Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer and Robbie Bach delivered the keynote last night at the 2010 Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas and it was the usual mixture of self-congratulatory boosterism and product and technology demos. Here is my list of highlights:
After a report on how well Windows 7 is selling, there were the PC demos including a prototype Hewlett-Packard slate PC that the technical press was pining for.
It looks like a touch enabled netbook to me and while it may have a niche, I suspect I would be screaming for a keyboard (or at least a stylus) in under a minute of usage. Perhaps more interesting were the ultrathin Lenovo A300 laptop with a 21.5" screen and the Sony VAIO home entertainment notebook with a 24" screen. How big does a laptop have to get before it becomes a single element desktop?
HP is making Bing the default Web search engine and MSN the default home page on all their PCs in 42 countries.
Ballmer put the usual lipstick on this pig and Robbie Bach appeared later to flog upcoming games (including another lucrative Halo version) and tout Project Natal, the motion sensing technology that will appear later this year to replace the standard controllers for some games.
Bach also announced Mediaroom 2.0, the latest version of Microsoft’s IPTV offering for service providers which now supports PCs and smartphoes as well as set top boxes and Xbox consoles for TV viewing.
Microsoft really did not have much of its own to show again this year. I am almost beginning to miss the goofy Bill Gates future technology skits.
This week the US National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) are holding their annual convention and Microsoft was there touting their wares. The big Microsoft news was the announcement of some new reference content provider customers and the promise for later this year of DRM (AKA copy protection) for their Silverlight “Flash killer”:
Today Microsoft unveiled details of Silverlight DRM, Powered by PlayReady, the content protection support coming later this year in Silverlight. Silverlight DRM builds on Microsoft’s extensive expertise and experience in content protection and support for hundreds of millions of media players and devices worldwide.
In addition to being compatible with the broadly deployed base of Windows Media DRM 10 content, Silverlight DRM will support live streaming, on-demand streaming and progressive downloads for connected experiences. With the extensibility and openness of Silverlight, third-party solution providers will also be able to build and offer content owners additional choices for their media protection needs.
Microsoft apparently intends to continue their dominance in commercial media DRM software and connoisseurs of the genre will recognize PlayReady as Microsoft’s DRM successor to the the ill-fated PlaysForSure technology that Microsoft threw overboard (along with some unfortunate partners) when they released the Zune.
Bill Gates delivered his last Microsoft keynote at the International Consumer Electronics Show yesterday and it was fortunately missing a lot of the goofy geek tech of recent years although the more staid and occasionally self-congratulatory tone has drawn some complaints about lack of Microsoft innovation (, [ 2]). You can catch the replay video online, but here’s a rundown of the new announcements:
Microsoft Corp. today announced the availability of Microsoft Mediaroom, the latest update to its award-winning Internet Protocol television (IPTV) software platform, featuring several new multimedia capabilities, including in-home personal music and photo sharing, dynamic MultiView (multiple picture-in-picture) capabilities, Multimedia Application Environment for development of interactive services and advanced applications, and digital terrestrial television (DTT) support. Microsoft also introduced the Microsoft Mediaroom Application Development toolkit, which provides service providers and third-party developers with tools to create compelling, revenue-generating TV-based applications that run on the platform.
With this latest release, Microsoft is renaming its IPTV platform Microsoft Mediaroom to better reflect the broader set of new connected entertainment experiences made possible today and the types of experiences anticipated in the future.
Microsoft’s Enrique Rodriguez, corporate vice president, Microsoft TV Business tries to explain the branding rationale and provides an update on the state of Microsoft’s TV business.
Update: Ina Fried provides a nice retrospective on Microsoft’s not always glorious history in the TV business.