updated 09:55 am EST, Fri December 9, 2011
Microsoft said scaling back CES presence
Microsoft may take a page from Apple and step back from major trade shows, Microsoft-focused journalist Mary Jo Foley said in the latest episode of the Windows Weekly podcast. Near the end of the show, she told of a source who understood that Microsoft would dial back its presence at the annual January CES show after 2012. The Windows developer would still likely have a footprint, but it would most likely drop the near-traditional Steve Ballmer keynote and, presumably, scale back the size of its booth on the show floor.
The same contact made it clear that the goal would be to copy Apple's strategy of focusing primarily on self-run events. By dictating its own schedule, Microsoft could unveil products only when they're close enough to being ready or avoid having to generate filler. Apple's approach helped set expectations, something which Microsoft clearly liked.
"This is the way Microsoft's going too," Foley paraphrased the source as saying.
Its CES keynotes in recent years have increasingly skewed towards recaps of recent updates and showing far-from-finished products. The company had several CES announcements this year, but most were minor or ultimately weren't going to ship for months. Other elements, like Windows Phone discussions, weren't new at all.
For Microsoft, the most symbolic keynote was its CES 2010 presentation. Knowing that the iPad was likely imminent, Ballmer pitched the HP Slate as a preemptive iPad killer and showed a very early Windows 7 tablet with no real details or release plans. The eventual Slate 500 wouldn't ship for another nine months and proved to be representative of everything Microsoft was doing wrong in tablets, amounting to being just a netbook without a keyboard and a premium $799 price. HP, deciding that the Slate 500 couldn't compete against the iPad, not only relegated the tablet to Windows tablets' traditional enterprise niche but bought Palm for $1.2 billion in the hopes of getting a more Apple-like alternative.
Doubts exist as to whether or not Microsoft will have much to show for CES this year. It may preview the Windows 8 public beta, but with a release not due until late February, it might not be in a presentable state. Microsoft has already released its major Xbox 360 Dashboard update and Windows Phone 7.5, leaving it with a handful of minor items like an LTE Windows Phone for AT&T as candidates.