CES 2011: Microsoft dominates

Microsoft stole the show at this year's Consumer Electronics Conference

Microsoft dominated this year's CES in Las Vegas. The star of the show was, undoubtedly, the new Asus Eee Slate, which was unveiled (from about 41 mins into the video which is well worth watching) during the opening keynote address delivered by Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft.

A few samples of the new generation of tablet devices running Windows revealed alongside the latest offering from Asus, but the Aee Slate is impossible to beat -- it's the world's most powerful tablet, by far. The Asus Eee Slate is a full-power PC running Windows 7, with an Intel Core i5 CPU, 4GB memory, 64BG solid-state hard drive, fast wireless networking and Bluetooth, full HD (1080p) with HDMI out, and more! It goes on sale this month, and is already available to pre-order at the Microsoft Store and on Amazon. Best of all, the Eee slate only costs about £700 ($999)! [Of course, these are just the first in a new generation of mobile devices running the full Windows OS, and the hardware will only get better and cheaper from here.]

The tech blog Mashable perfectly captured the spirit of the keynote in one headline: "Microsoft wows CES crowd with Windows 7-powered tablets". Microsoft's keynote was a bit long for the less hardcore techies, but it impressed the crowd and delivered in terms of showing-off new gadgets (which is what CES is really about). Several times, Ballmer's presentation was punctuated by frequent applause, and a few times he had to wait for while the cheering to die down before continuing.

CES 2011 Keynote Speech

Source: Microsoft's News Centre.

Some of the new tablet devices shown at CES, for example running the Android OS, were blatantly vapourware. The web is already littered with "hands-on demos" of these devices, which in fact people weren't allowed to handle, and what you saw on screen was literally just a video playing -- not real interaction. In contrast, the new Windows 7 tablets were available to play with, some were on show in the Microsoft booth, and some go on sale this month. Let's face facts. Microsoft has won the war. Apple and Google both brought a knife to a gun fight.

The dilemma faced by Apple and Google is embodied beautifully by the dual-boot Windows/Android breed of tablet unveiled at CES. THere is literally no reason whatsoever to use Android when you have Windows. There's so much you can do on Windows that you can't on Android, and anything you can do on Android you can do on Windows (and do it better). On the other hand, wait, let me just close down Photoshop, Word, Excel, Powerpoint and IE9 so I can boot-up Android and download the tilting beer glass app from the Android Marketplace -- I don't think so! ;)

The keynote also included some amazing demos, I only wish I had time to write about all of them. If I have time later, I'll update this page with some thoughts on the new Microsoft Surface 2.0, Windows Phone 7, Kinect, some of the new features on Xbox, and more of the best stuff announced at CES 2011.

Some interesting facts mentioned at CES 2011

10 January 2011

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Tim Acheson (10 Jan 11, 14:18)

Reflecting on other coverage of CES 2011

CES 2011 was a resounding success for Microsoft. That was the reality on the ground, despite widespread unfavourable coverage, on the whole just regurgitation of disingenuous and inaccurate catchphrases originating from within influential Apple and Google communities.

For example, Apple Insider reported the keynote under the headline "Microsoft's keynote underwhelms..." and a blog post by the Technology Editor at The Guardian used almost exactly the same headline. The first paragraph of same blog post on The Guardian's website also criticised the "lack of tablets" shown during the keynote, echoing spurious sources which clearly had not watched the keynote. Of course, in reality a variety of tablets were shown in the keynote, and Apple only has 1 tablet, but as normal the truth didn't stop the people inventing reasons to criticise MS. I know of some tech journalists/bloggers who didn't even arrive at CES until after the opening keynote. Other commentators, who sound more like they were actually there, offer a different impression, e.g. "Windows 7 tablets impress during CES 2011 keynote".

Fortunately, there are plenty of honest reports from CES, and appraisals of the opening keynote written by people who did actually attend it! TheNextWeb's headline noted "The massive social reaction to Ballmer’s keynote". There was a huge social media buss surrounding the opening keynote. At times during the keynote the tweet rate chart passed 100 tweets per minute for key hashtags, and presumably many of these tweets were posted by people in the live audience as well as those watching the live video stream on Facebook and elsewhere. The reader will notice that, again, the impression given by this authentic eye-witness account of the opening keynote is the diametric opposite of that emenating from headlines spewed-out by the Apple fanboy network; spurious soundbites which were sadly picked-up in a few cases by supposedly reputable bloggers who evidently weren't even in the audience -- sloppy tech journalism.

Tim Acheson (13 Jan 11, 09:46)

Video: a nice useful demo of the Asus Eee Slate posted on Microsoft's Facebook page.

Video: demo of the Samsung Sliding PC tablet. (Samsung had noticably the biggest booth on the floor at CES 2011.)

Tim Acheson (17 Jan 11, 12:37)

The HP Slate 500 Tablet PC looks nice. I didn't see it at CES2011, but it's just been unveiled. It runs on an Intel Atom CPU, so it's not quite a full-power PC like the Asus Eee Slate. There's a useful video.

Jamie Thomson (06 Mar 11, 16:29)

Hi Tim,
Do you have any clue when the Asus slate is coming out in the UK? really want to get my hands on one but can't find it for sale online anywhere.


Hi Jamie, it sounds like you were impressed with the Eee Slate! (To quote part of your direct message on Twitter: "I handled one in MSFT store in Bellevue 2 days ago - awesome.") Thanks for investigating and confirming the ETA in the UK: Q2 2011! Definitely something for Brits to look forward to.


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