announcement of the 4G Nokia Lumia 900 Windows Phone handset.

Actually, the real theme of the evening – if you resist the tempation to say ‘predictability’ – was the Metro interface made famous by Windows Phone 7 and now largely consistent across Windows 8 and Xbox Live. Indeed, Ballmer initially summed things up with the words ‘Metro, Metro, Metro’ – in a parody of his own ‘developers, developers, developers’ meltdown of years ago – before changing his mind and repeating the word Windows.

The final keynote

The big news in the buildup to CES was that Microsoft was pulling out – no more keynotes, no more booth, after 2012. In commemoration of this fact, CEA boss Gary Shapiro presented Ballmer with a large memento of the happy days.

Ballmer CES presentationWindows PhoneWindows 8 tabletWindows 8 tablet

There was some smart smart integration on the apps, too. One feature is called app contracts, and allows apps to talk to each other and share information (with your permission). So Reller used one app to find a recipe, then brought up the ‘Charms’ – simple, frequently accessed tools – by swiping from the left, and shared this information with a messenging app.

The two apps could sit side by side, too – apparently apps are smart enough to know the optimal way to present their information alongside other apps.

Windows 8 isn’t ready yet, though, so there was plenty of talk about how great Windows 7 is – or rather, how great Windows 7 PCs have become, with a video of some desirable thin-and-light models available now. Ballmer claimed now is the perfect time to buy a Windows PC, because – and this is a great soundbite – every Windows 7 PC will be able to run Windows 8 from day 1.

Xbox Kinect

Microsoft seems to be very pleased with the way things are going with Kinect. So much so that it’s bringing the motion-sensing technology to Windows, as of 1 February. It’s going beyond gaming, too, with the developers working on Kinect-enabled applications including healthcare and automobile companies.

There were some interesting developments for Kinect showcased tonight. Tying in with the theme throughout the Xbox section of being an entertainment centre rather than a games console, we were shown an ‘interactive app’ for kids: Sesame Street.

It was hard to see exactly how it wasn’t a game, but I’d guess the difference is that new content is regularly produced in the normal TV fashion, but it’s just that the TV show can respond to actions detected by the Kinect. So when kids make throwing gestures at key points in the show, say, objects land in the characters’ hands. Microsoft called this ‘two-way TV’.

Again, this seemed pretty slick. It’s coming later this year.

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