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2012 CES will be Microsoft’s last hurrah

Did it jump or was it pushed?

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Microsoft has said that Steve Ballmer’s opening keynote for the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in January will be the last time a Redmond head takes the stage, and it won’t be having an exhibition stand at the show after 2012 either.

The move ends nearly 20 years of Microsoft’s involvement with the show, both in giving the keynote and taking out acres of floor space to show off the latest technology to come out of Seattle. In a blog post Microsoft’s corporate VP of communications Frank Shaw said that the move was down to the changing priorities of the company and the timing of the show.

We have decided that this coming January will be our last keynote presentation and booth at CES. We’ll continue to participate in CES as a great place to connect with partners and customers across the PC, phone and entertainment industries, but we won’t have a keynote or booth after this year because our product news milestones generally don’t align with the show’s January timing.

The official explanation may however be a Redmond herring. There are rumours that the Consumer Electronics Association, which runs the show, was asking for larger than usual “donation” from companies looking to give a keynote and Microsoft may have baulked at the cost.

Bill Gates first took to the CES stage in 1994 to show off the forthcoming Windows 95, and quickly made the keynote his own, for both good and bad reasons. His talks were eagerly anticipated, not just for the content but also for the chance of watching new technology fail on stage.

Steve Ballmer carried on the tradition, although in El Reg’s opinion he was lacklustre at best – using the keynote as a sales pitch rather than leavening the mix with interesting stuff people might actually want to hear. Last year’s performance was a particular low point, with very little news and products shown off that never made it to market. ®

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