Microsoft To Withdraw From CES

Consumer Electronics Show in January will be the last one for Microsoft, which says the tech fest is out of synch with its product cycles.

Paul McDougall, Editor At Large, InformationWeek

December 22, 2011

3 Min Read

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Microsoft said it will no longer have a formal presence at the Consumer Electronics Show, one of the tech industry's most high profile showcases for computers, tablets, smartphones, and other gadgets, following next month's event.

"We have decided that this coming January will be our last keynote presentation and booth at CES," said company spokesman Frank Shaw, in a blog post Wednesday.

"We will continue to participate in CES as a great place to connect with partners and customers across the PC, phone, and entertainment industries, but we won't have a keynote or booth after this year because our product news milestones generally don't align with the show's January timing," said Shaw.

[ Learn more about Microsoft's new enterprise operating system. Read Windows Server 8: An Inside Look. ]

Microsoft tends to release products, such as new versions of the Windows operating system, late in the year, meaning that consumers have to wait months to get their hands on offerings the company demos at CES, which is held each January in Las Vegas. This year's event runs from the 10th to the 13th.

"As we look at all of the new ways we tell our consumer stories--from product momentum disclosures, to exciting events like our Big Windows Phone, to a range of consumer connection points like Facebook, Twitter, and our retail stores--it feels like the right time to make this transition," said Shaw.

Still, the move may open Microsoft to criticism that its absence from CES has more to do with the company's failure to make significant inroads in consumer technology's hottest markets, smartphones and tablets.

Windows Phone 7's U.S. market share stands at less than 6%. In tablets, CEO Steve Ballmer demonstrated a number of slate devices at CES in 2010 and pledged that Redmond would be a player in the market, but almost two years later Windows tablets are almost nowhere to be seen.

Microsoft has said that its tablet strategy will kick into high gear with the release of the touch-friendly Windows 8, but no timetable has been set for that product's release.

Microsoft's decision to pull out of CES could also open up more stage time for its rivals, including Apple and Google.

Shaw insisted that the company's decision to withdraw from CES, where it has had a major presence for the past 20 years, is based on changing market dynamics. "Our industry moves fast and changes faster. And so the way we communicate with our customers must change in equally speedy ways," he said.

According to our Outlook 2012 Survey, IT should expect soaring demand but cautious hiring as companies use technology to try to get closer to customers. Also in the new, all-digital issue of InformationWeek: Inside Windows Server 8. (Free registration required.)

About the Author(s)

Paul McDougall

Editor At Large, InformationWeek

Paul McDougall is a former editor for InformationWeek.

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