CES: Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer Keynote Speech

Steve Ballmer and Ryan SeacrestLast night, I sat down and watched Steve Ballmer’s final keynote at CES. Steve took the stage with Ryan Seacrest for a chat. Below are the notes from the speech but I’ve also highlighted the 3 things that you need to know if you don’t have time to go through it all:

  • Microsoft Windows 8 Public Beta will be ready in February 2012. This was announced in December but Microsoft is notorious for missing deadlines so it is nice to hear that they’re still on track.
  • Microsoft is going to disrupt television. They are looking to make shows two-way interactions via Xbox. In other words, television will no longer be just a lean-back technology
  • Kinect will be available for the PC in February 2012. In my mind, this is Microsoft’s admission that gaming can occur on any device, not just a specific console since NUI’s (natural user interfaces) are the wave of the future.
Finally, my favorite line by Ballmer came when he spoke about the Kinect and tried to explain to Ryan what is NUI. He said that a natural user interface is when technology disappears or melts away — in other words, we don’t think about the technology anymore. I myself struggle with communicating the concept of NUI’s to a business person so it was refreshing to get his perspective.

Full notes are below:

9:40 PM Ryan Seacrest taking the stage; explains partnership with MSFT Bing. Ballmer hugs him; Ryan makes fun of his height.

9:41 PM Ballmer to talk about innovations on phone, PC, Xbox, and TV’s. Cools to see Metro interface/ live tiles in the background.

9:43 PM Ballmer is showing it off on a Nokia device; says that Windows Phone is about putting people first and highlighting your relationships. Explains how easy it is bring information together.

9:45 PM Derek Snyder (Sr Product Manager, Windows Phone) comes onto stage. Shows off “People Hub” that brings information about favorite people together. Shows how he great it is to see information for a specific group. Talks about they’re using Facebook Chat and Window Messanger together. Can also dive into conversations across all communications with a specific user. Phone also has a voice recognition (app crash stirs audience!). Demo’s live tile that shows off critical data without forcing user to dive into an app. Showing off how apps share information.

9:54 PM Ballmer talks about new LTE phones: Nokia Lumia 900 with LTE from AT&T  with 4.3″ AMOLED display, HTC Titan 2 with 4.7″ Super LCD and 16 megapixel camera.

9:56 PM Changing to Windows PC’s. Ballmer excited about the competition. Talks about the way that Windows PC’s have spurred innovation. Ballmer mentions that people have moved from desktops to notebooks. Ballmer pumps up Intel.

9:58 PM Ballmer shows off video of various Windows 7 PC form factors. Samsung Series 9 HP NV14 Spectra — lots of awesome looking ultrabooks.

10:01 PM Tami Relleer (CMO, Windows) takes stage. Mentions how Windows 8 introduced at CES 2011. “No compromise Experience”: effortless/flexibility of tablet but the power of a PC. Lock screen shows off critical bits of info (like unread email). Device uses picture password. With Windows 8, get charms with swipe from right. Launches finger-painting app which takes over the entire screen. Windows 8 runs on ARMS and x86 chips. Apps will run on both chipsets. Windows Store in now populated (vs. empty at MSFT Build Conference). Apps will connect people to as many as possible. Shows off Cut the Rope app — partnered with ZeptoLab to create an HTML5 app game. Shows seamless app switching by swiping from left. Windows Store to launch in late February — only free apps at first. Will have free and paid apps across 200 languages later in the year. Explains semantic zoom — can see how easy to manage apps by zooming out — can rename grouping. Talks about how Win8 works with touch and pointer device (mouse + keyboard). Can also use search to find an app. Apps share via app contracts — will share info without leaving app, makes for a richer experience. Demo’s snap function where two apps can be visible on the same screen at the same time. Tablet is very responsive. Next Windows 8 milestone will come in late February 2012. Samsung Series 9 is available in 15″; Dell will announce a new PC tomorrow.

10:18 PM Ballmer says that Windows 7 is the most successful OS – 500 M users. And Windows 7 PC will be compatible with Windows 8.

10:19 PM Tweet Choir. Impressive vocals but this is the lamest part of the show so far!

10:23 PM Gaming Discussion: XBox. Ballmer claims the most successful console: 66 M Xbox Users; 40 M Xbox subscribers tuning in. About delivering entertainment that you want, making it easy. Creating a different entertainment experience — Kinect is a leading part of this experience. Sold 15 M Kinect units.

10:26 PM Greg Davidson (Microsoft Xbox Team). Shows how he can control console via his voice. Discovery powered by Bing. Says “Bing [actor name]” and it brings up movie.

10: 28 PM Broadcast temporarily suspended due to intellectual property.

10:30 PM And we’re back! Talks about 26 of the most popular channels being broadcast live from Verizon FiOS will have program guide. Additional partnerships: Comcast Xfinity (launching library of top shows and movies), News Corp (bring Fox, WSJ Live, Fox News Channel and IGN), AT&T U-Verse. All coming this year!

10:34 PM Jamie Bauer and Ansley demo-ing two-way Xbox TV. Creating new experiences with the TV. Sesame Street TV via Kinect. Shows how kid can throw a coconut into basket — kid can shift from lean back mode to active mode. Also demonstrate how kid is a part of Elmo’s world. Not just watching — being a part of the TV. Coming later on this year!

10:40 PM Steve says that it will impact things like healthcare and education. Kinect commercial plays. Announcement that Kinect is coming to Windows in February!!!

10:42 PM Ryan asks what else is going on at Microsoft? Ballmer talks about Sync installed in Fords; 4 M since 2007, 9 M additional cars in the next 3 years. Office 2010 is the fastest selling version of Office; moving to the Cloud and stunning competition to Google Docs. Since CES last year, MSFT acquired Skype: 200 M people who used 300+ B minutes of voice and video in the last year . Bing reached 30% marketshare in US.

10:45 PM Final question: what’s next? Windows 8 and dynamic, more natural user interface. Ballmer makes fun of his “developers, developers, developers” chant by saying “Metro, Metro, Metro.”

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  1. @RyanSeacrest:twitter has actually worked with @microsoft:twitter for a while – just admit that you’re just not as hip! 😉

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