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January 9, 2012 6:56 PM

CES 2012: Ballmer delivering final opening keynote

Posted by Janet I. Tu

LAS VEGAS -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer took to the stage at the Venetian's Palazzo Ballroom Monday evening for what is expected to be his final major address at the Consumer Electronics Show. Here's what's happening. (I'll update and add to the bottom of the post as events progress. Also, check out my colleague, Brier Dudley's blog. He's at CES too.)

6:30 p.m.: Gary Shapiro, president of Consumer Electronics Association, which runs CES, takes the stage. He talks about Bill Gates' first speech at CES where Gates talked about the coming revolution in consumer computing. Subsequently, for 14 years, Gates and then Ballmer have delivered CES' opening keynote -- something that will end with this year's keynote. "Microsoft took a risk on us early and we both benefited," Shapiro said. He makes a point of emphasizing the decision was mutual on the part of Microsoft and CEA: "We agreed to a pause."

6:35 p.m.: Ballmer comes onstage and Shapiro gives him a framed photo collage of Microsoft's years at CES. A video montage of Gates' and Ballmer at CES over the years -- not to mention Conan O'Brien and The Rock -- is shown.

6:40: Host of the evening is announced: Ryan Seacrest. Seacrest says he's long been a Microsoft fan. Seacrest starts a Q&A with Ballmer, who talks about the Metro user interface. Seacrest interjects: "When you said 'Metro,' you looked at me in a strange way."

They start out talking about Windows Phone. There's a demo of the Windows Phone user experience.

6:55: Ballmer says Nokia Lumia 710 and 800 will be available in Canada soon. He says he's really excited about the 4G LTE phones: The Nokia Lumia 900 and the HTC Titan II, on AT&T. Saying there are 50,000 apps for Windows Phones, he says the "Windows Phone line is clearly on the right track."

6:58 p.m.: Seacrest and Ryan talk about Windows 8. Ballmer (in an oft-repeated refrain by Microsofties) calls it a "re-imagining" of the Windows operating system. He then introduces a video of thin-and-light notebooks by various manufacturers running not Windows 8, but Windows 7.

7:02: Tami Reller, Microsoft's chief marketing officer, comes on stage to give a demo of Windows 8. There's nothing here that hasn't been shown before. The picture "password" capability gets some applause, though. (Instead of having a password, you can point to certain features on a picture of your choosing as your "password.")

Windows 8 will run on both x86 and ARM, and Metro style apps can run across the range of devices running on x86 and ARM, she says. But Reller doesn't offer more detail about that.

She talks about the Windows Store, the newly announced app store for Windows 8. The Windows Store will be global, in more than 100 languages.

She gives a demo of the Windows 8 user experience.

Reller talks about ultraportable PCs being announced that run on Windows 7. "Windows 7 today, Windows 8 tomorrow," she says.

Back to Seacrest and Ballmer. Ballmer says every Windows 7 PC will be ready for Windows 8 on day one.

7:20: Musical interlude: A tweet choir sings what people have tweeted about Microsoft at CES.

7:22: Seacrest asks Ballmer about Xbox. Ballmer says there are over 66 million Xbox users and over 40 million Xbox Live subscribers tuning in on a regular basis. While he doesn't say he expected Xbox's success 10 years ago, he does say: "I bet on it 10 years ago."

Ballmer talks about Kinect and how it's a part of Microsoft's work on natural user interface. He says the company has shipped over 18 million Kinect sensors in the last year.

7:25: Craig Davison, senior director of Xbox, gives a demo of Xbox and Kinect. He announces content partnerships with the likes of Comcast, Fox News, The Wall Street Journal.

There's a demo of Sesame Street and Kinect.

7:40: Ballmer says Kinect is being used by people outside Microsoft for a variety of purposes. Ballmer says Kinect is coming to Windows on Feb. 1. Says Microsoft is working with 200 companies on Kinect applications.

7:43: Ballmer talks about other Microsoft achievements last year on Office, with Skype, etc.

7:44: Seacrest asks what's next. Ballmer says Windows 8 is what's next. Ballmer talks about the Metro design being used in Windows 8, Windows Phone, Xbox.

Sez Ballmer: "In 2012, what's next? Metro! Metro! Metro! And of course: Windows! Windows! Windows!"

And Seacrest wraps it up. Seacrest - and Ballmer - out.

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