What Will Ballmer Talk About At CES 2011?

At CES 2010, Ballmer and former Entertainment & Devices president Robbie Bach took the stage as rumors swirled about a possible HP-Microsoft tablet device. Instead, Ballmer and Bach took the audience on a soporific 45-minute tour of past Microsoft product achievements. Predictably, the audience -- which is accustomed to the thrill of the fast-paced consumer electronics industry -- wasn't impressed.

At this year's event, Bach did reveal the timing for the launch of Kinect (then known as Project Natal), and Ballmer did offer a three-minute glimpse at a Windows 7-powered tablet from HP called Slate. But aside from a demo of Amazon's Kindle app, there wasn’t much in the way of insight to Slate's capabilities.

As it turned out, HP's acquisition of Palm, developer of webOS, tossed cold water on the notion of Windows 7 on tablets. Microsoft says it's got a plan for tablets, but like many aspects of its mobile business, they're pegged to some murkily-defined point in the future.

However, next year's CES keynote is shaping up to be much different. Microsoft has undergone a mobile makeover this year and plans to launch Windows Phone 7 on devices in time for the "holiday" season. Ballmer will probably have several flashy new Windows Phone 7 handsets to show off during his keynote, and he may even have some news on the tablet front.

Sponsored post

Bach left Microsoft in May and won't be replaced, so it's unclear who will handle CES demo duties for Microsoft Kinect, the Xbox game controller that's slated to arrive in retail stores in November. Microsoft will definitely come to CES 2011 with some sort of Kinect demo, and the audience will probably eat it up.

If Microsoft wants to raise its profile in the consumer space, CES is the place to do it. And given the two major consumer oriented product launches Microsoft has coming this year, Ballmer's January 2011 keynote is sure to be much more interesting than last year's.