Microsoft's CES Keynote was a major snooze

Greetings Readers!

As I am sure many of you are aware, last night was Microsoft’s CES 2010 keynote and if you watched it, you know that the most exciting thing that came out of the keynote was the power failure that delayed it close to 30 minutes (We live blogged it here).  As I stated last night, I would give my thoughts, both good and bad right here (Disclosure: I am a Microsoft Student Insider), so here we go.

I was rather surprised at the lack of announcements coming out of the keynote compared to years past.  For those hoping for a big announcement regarding the rumored new features behind Ford’s Sync, you are out of luck.  Those are apparently being saved until Ford’s keynote.  Hoping for a major announcement about the Zune HD?  Nope, nothing here either.  Windows 8?  Wishful thinking.  A portable version of the Xbox?  This will remain every gamers fantasy.  What was announced?  Ballmer really didn’t announce much.  He gave some lines about Windows 7 being the fastest selling OS of all time and some analyst speculation that PC sales will increase considerably this year but I don’t really call those announcements.  Steve announced that the HTC HD 2 running Windows Mobile will be coming to T-mobile but I am not sure anybody cares since we are talking Windows Mobile after all and T-mobile doesn’t help either.  Steve said they would talk more about the future of Windows Mobile at the World Mobile Congress in Barcelona next month.  Ballmer did show off some prototype “Slate PCs” that will hopefully combat anything Apple announces later this month.  The one he really demonstrated was an HP prototype that was running Windows 7 and the Kindle PC software to demonstrate how good of an e-book reader it could be and it looked to be about the same size as the Kindle 2.  Sounds nice and I will definitely buy one, but if you are going to try to compete with Apple, you need to show something that will come out a little sooner rather than some prototype.  Wait, you really wanted to know what was announced?  Ok.

As far as REAL announcements go, there are a couple fairly minor announcements.  Bing is now going to be the default home page and search engine for all HP computers.  Excited yet?  They also demonstrated what a Cable Card and a pc in your tv could do and said that with it, you can record 4 HD channels simultaneously which was probably the most impressive thing from they keynote.  They talked a bit about Media Room and some partnership with AT&T’s U-verse that I still don’t understand and finally they had a couple interesting Xbox announcements.  Besides all of the interesting number like units sold and games sold, Robby Bach announced that Project Natal will ship as an attachment to existing Xbox 360 systems in time for Christmas 2010.  No price although I would expect that around E3.  There was also no demo which was kind of disappointing.  They also teased a new Halo game only to have it turn out to be a trailer for Halo Reach which was announced back at E3.  I was rather disappointed but the audience seemed to love it since they could see the trailer and everybody watching the stream could not.  The big Xbox 360 announcement was Game Room.

What is Game Room?  Game Room seems to be a virtual space similar to the PS3’s Home where you can run around a giant arcade as your avatar and buy and play old arcade games that look like the arcade units you would spend tons of quarters on in years gone by.  Over 1000 games are planned for the next year that will be released in weekly batches that you will have to purchase.  The coolest part is that this will be not only for the Xbox 360 but for PCs too!  How much are these games going to cost you ask?  If you want to play an arcade game on both platforms, you will be paying 400 Microsoft points aka $5.  To get it on one platform, it is 240 points or $3.  If you really want the old school experience, you can pay 40 points or $.50 and get two quarters worth of playing time on the old machines.  The games can be played with other people, in 1080p and there are cross-platform leaderboards and achievements.  This is coming in the Spring update to Xbox Live.  Personally, I am really looking forward to this because lately I have had the urge to start buying old arcade machines and turning my basement into a small arcade but now I will be able to do it virtually instead of having to completely redo the basement.  This was the only real announcement with any cool factor to it other than the HD recording.  If you would like to see the demo that the people watching the live stream couldn’t watch, you can check it out here.

That was pretty much about it.  It was a very boring keynote and ended kind of out of nowhere.  It certainly doesn’t make me super excited about Microsoft this year but hopefully that will change.  What did you think about the Microsoft CES 2010 keynote?  Good?  Bad?  Boring?  Exciting?  Let us know!