CES 2009: Live from the Microsoft keynote

8:00 Ballmer's on again to summarise. The summary is that there'sincredible opportunity ahead. And Microsoft might just be up to thechallenge, after y

incredible opportunity ahead. And Microsoft might just be up to the

challenge, after years as the unhip company everyone loves to hate.

After some pretty horrendous press post Vista, and feeling its mantle

slip to the likes of Google, open-source and cloud computing, it looks

as if the computing behemoth could be back in the ring with its

funkier, forward-thinking agenda based not on desktop monopolisation,

but on convergence, entertainment and – praise the Lord – simplicity.

7.50 A glimpse into the future with Microsoft research Concepts.

Again, cloud computing and convergence are key messages and the demo

shows how a student can utilise information from the internet into

study notes, customisable 3D models, social networking and Surface

computing. There's also a glimpse of a prototype flexible display.

7.40 We've now got a demo of a new Little Big Planet-style game

called Kodu on the Community Games Channel on Xbox Live. Again, a

pretty untapped market for Microsoft, this will allow buddding

developers to create and design their own games. A 12-year-old girl

demonstrates some ill skills in creating graphics, sound effects and a

whole level of a game. While not as visually aappealing as LBP, there

seems to be much more involvement in actual game creation.

7.30 It's Xbox time. Much is made of the successes to date of the

console, and quite rightly – 28 million colsoles have been sold, with

17 million on Xbox Live. We get short demos of Halo Wars and news of a

downloadable demo available 5 Feb, before full release on 28 Feb.

The social networking element of Xbox Live is the big message, and there's

a demo of a new service calles Prime Time. Essentially it brings

together elements of TV, gameplay and social networking to allow Xbox

Live players to participate in gameshow-style multiplayer challenges.

The demo game, 1 vs 100 looks like it could take Xbox Live beyond

insulting people in Halo, making the service much more family oriented.

Microsoft has obviously realised that the Wii-style family gaming is an

relatively untapped market for them – and games like Lips and now the

Prime Time service are hoped to change this.

7.20 Now we're on

to Media Center. The big news is Windows Anytime. It's PVR software

that allows you to go backwards in time to view shows that you've

missed on the schedule. Imagine Sky + unfettered by scheduling. There's

also a demo of the US Netflix service for Media Center, where users

have access to 12,000 streaming movies and TV shows, many in HD.


We're seeing the all-new Windows Live. It's become a hub for all our

digital activities – from the Facebook hook-up, to IM, easy intgrated

map search, Flickr. It seems to embody Microsoft's new dedication to

web-based cloud computing.

7:00 We're getting a demo of Windows 7. The interface has been

simplified and looks much easier to use than Vista. There are easy ways

to organise browsing screens – you can snap to fit, and shake a screen

to bring to front. There are also jump menus so you can see your most

recent activities at a glance.

Easy home networking is also a key message – I have to say that compared to most Windows set-ups I've seen, home networking looks much simpler (and Mac-like), taking about three steps rather than a whole day.

Touch is apparently in the DNA of Windows 7. We're being shown neat "pinch and zoom" function in Virtual Earth which looks just a little familiar to iPhone users. But there's also a tilt option to dip into 3D graphics too.

6:55 PST Widows 7. Ballmer claims is the best Windows ever – it'll boot more quickly

(than Vista presumably) and he stresses that they've spent a lot of time perfecting it (again answering critics over the rushed release of Vista)

Windows Media Center will be more integrated, and Windows 7 will support cool new interfaces like touch. The Beta of Windows 7 officially announced and will be available worldwide from Friday. There's also a partnership with FaceBook and Windows Live. Any of your Facey-B updates will now automatically pop up in Windows Live.

And word of a huge partnership with Dell – Live Essentials and Live Search on all business and consumer PCs worldwide.


PST We're getting treated to a video of some of the funkier devices to

tote Windows – Asus Eee PCs, Dell Studio Hybrid, Toshibe Portege, HTC

Touchsmart etc

6:45 PST He's talking about the idea of "three

screens" – the convergence of phone, TV and desktop. Ballmer claims

that the distinction between TV and desktop will blur –

internet-connected TVs are a big trend this year at CES.

Another big theme is cloud computing – bringing all three screens together in

web-based software and apps. Ballmer believes that Microsoft to be the

lynchpin of this movement

6:40 PST Steve is mentioning the

recession too. He says our digital lives will still get richer, and the

pace of digital advancement will not slow down. 8bn dollars invested

into R & D last year at Microsoft – ideas and innovation.

6:37 PST Steve Ballmer is introduced. It's his first keynote as CEO

since Billy G left. There's a short video on Microsoft's key

achievements. Xbox gets a big cheer.

6:35 PST President and CEO

of CEA, Gary Shapiro has taken the stage. He's talking about optimism

for the New Year in the face of the recession. This has been a

prevalent message at the show. Everyone is willing the economy to be

well again.

6:30 PST I wasn't far off! There is now two human beatboxers

onstage. Microsoft is pulling out all the stops to reinforce its cool


6:25 PST There's a single laptop on stage with Windows 7

running. Expect lots of fanfare for the new OS. And probably no


6.20 PST There's now some hip-hop going on. Maybe the execs will breakdance on stage.

6pm PST The Microsoft keynote is the stadium rock gig for the CES

faithful. Press, bloggers and analysts are filing in to a pink hued

room while we're treated to raucous tunes from Kings of Leon, MIA and

the Ting Tings. Microsoft is obviously very hip.

6pm PST The Microsoft keynote is the stadium rock gig for the CES

faithful. Press, bloggers and analysts are filing in to a pink hued

room while we're treated to raucous tunes from Kings of Leon, MIA and

the Ting Tings. Microsoft is obviously very hip.