Today in his Consumer Electronics Show keynote, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer declared that Xbox is no longer a gaming device but an entertainment hub. And Windows will be everywhere, from your TV through Xbox, to your phone via Windows Phone 7, and on PCs of any type, especially through a forthcoming version of “Windows On A Chip.”
Below, my live blogging of Ballmer’s talk at CES in Las Vegas.
Ballmer has arrived. Windows Phone 7, Kinect, other products launched last year, big success, “a year like no other.” Thanks the over 1 billion customers around the world.
Xbox & Kinect
Wins last year came from big bets Microsoft placed on technology. TV, computers and mobile phones are most important devices. Decade ago, took bold step with Xbox, smart device that transported 10s of millions of people into world of Halo and other games.
Then launch of Xbox Live that transformed things with gaming in the cloud [except no one called it the cloud then].
Entertainment beyond gaming, so expanded Xbox Live to including movies, TV, Facebook and more. And just over two months ago, biggest step was launching Kinect to open entertainment to the entire family. With Kinect, you are the controller. There’s nothing else like it in the world. Xbox Live, Xbox 360 and Kinect made last year biggest ever for Xbox.
Now we’re getting a video of Xbox stuff. Xbox does rock. I own, should I confess this? Three — so we can do multiplayer gaming all over the house. I’m sad. But it’s fun.
Millions are listening to music, watching movies and doing things with Kinect. Ron Forbes from entertainment division now to demo some things. Ron’s showing Zune, which has movies as well as music. Oh, yeah, I forgot about the Zune marketplace. Now he’s talking saying “Xbox suggest a movie” and getting previews of featured movies. Now trailer of Inception is showing and then he swipes his hand in the sair to select another movie. OK, this all seems cool if it really worked while I was sitting on my couch, I suppose.
Now saying “Xbox resume” to get back to a movie he was watching already, one of the Twilight flicks. “It’s simple. It’s natural. It’s effortless” to control movies with Xbox, and no need to remember where the controller is.
Now we’re listening to music, the Tron soundtrack, saying “next” to move to other songs. “This is what millions of people are discovering, a new world of controller free entertainment.” [But really? I though they were mainly playing games?]
Netflix & Hulu Plus Get Kinect Support
How about using Netflix. Two years ago, Xbox first console to bring Netflix to the living room. Now in a few months, Netflix will be controllable through Kinect. Also Hulu Plus service will be coming later this spring.
Now talking about sports content. I’m zoning out, because I’m pretty lame about sports. Sorry. Showing Rose Bowl game going on, how he can make his picks live and trash talk his sister while things are going.
Now is avatar is doing stuff to see what his friends think will win in a particular game. There’s a friends leaderboard for college bowl games. Only the beginning of exclusive partnership with ESPN.
All your entertainment, all on Xbox Live, with magic of Kinect. And he’s done.
“Avatar Kinect” Coming
Ballmer we will make entertainment for interactive, social and fun [I think] than ever before. Oh, looking up, it’s not Ballmer. It him talking on the Xbox as an avatar, I think using Kinect to capture his facial expressions.
Now a short video showing a bunch of people talking to their Kinects and their avatars doing what they are doing in real life. This is pretty cool. Guess I’d better get a Kinect. I pretty much though it was down to being useful for only certain games.
All this is called “Avatar Kinect” and coming in spring for all Xbox Live gold members.
Lots of numbers on Kinect selling like nuts, 8 million sensors when only 5 million planned for, Xbox itself with lots of record setting. Expect more innovation in 2011. [Meanwhile over at Google, they thinking damn, maybe we'd better rush some games via the Android Market into Google TV]
Windows Phone 7
Talking using Windows Phone 7 [hate that name] that gives you Xbox Live on the go. [I do want to see this. Really, Call Of Duty: Black Ops, on my phone? Fable is coming, Fable coin golf is one game.
Now a video of more games coming to Windows Phone 7. Centipede. Great, I have that on like 6 platforms now. Monopoly. Zombie Attack! My kids will love that. The Sims 3. Need For Speed Undercover.
Windows Phone 7 is dramatically different from other phones. Ah, we're shifting to Windows Phone 7 now, clearly. Could they simplify task and make phone easy to use?
Pulled together best of Office, Windows Live, Bing to build a great phone and deliver. Reaction to product has been great. 9 phones across 60 operators in 30 countries. Recently added Kindle, BofA app, have over 5,500 applications for customers. Customers typically get access to 100 new apps every 24 hours, and more than half download a new app every day.
Job number one is showing the new phone to people. Once people see the phone, the fall in love with it. Customers tell them just that. Nine out of every 10 customers at AT&T say they'd recommend the product to others.
We'll continue to invest in it aggressively in the future. Next few months, series of updates to come. Addition of copy and paste and better task switching. Then will finish release to make phone available on Spring and Verizon in second half [think he said] of 2011.
7 Things About Windows Phone 7
Liz Sloan from Windows Phone team now up to do some demoing. Liz has two kids, and they keep her busy, and the phone is great with that.
1) Camera, see something you want to shoot, but by time you get the app gone, the moment is gone. Microsoft set out to solve that. Every Windows Phone 7 has a dedicated camera button, which works even if screen is locked. Press and hold and take the picture. That’s pretty clever, actually. Then you can share it, of course. Pocket to picture to post in a few seconds.
2) Glance and Go, “lock” screen and “start” screens both give you a rundown on key things. Start screen has live tiles that change, say your friends update status, you can see that on the tile [the tiles still kind of freak me out, but I haven't played much with it].
3) Voice Search. She says “in n out burger.” there are the results coming up from bing, shows those closest to her and can then see what else is nearby where she wants to go.
4) Bing is part of the phone. Dedicated search button. Instant answers from Bing provide direct answers without having to click to sites.
5) Hubs which organize things. Going into Office, and how she can keep notes in OneNote and sync across PC and the web. Any note can be pinned to the start screen.
6) Apps: BofA, Fandango, Amazon.com are some of them. She’s copying a note she made to buy an Xbox and pasting into the Amazon app [I thought there was no copy and paste yet].
7) Now showing games, shouting out a variety of them, saying next update will make games play even faster.
Steve’s back. When I get a chance to show people a Windows Phone, the feedback I get is very gratifying. Told it’s snappy, easy to use, beautiful looking. But now time to talk about the Windows PC. Going to revisit some announcements earlier today, now time for context.
Last year, at CES, talked about how Windows 7 was getting a good reception. IE9 beta used by 20 million people. Windows Live used by 500 million users. Hotmail deeply integrates Microsoft Office [I need to get back and try that]. Windows Live Messenger connects to Facebook, one of the most used apps on Facebook.
Wide range of form factors for Windows 7 machines. Inviting Mike Angelo from Windows team to show some of the new Windows 7 PCs that are coming.
Windows 7 From Convertible Laptops To Tablets
Here’s Mike. First machine, Intel’s new second generation of core processors, multicore CPU and GPU on same chip, blah blah all super fast and get 6 hours of live. Now showing a performance demo, IE9 using GPU to accelerate web browsing, showing a planetary simulation.
Here’s another multicore CPU from AMD, high performance PC in a small form factor. Just changing processor nearly doubled battery life to 9 hours. Showing 250 fish swimming fast in a virtual tank to demo the graphics processing.
Now showing Acer’s dual sreen laptop. Oh, that looks cool, virtual keyboard or you can slide things from one screen to the other.
Here’s a Samsung that folds into a tablet. That’s what I want my Macbook Air to do.
Now showing a Asus tablet PC, which you can use via touch or by using a stylus using “Ink” is you can write or color to highlight.
Microsoft Surface 2
Extreme integration, look at new version of Microsoft Surface. PC is 4′ thin, with biggest piece of Gorilla glass bonded to an LCD. PixelSense, infrared sensors let the PC see what’s on a piece of paper.
You can also due Surface in kiosks now, rather than just on tables. But tables are tough, you can drop beer bottles on them. Now back to kiosk, showing how the Royal Bank Of Canada [I think] sends flyers to customers, they can then bring those in, hold them up to a kiosk screen and have that red.
You’re going to see Surface PC in a lot of cool places in the future.
Windows On A Chip
Steve’s back. Only imagination limits what can be done with Windows PCs. Hang them on a wall. Draw on them. Do all types of things.
Next version of Windows will support being on chips from AMD, Intel and ARM. Made announcement today to let all partners work together to build in innovation.
The support for chips will make it easier to do things like longer battery life, have always on machines. Windows has breadth and depth and flexibility to deliver innovation.
Now Mike is back to demo Windows Support System on Chip (SoC)
Steve is back. Whatever device you use, Windows will be there. 2010 was incredible year for Xbox, Windows and Windows Phone. Xbox is no longer a gaming device but hub for entertainment. Windows Phone 7 is best new phone out there. Windows PCs will continue to adapt and evolve. Support for System On A Chip means Windows will be everywhere without compromise.
Era of new technology for consumers, Windows from the small screen to the big screen (though Xbox really isn’t Windows).
Thanks everyone, and that’s it.
Some Closing Thoughts
Looking for Bing news? Last year, Bing got a lot of keynote time (and Search Engine Land’s logo even got a cameo). This year, Bing was only mentioned in passing, briefly as part of Windows Phone 7. Not mentioned was a deal withToyota: Bing Scores First In-Car Search Deal With Toyota has more about that.
Still, it’s notable that by having its own search engine, Microsoft gets a pay-off that Apple lacks — it can use its own search engine on its mobile device. Apple needs to outsource to companies that are both competitive to it, either Google or Bing (or Bing-powered Yahoo).
Another striking thing for me is how Xbox, when it gains Hulu Plus support, because much more competitive in the internet-to-TV space. Here’s an area that Google hoped to dominate with its Google TV. Instead, its been the simpler platforms like Roku or Apple TV that I think are gaining more consumer acceptance.
Xbox may be a real rival — but how about search? Will Bing come into it? And what about the rumored Microsoft TV box? Nothing was said about this. If it materializes, will it compete against Xbox?
For more about internet-to-TV devices, see my post from earlier today, Internet-To-TV Players Compared: Roku, Apple TV, Boxee & Google TV.
For more about the keynote, including other live blogging accounts and the inevitable subject-specific stories that will come out of it, see this round-up from Techmeme.