Appearing at the 2012 CES for its last keynote address, Steve Ballmer made several announcements to the crowd at the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino. The last Microsoft keynote was highlighted with announcements about the incorporation of its popular Kinect motion sensing technology on its Windows 8 OS, and the upcoming release of Nokia’s first Windows Phone.
In a few weeks, Ballmer said that the Kinect technology will be on Windows PCs. A beta release for the new OS with the new Metro interface will be available late February, and the Windows 8 store will be offering a selection of free apps at the same time. Kinect sensors are now available on preorder at Amazon for $250 in anticipation of the Windows 8 release.
Ballmer added that: “Just as Kinect revolutionized gaming, we’ll see it revolutionize other industries, like entertainment, healthcare and more.” He also intimated that Kinect will bring interactive TV on the Xbox as well. Kinect has been exclusive on the Xbox 360 with 18 million of the sensors shipped in about year since its release. Microsoft is developing Kinect apps on the PC with 200 companies to enable it to go beyond gaming with gesture control. A video suggests you can play musical instruments and exercise with it.
At the AT&T event, Ballmer graced the stage to announce the Lumia 800. Odd that it should come from Microsoft, and not Nokia. He announced its availability at Microsoft’s US retail stores “in the next few months.” It will be sold unlocked, which indicates that Microsoft has yet to fine a deal with a wireless carrier. He also revealed a partnership with Fox to bring “Family Guy”, “Glee”, and “Bones” to Xbox this year, as well as Comcast on its Xfinity TV service.
As Microsoft’s last keynote at the CES, Ballmer was assisted on stage by actor Ryan Seacrest who ensured the 90-minute address moved smoothly. But there was no Bill Gates as some had hoped to see for a farewell keynote. The Redmond software giant has given 15 of the last 18 CES keynotes with Gates starting in 1995 prior to the Web making a splash. Last December, Microsoft announced it would no longer have much presence at the CES as it no longer fits with its product release timing. CES will now have to find another company to keynote next year’s event.