Here at CES 2009 in Las Vegas, Steve Ballmer has kicked off his speech wearing Bill Gates' old shoes. Was TechCrunch right about the speech's contents? Update: Here's video of the keynote:
Or, if you want the quick and dirty, here's what unfurled in front of me, give or take a few guest presenters and some marketingspeak:
Ballmer comes out—my guess is he's smiling. He talks about the wonderful world of consumer electronics. He mentions this company called Microsoft. He also mentions the tough economic times we're all going to suffer through together. He will be optimistic, however.
He's going to talk about Windows 7. First, he'll announce the availability the Windows 7 Beta tomorrow for registered Microsoft beta peeps, January 9th for everybody else. He'll run through a lot of stuff we've already seen on Win 7, like DeviceStage, Homegroup networking, "Play To..." and other coolness like the Win 7 touch interface.
On the Windows Live front, he'll tell us that Windows Live Essentials is no longer in beta, and that you can now post photos on Facebook directly from Windows Live Photo Gallery, and save photos from Facebook directly to your Win gallery too. He'll also say that Windows Live Search and Essentials toolbar is gonna boot Google from Dell computers in February. Meanwhile, Verizon Wireless is going to implement Windows Live on VZW feature phones. IE8 is not out of beta yet, but it's coming.
For Windows Mobile, the big news, as presumed, will be full Adobe Flash support in the browser. (Sounds good to me, if only the browser was as good as, well, others.)
Ballmer is going to call Robbie Bach to the stage to talk about connected entertainment. Bach will start with some good Xbox stats—28 million worldwide, with 17 million active Windows Live members, and over a billion dollars spent on the service since inception.
Bach will introduce a number of sweet products:
• Windows Mobile app for managing Netflix queue
• Xbox Live community game builder called Kodu (already buzzed about)
• Windows Media Extender functionality in Toshiba products (announced earlier today)
• The latest edition of Ford Sync, which you can read about here
• Go back and forth on shows you didn't pre-record using Microsoft Media Room Anytime (I wonder what the advertiser stipulations are on that)
• Already known games Halo Wars and Halo 3: Orbital Drop Shock Trooper
• Xbox Live Primetime game 1 Vs 100 live gameshow coming in spring
What, no love for Zune? Almost everything's going according to plan so far, but stay tuned, because anything could happen. You know, come to think of it, Robbie Bach got to talk about a lot of the fun stuff. Is this the kickoff of the Ballmer Years? Or is it really the kickoff to the Bach Years? Steve would probably win at arm wrestling, but seeing the two of them on stage, I'm starting to think Bach could maybe take the bossman in a Cool Hand Luke-style a fist fight. [Full CES 2009 Coverage]