CES: Ballmer keynote speaks of Microsoft’s future … and it’s still Windows

by James

Steve Ballmer began his first keynote with a brief look back of the 15 previous during the Gates’ era. He then paid tribute to Gates work in Africa. Then, looking ahead, Ballmer acknowledged that in the short term, the economy is going through what he considers to be merely a speed bump on the road to technological advancement. Tech marches on and it’s drumbeat is convergence. Ballmer said that Microsoft is committing a considerable amount of treasure to research and development to what he considers are three main areas: 1) the Convergence of the PC, phone, and TV; 2) How we compute through new interfaces that will augment the traditional keyboard – being voice and gesture recognition; and 3) moving our lives from the hard drive to the cloud. The future will meld these three and we’ll be even more connected online and we’ll be all the richer for it.

To that end, Windows will become the hub, the lynchpin to what Ballmer refers to as everyone’s “personal solar system.” And it will transform that system from a PC OS to connected environment. To that end, Windows 7 has become streamlined with faster boot times, less alerts, and a modular design which will bring more features as they mature and become available. It’s quite the departure from the “all up” variants which became larger and slower and more security prone. But Windows 7 changes all that with the basic , stable and secure OS that Microsoft can build upon. And everyone can play with it now as Microsoft will release the beta version beginning Friday. Then, users who need options, like email, video editing, and instant messaging, can download Windows Live! Essentials and begin their connection to the cloud. Part of the Windows 7 advantage is that home networking has become easier and more connected with other PCs, Media Players, and even game consoles. There’s even what Microsoft promises to be – seamless integration to phones using an improved Windows Mobile.

Lastly, Microsoft announces two near Halo games coming this year and the new Xbox experience which will have custom avatars, “primetime custom programming,” and Netflix movie downloads. But the most fun could be “KODU,” an application that will let users, and especially kids, make their own social video games! Then there’s a new tablet PC turned into a collaborative digital text book for students, Microsoft Surface, of course with flexible 3D color display and interactivity.

I dunno. By comparison to the Schiller MacWorld keynote we see what we always see between these two platforms. Both competing, but on different roads as they face a future without their founding fathers (although Jobs is still in the Apple captain’s chair for the moment).

The short term may be a bit rocky, but the road to Redmond looks pretty smooth.

Hat Tip – CoverItLive! Photo Credit – The Gray Old Lady

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