Ballmer reveals CES vision of Windows on any device

6 Jan 2011

LAS VEGAS – Windows will feature on any platform Microsoft decides is fit, CEO Steve Ballmer told the Consumer Electronics Show yesterday. He also revealed the software giant sold 8m Kinect motion gaming devices in its first 60 days.

Until now, Microsoft has been talking pretty much about a three-screens vision – PC, mobile and TV – but it seems that vision has been expanded to include whatever platform will take Windows, be it cars, refrigerators, tablets, you name it.

Much has been revealed by Microsoft’s decision to embrace ARM alongside stalwarts like Intel and AMD for its system on a chip necessity for future computing platforms.

People want powerful computing but with no added complexity on whatever device they use.

Microsoft, which spends an estimated US$8bn a year on R&D, has been hard at work and you could tell from some of the technologies Ballmer unveiled, such as an avatar of himself Xbox style that could recognise facial movements. “A new experience called Avatar Kinect will bring a player’s avatar to life in a whole new way, using facial recognition technology to let a person not only control their avatar’s movements but also their expressions; when they smile, frown, nod and speak, the avatar will do the same,” he said.

Ballmer revealed that some 50m Xbox 360 devices have been sold to date and that there are 30m Xbox LIVE subscribers worldwide.

He said that, on average, 100 new Windows Phone 7 apps appear in the marketplace each day and so far there are 5,500 apps available in the Marketplace.

Some 20,000 developers have registered to develop apps for the Windows Phone 7, which has sold 1.5m units so far within the first six weeks of its launch.

Some 60 mobile operators worldwide carry the Windows Phone 7.

A steely desktop vision

Ballmer revealed that worldwide, seven Windows 7 licences are sold per second and that right now 20pc of all PCs are connected to the Windows 7 desktop operating system.

Disappointingly, Ballmer didn’t show off a tablet running the forthcoming Windows 8 as expected.

But what he did show was the long anticipated next generation of Windows Surface and he showed a technology created jointly with Samsung that enables LCD screens to ‘see’ without the use of cameras.

The Samsung SUR40 for Microsoft Surface incorporates all the key features of the original Surface product – the ability to recognise fingers, hands and objects – as well as a new technology that has enabled a more flexible form factor.

“It was a very, very exciting year for our customers,” Ballmer said. “We launched Windows Phone 7, Office 2010, and Kinect, and we introduced Internet Explorer 9 and Office 365. We saw great growth in our Bing and Azure services, and with the amazing success of Windows 7, it’s truly been a year like none other,” Ballmer added.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years