In front a packed audience of 3,350, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer gave a keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Ballmer stressed Microsoft's operating systems and capabilities on TVs, PCs and smartphones. Along with three Microsoft executives, he introduced new platforms and technologies that will be featured in all three product categories.
Whatever device you use, now or in the future, Windows will be there, Ballmer said. 2010 was incredible with one billion people experiencing Microsoft through Windows phone, Xbox live and Windows PC. You're able to use Windows anywhere you go from the small screen to the big screen with the ability to watch TV, listen to music, go on social networks and do what today's consumers are seeking.
For Xbox, Ballmer talked about the device's transformation from a simple gaming console to an entertainment platform. Xbox live has allowed for Zune, which is a platform for movies, TV and music, to be played on the Xbox 360. He also talked about the success of the Kinect, the gesture controlled controller-less controller.
Combing Xbox Live with the Kinect has allowed people to use gestures and voice command to control the entertainment aspects of the Xbox. All of this came to fruition in 2010, which according to Ballmer was,the biggest year in the history of the Xbox.
Ron Forbes, a member of Xbox's interactive business division, announced later this spring, Netflix and Hulu Plus will be coming to Xbox Live. This will allow for voice command and gesture control of Netflix and Hulu on an Xbox Live.
Another new Xbox feature Microsoft announced is Avatar Kinect. This uses facial recognition technology and body tracking on a person's Kinect Avatar, a cartoon version of them.
Xbox is becoming the hub of living room, Ballmer said. It's your gaming system, movies, TV experience, TV shows and sporting events. and social interaction directed to the biggest screen in the house.
Along with the Xbox, Ballmer focused heavily on Microsoft's PC presence. He said a little more than a year into its release, Windows 7 has been a success. It's the operating system on nearly 20 percent of all PCs connected to the internet. This number will continue to rise as more PCs adopt the operating system. Mike Angiulo, corporate vice president at Microsoft, went over a few of the ones that are set to be released this upcoming year including tablet/PC combinations from Samsung and Asus.
Angiulo and Ballmer also previewed the upcoming system-on-a-chip technology, which will create the next version of the Windows operating system. He said Qualcomm, Texas Instruments and Nvidia are all creating versions of Windows that will run on ARM architecture. ARM architecture has traditionally been used for smartphones, such as the iPhone.
Ballmer also touched upon the recently announced Windows Phone 7. He said already there are 5500 apps, 100 created every hour, and more than 20,000 developers registered with Windows Phone 7. He said nine out of 10 customers from AT&T said they would recommend Windows Phone 7 to others.
Additionally, Ballmer said the company is finishing a release that will make Windows Phone 7 available on Sprint and Verizon in the first half of 2011.