CES 2011: Steve Ballmer states the case for Windows
Users don't care what kind of microchip powers their devices and nor should they, writes Matt Warman
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer claimed that Windows has "the breadth and depth and the flexibility to support and deliver the next generation" of computing devices when he gave the opening keynote at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show.
As he presided over demonstrations showing how the technology of the future will be controlled by voice and gesture, running on everything yet offering a coherent experience, it was hard not to agree with him.
He announced the impending launch of Avatar Kinect, upgrading the Xbox accessory for Live Gold subscribers so that their onscreen representatives’ facial expressions could be included in gameplay or video conferencing.
He also said Netflix, HuluPlus and ESPN would be added to the platform. When he showed off a dual-screen laptop, announced in August by Toshiba, he got whoops of applause from the CES audience of press, dealers and analysts.
Most important, however, was Mr Ballmer’s announcement that Windows will now run on chips associated with British firm Arm Holdings, more usually associated with mobile phones.
Yet this is a difference that consumers will not notice, and nor should they. In an age when Apple has trained all of us (often by osmosis) to expect technology simply to work, only business analysts should care what the chip inside is made of.
So when Microsoft says its greatest, latest developments are under the hood, its millions of consumers could be forgiven for looking for a whole new vehicle.
Motorola and BlackBerry, for instance, both demonstrated new tablets, the Xoom and the Playbook, that enhance the mobile experience on or close to the desktop. This dynamic sector is the one that’s setting the agenda.
Microsoft’s plea for excitement over the addition of new movie channels on Xbox, for instance, is both laudable and born of the same misunderstanding.
Mr Ballmer makes a big deal of consumers being able to watch Netflix. Consumers simply want to watch a film. Apple, Google and even BlackBerry clearly understand that. If Microsoft does, it’s hiding it well.