Ina Fried

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Microsoft Pulling Out of CES After Upcoming Show

Microsoft on Monday said that Steve Ballmer’s keynote at next month’s Consumer Electronics Show will be the software maker’s last major appearance at the event.

The company has kicked off almost every CES in recent memory. Bill Gates hosted the opening night kickoff for many years, a mantle picked up by CEO Steve Ballmer since Gates moved away from his day-to-day role at the company.

Microsoft will still have meetings with key partners and customers, but won’t have a booth on the show floor or deliver the keynote speech at the event.

In a blog post, Microsoft spokesman Frank Shaw noted that the company’s product announcements tend not to line up with the show’s early January timing.

That has been clear to those who have attended the keynote in recent years. Ballmer’s talks have tended to be more of a look back at recent consumer moves than a venue for major announcements.

Microsoft did use this past January’s CES to announce support in Windows for ARM-based chips, holding a separate press conference at the event.

As Apple did when it pulled out of Macworld Expo many years back, Microsoft indicated that it is leaning toward investing more in its own events.

“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, Microsoft.com and our retail stores – it feels like the right time to make this transition,” Shaw said.

For those that want one last Ballmernote, though, Microsoft is going ahead with its talk at the 2012 CES, kicking off the show on January 9.

Update: The Consumer Electronics Association, which puts on CES, said in a statement that it wishes Microsoft well, and has plenty of companies interested in Microsoft’s prime booth space.

Here’s the full statement from CEA:

In the fourteen years that we have invited Microsoft to deliver a keynote address at CES, the company has unveiled some great innovations, from operating systems to gaming platforms to mobile technologies. Both CEA and Microsoft have agreed that the time has come to end this great run, and so Microsoft will not have a keynote at the 2013 CES.

The International CES is widely recognized as the world’s best stage for technology debuts, and each year we experience incredible demand from the world’s leading technology companies for invitations to keynote at CES. We will announce our amazing lineup of keynoters for the 2013 CES beginning in the early summer of 2013.

Microsoft has also informed us that, although their plans for the 2013 CES are not yet finalized, they will not request the Central Hall
exhibit space that they have used in past years. Given the huge success of the 2012 CES, with more than 1.8 million net square feet of exhibit space (the second largest show floor in our history) and more than 2,700 exhibitors, we have received expressions of interest for that space from the long waiting list for Central Hall exhibit space. Exhibitors will choose space for the 2013 CES during the 2012 show, and in past years available Central Hall exhibit space has sold out within hours.

Microsoft is an important member of CEA and we wish them all the best as they evolve their plans for new ways to tell consumer stories. We also look forward to their CES keynote on January 9, 2012.

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