Microsoft Announcements at Steve Ballmer’s CES 2010 Keynote

This post was updated live during the keynote on Wed Jan 6th 2010.

All the juicy information on the keynote is below, but first, I’d appreciate 30 seconds of your time to support my session submissions for the Microsoft Mix 2010 conference by voting (follow the link, select a session, add to ballot, back up to repeat for other sessions, then submit the ballot)…

Looking to learn more about the Windows Azure Platform, Silverlight, Windows Touch or Windows Identify Foundation?

If you’d like to see these sessions in person at Microsoft’s Mix 2010 conference or the recordings that will likely be made available for free later on, please vote for the sessions before January 15th 2010, by going to the site, adding the 3 sessions to you ballot and submitting it

Background

Microsoft’s focus for the event

  • Screens woven into the fabric of our lives, specifically the PC and TV experience
  • Cloud – approach that combines power of client and cloud
  • Natural User Interface

Product/Service Announcements

  • Bing will be default search engine and MSN default homepage for HP PCs in 42 countries
  • HTC HD2 with Windows Mobile 6.5 exclusively through T-Mobile in the USA (more to say at phones at Mobile World Congress in Feb 2010)
  • Mediaroom 2.0 – IPTV solution for service providers such as AT&T U-verse (US) – live & on-demand content to the TV, Xbox, PCs (Windows 7 Media Center) & Windows Phones, enabled with Silverlight and IIS Smooth Streaming.
  • New slate form-factor PCs with Windows 7 coming in 2010 – will anyone notice once Apple releases their tablet?
  • Lots of cool games coming to Xbox in 2010 inc. Halo Reach (prequel to Halo 1), Crackdown 2, Fable III, COD MW2 content packs & Alan Wake (… a psychological action thriller delivered in episodes)
  • Xbox Game Room will have 1000+ old-style arcade games (with collaborative showdown) released over next 3 years starting in the spring.
  • Xbox Project Natal scheduled to be available for the 2010 holiday season – no new demos however

Demos/Information

  • Video of Seth Meyers from Saturday Night Live ‘thanking technology for everything is does for us’ (with comic sarcasm) – not sure there was a point to that…
  • There are 39 Million Xbox consoles around the world and 500M+ games sold ($20B+)
  • 11 Million users brought to Bing
  • Windows 7 had 3000 engineers, 50,000 partners and 8M beta testers
  • PC sales jumped nearly 50% the week Windows 7 launched
  • In 2009 33% more PCs sold at US ‘Black Friday’ (traditional retail sale day) than in 2008
  • Windows 7 All-in-ones shown: Lenovo A300 (thinnest on market), Medion Touch, Sony Vaio L
  • Windows 7 Laptops shown: Asus, MSI, Dell Adamo XPS (thinnest on market with very fast wake-up), Asus NX90
  • Windows 7 (‘full version’) Netbooks shown:  Lenovo, Acer, etc.
  • Windows 7 Gaming machines shown: HP NV15, Toshiba X505
  • Windows 7 3D Gaming machine shown: ASUS G51
  • Windows 7 on small-form-factor PCs shown: Acer Aspire Revo, Dell Xeno HD
  • Demo of digital reader with interaction and text to voice – Blio (1M+ books)
  • Demo of SkyDrive, Device Stage, Windows Live & Office 2010
  • Demo of Bing Maps zooming in with StreetSide
  • Demo of Ceton CableCard in Windows 7 Media Center – recording 4 HD channels at one time
  • Demo of what else you can do on the PC while watching TV on it (playing in background) – with horrible audio ‘stuck-record’ repeating glitch ;).
  • Demo of Windows 7 Media Center front-end to CBS (US TV Network)
  • Windows 7 slate form-factors coming in 2010 shown: Pegatron, Arcos & HP, with a video of the HP prototype specifically, with Kindle software running
  • Another Seth Meyes video on the ‘history of things that have happened in technology’… yawn…
  • Between Xmas and new year Xbox LIVE had 2.2M concurrent members online – busiest week ever
  • 20M+ Xbox Live users
  • A new member each second last week
  • A 1/3 of Xbox Live time is on non-gaming activities like buying extra songs, avatar clothing, etc.
  • 20M people have logged into Facebook, Twitter & last.fm, via Xbox Live
  • Demo of Xbox doing HD movie rental with instant streaming

Get further basic details from the MS press release, as well as a further press release about Natural User Interfaces (Voice, Touch and Beyond)

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UMPC and Tablet PC mobile goodness at WinHEC

For some reason, whenever Microsoft launches a new wave of non-PC form factors, it’s websites do a terrible job of pointing to the available hardware and how to buy one.  The sites are seldom updated with the latest hardware as it’s released.

Take for example Pocket PC Phone devices.  Go to Microsoft browsing site.  If you live in the US, you are immediately limited, largely because you are presented with what the carriers carry.  I buy most of mine through Expansys which can get me pretty much any device from Europe (where there’s always more choice) and yet the Microsoft sites seem to dutifully segment customers in a way that effectively limits choice to the uninformed.  HTC isn’t listed as a brand, and yet not only are they the original manufacturer for a huge proportion of carrier-badged Windows Mobile device, but they do sell their own brand – browse for HTC at Expansys and pick the appropriate country.

Back to the UMPC.  Take a look at the Microsoft UMPC site – click on the Hardware link at the bottom of the left-hand list.  You get to see just two devices and they are from the earlier round!

So here are some of the new devices that Bill Gates showed during the WinHEC keynote – see around 11:40 (video) and 13:00 (on stage) into his keynote video)

  • Fujitsu FMV-U8240
  • HTC Shift
  • Samsung Q1 Ultra (which is a horrible name since the previous one was just the Samsung Q1 and Ultra is the first world of UMPC so you’ll likely see the old model mixed into the results if you search for the new model)

These devices have varying availability.  On the surface, I’m inclined to look at the Shift because of the keyboard versatility and I’ve had plenty of HTC devices.  I also have a Fujitsu Tablet PC however, and that’s lasted quite nicely.  The Samsung Q1 was not cheap and I’m not sure about the split thumbing keypad – althrough it may actually be the most practical.  Having HSPDA built in, may also be a great plus.

You’ll probably want to consider things like:

  • Does it run Vista Aero?
  • Does it have built in 3/3.5G?
  • What Wifi spec does it have?
  • How long does the battery last?
  • How big is the screen and what resolution is it?

Bear in mind that none of these devices is likely to be that much cheaper than a regular notebook.

A number of new Tablet PCs were also shown on stage and in video.  I recall seeing the Gateway E-155c and E-295c.  There was also an official-sounding video from Dell posted yesterday to confirm rumours that they will have a Tablet PC coming later this year (but no specs). 

In a new Tablet PC I’m looking for these things (in no particular order):

  • Windows Vista with Aero
  • Convertible
  • Windows SideShow (which may be difficult wiring-wise with the convertible hinge)Widescreen
  • LED-backlit
  • Windows ReadyDrive-capable HDD
  • 6+ hours of battery life with standby swap capability
  • Pen and touch interface

I’m beginning to wonder if a UMPC would do it for me at home, rather than a full-blown tablet.

Tablet PC needs to push into the mainstream such that all notebooks at least have the pen and touch digitizers (and the stylus) – this isn’t as easy as it sounds though.

UMPC seems to be stepping up with specs, but battery life and price is still not there on the 2nd generation.  I think they do make a great round-the-house ad-hoc computer with the full power of Windows.