Microsoft Throws in the Towel on CES

Next month's keynote appearance and booth will be the last time Microsoft journeys to Las Vegas for CES.

Microsoft has announced that this coming January's appearance will be the last time it appears at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) as both a keynoter and having a booth presence.However, it's not because the world will end in 365 days.announced that the company would stop going to the annual gadget-fest because the show doesn't "align" with the company's new product milestones."Our industry moves fast and changes faster. And so the way we communicate with our customers must change in equally speedy ways. To ensure it does, we constantly challenge our assumptions. For example:"• What’s the right time and place to make announcements?"• Are we adjusting to the changing dynamics of our customers?"• Are we doing something because it’s the right thing to do, or because 'it's the way we’ve always done it?'"After thinking about questions like these, we have decided that this coming January will be our last keynote presentation and booth at CES. We’ll 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."It makes sense. I realize that CES is for buyers and they need a long lead time for the following Christmas, but to hold the show one week after New Years and two weeks after Christmas is nuts. I used to hate going to the show because it would be painful to see what was coming after I'd made my Christmas indulgence.But let's not forget something: this is the CONSUMER ELECTRONICS show. The computer industry has more or less taken it over in the past decade with the death of Comdex (and good riddance) without thinking about the timing or how big the show already was. The end result was CES, a fun little show that usually drew under 100,000 people and fit neatly into the north and south halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center, suddenly started morphing into the monstrosity that Comdex had been. Suddenly Intel was parked next to Toshiba and wireless routers were seen next to DVD players. For us journalists, it meant up to three weeks of headaches as you had to deal with Christmas, New Year's and CES absences from the office.Bill Gates became a keynote speaker at CES because of Microsoft's connected living room/wired home/whatever vision, which still hasn't caught fire. I'm sure we'll continue to see blurring of the lines between tech and CE, but not to the degree either side wants.So I'm kind of glad Microsoft is pulling out and sticking to its own shows. Now I hope the rest of the industry follows and lets CES once again be a modest show for the CE market, where you can get a hotel room at a semi-reasonable rate and the taxi line isn't a mile long.

Frank X. Shaw, corporate vice president for corporate communications at Microsoft,

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