The Truth That Dare Not Speak: The CES Keynote Sucked

ces1.jpgAnother year and another keynote speech at CES tops the headlines on Techmeme. The team over a CrunchGear did a good job under the circumstances live blogging Bill Gates and others from Microsoft as they spoke on stage, but it’s a speech no one is yet seriously telling the truth about.

The Microsoft keynote at CES sucked.

Sucked is not a word I usually throw around with glee abandon, but after sitting through the live stream on the Microsoft site that insisted that I had to install Silverlight to watch it, my only reaction at the end was to yawn. And from what I can gather from the crowd, the CrunchGear chat room and Twitter, I wasn’t alone.

Was Bill Gates to blame? It’s always awe inspiring to see the second richest man alive on stage, a man that has created so much and who has literally shaped the digital history of the world, and yet the best presenter with an empty hat cant make rabbits magically appear.

There were some interesting announcements. Silverlight will get a big boost from the tie-in with NBC’s Olympics coverage, and the image recognition demonstration towards the end was cool tech wise, particularly with the tie-in to Windows Live 3D Maps (still the best product on the market), even if the demo unit looked like a radar gun, or a copy of War and Peace. The digital roast of Bill Gates with video of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama was probably the highlight in terms of fun, but that’s about it.

ces2.jpgWe saw a demonstration of Windows Live Events, a service that was launched last year; amazing, they all sync in together, just like most of Microsoft’s other competitors. Bill Gates demoed Surface, one very cool Microsoft product, but he showed how you can design a snow board with your hands….let me say that there were no shortages of WTF’s on Twitter and the CrunchGear Live chat room at that stage.

There was a demonstration of Microsoft’s Sink…sorry Sync product in Fords. Wow, an MP3 player that hardly anyone owns works in a car that most people wish they didn’t own once they buy one (and I’d note, the last comment is from experience.)

Apparently the XBox 360 made more in sales money wise than the Wii, but what they didn’t add is because the Wii is a whole lot cheaper.

It’s hard to cover the rest, it was as passionate as a dead wet fish, and about as interesting visually as a Podtech video.

The big question is how, in 2008, have we come to a point that Microsoft is so bereft of new ideas and innovation that what was once the most important keynote speech of the year turned out to be a complete dog? It’s not for a lack of good people, there are many in Microsoft doing a great job, and there’s even some good technology and products being created (Silverlight and Windows Live Maps being two examples) and to those people I say don’t take this personally, it’s not personal, it’s just that if people don’t have anything interesting to say, they’re better off not getting on stage and making us yawn. I’ll be in San Francisco for the Steve Jobs keynote at Macworld next week and I doubt that I’ll be writing a similar post.

For those who watched or listened to the keynote, what did you think?