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2010 CES: Day 0 Keynote Address with Steve Ballmer

I'm covering Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's 2010 CES keynote address tonight, live from Las Vegas. I'll update this post throughout the keynote, and the newest info will be at the bottom.

As I write this, it's 6:35 pm and the keynote has still not started yet. "A small power problem" is to blame. Odd, this never happens to Steve Jobs.

6:48 - Almost 20 minutes late now. Good stuff. Queue jokes like, "This would never have happened if they used Macs." Seriously, they write themselves.

6:50 - Since it's late, I'll just leak everything.

Windows 7: Fastest selling Windows version ever.

Bing: Big progress in 2009. 11 million new users and grew share.

Xbox and Xbox Live: Set records in 2009. Over 39 million Xbox 360s in the world. More than 500 million games sold. 10 million people have used the 360's silly social networking apps (Facebook etc.). I don't know why.

Windows Phones: HTC HD2 announced. The Windows Mobile phone that doesn't suck.

Robbie Bach: Talks about nothing as usual. Gravelly.

Mediaroom 2.0: Microsoft's always-forgotten IPTV solution is getting revved. We're supposed to notice.

Project Natal: No really, it will ship in 2010.

And that's all, folks.

Thanks to Andrew LeRoy for the info.

6:55 - supposedly it's about to start. But you can stop paying attention, I just spilled the beans. :)

6:57 - Gary Shapiro's moment in the sun. I bet he dreams about this all year. And misses Bill Gates. And wishes Steve Jobs would return his calls.

Shapiro: 2500 exhibitors, 330 of them new to 2010 CES. Sadly, none of them are Apple.

Ballmer lives. :) Focus in economic uncertainty, etc. (And here I am, just telling my son the other night that writing "etc." is bad form. Etc.)

Queue the first video, a Microsoft keynote staple. This time: SNL's Seth Meyers. He's so precious.

Microsoft always presents things in threes. Why? Because that is the number of bullet points that will fit comfortably on a single PowerPoint slide. Thus, we get "three aspects of our strategy:" PC, TV, cloud. (What happened to three screens and the cloud? Or as I like to call it, Three Men and a Baby?) Ah, there it is... "SCREENS EVERYWHERE." No need to shout there, guys.

Bing. Ballmer is really bullish on Bing. He Bings and he Bings and he Bings. Bing, Bing, Bing. There. I said it thrice.

Xbox 360. What I said earlier. :) Plus over $20 billion in total game revenue at retail.

Bing again. It resonates with users. It's good but it needs to resonate with a few more, I think.

Looks like Ford Sync is getting an update tomorrow. Ford CEO will be talking tomorrow. New deal with Kia (not Sync?) called Uvo.

Zune HD - "Rave reviews." A bit misleading about Zune Marketplace being in 17 countries. That's only available on the Xbox 360, and not with Zune devices. Zune HD is USA only.

Windows Mobile. The name that must never been spoken hath been spake. They brought a new version to market. Who knew? Announces HTC HD2 (the only WM phone with an iPhone-like screen) will ship on T-Mobile.

Windows 7 - biggest launch of 2009. For the entire industry, methinks. An "unprecedented effort," but then they all are. 3000 engineers. 50,000 partners. 8 million (official) beta testers. Note that Microsoft had three goals for Windows 7. Told you so. Anyway, Windows 7 is the fastest selling operating system in history. 94 percent satisfaction rate. That's nice. But how many copies have you sold?

[cricket chirps]

300 million PCs shipped in 2009. That doesn't answer my question since 75 percent of them shipped before Windows 7 launched. There are over 4 million Windows applications. Again, nice, but not cutting to the heart of the real question.

Windows 7 demo ensues. I like the line, "Windows 7 is a rising tide."

More boring PC discussions ... if you were awake during the Windows 7 launch, you got most of this, though of course there are some new PCs from many companies now as well.

Blio bookstore for Windows. How dare they promote a non-Kindle application. :)

More demo: Office Web Apps and Office 2010 for consumers over Windows Live SkyDrive. This is nice, because when people think about editing and collaborating, SkyDrive is what jumps immediately into their minds. Now Bing. Geesh.

Not that he really highlighted this, but my God, they are doing a Media Center demo. A bit of overstatement: The notion that a dorm PC is going to have four HD tuners in it and a connection for each is more than a bit of a stretch. That's a feature for upscale homes right now. And now Media Center has stalled. Have I mentioned yet the peril of putting a TV in your living room?

And now MediaRoom. It's like Media Center, sort of. It's primarily available internationally, if I remember correctly. Basically cable TV set top box software, or what cable would be like in this country right now if Bill Gates hadn't screwed up negotiations with the cable companies a decade ago. (Read "World War 3.0" for details.)

MediaRoom 2.0 goes beyond the set top box and can be delivered to PCs and Xbox 360s. You know, like Media Center, sort of. You know, I bet this thing is excellent. I also bet almost none of us will ever get the chance to use it.

Ugh. More of the new PCs. I'm getting itchy to leave for Digital Experience. Plus it's getting late for us East Coasters.

Ahhh... Slate PCs. This is Microsoft's answer to the upcoming Apple Tablet. You know, the Slate PCs we've had since 2002. But there's a prototype of an HP slate device that's coming out later this year. It looks amazingly like many of the Apple mockups we've seen. And it's running the Kindle PC software, thank you very much. :) Queue a second Seth Myer video, this time on the HP tablet.

Robbie Bach takes the stage. He's the guy responsible for the Xbox 360, Zune, and Windows Mobile. So now you know who to blame. Plus, he always looks angry, so it's not like you're going to ruin his day.

Xbox 360 - lots of games coming (including a one-time launch title, Alan Wake) plus COD: Modern Warfare 2 content packs first on the 360. Yeah, baby. Lots of sequels, of course. Nothing unexpected. Halo Reach, a prequel to Halo 1. "Halo is the classic battle between good and evil." I thought it was between hype and fanboys. You could put the Halo name on a Hello Kitty game and kids would line up at midnight to buy it. In fact, I think Microsoft did that a year ago with some RTS game.

Xbox Live "offers much more than multiplayer gaming." I disagree with that statement strongly. :)  Lots of non-gaming stuff coming in 2010, so just a heads-up now that you can tune out for most of the year. (I'm curious that he's pushing Netflix, since you have to pay to use it on Xbox, but its free on PS3 and on the Roku box.) And let's be very clear here: Xbox 360 Avatars are lame. Not as lame as using Facebook on the 360, but very close.

Game Room is a new Xbox Live feature where you can play classic video games. Sadly, using your Avatard. They're promising over 1000 games in there by the end of the year. Relax, they're not free. But you can play on both the PC and 360 supposedly. Same games. Curious to see that.

Project Vaporware Natal - Finally, some discussion about Natal, which we've long known is going to ship in time for Holiday 2010. And it is. Bach is trying to play up the years of R&D and 1000 patents that went into this instead of just owning up to the fact that they came up with the idea for Natal only after the Nintendo Wii destroyed them in the market. You know, it occurs to me that if Microsoft is smart, they'll simply call this thing Project Natal and not give it some lame name. Of course, this is Microsoft we're talking about, so expect some lame name.

Give them some credit for Apple-scale hyperbole, however: Natal supposedly measures trillions of body movements one thousand times every second. In fact it's a magical experience. It does sound like magic. It's not just movement based, but also voice controlled. That's good, because I already scream at my Xbox 360 all the time.

Robbie Bach has left the stage. People start putting away their mace. Oh wait, now Ballmer's back. No one knows what to do.

It's the ... future. [Hands wave mystically]

And it's over. Off to the Mirage for Digital Experience... See you in the morning!

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