Microsoft Bows out of Consumer Electronics Show

Dennis Faas's picture

Microsoft has announced that 2012 will be its last appearance at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. But the reason remains hotly disputed.

The Consumer Electronic Show is one of the biggest events in the global tech calendar, often used to unveil new technologies, such as the video cassette recorder, the Nintendo Entertainment System, HDTV, and Blu-ray players.

Microsoft first showed the Xbox console at CES in 2001, and in 2008 Bill Gates announced his retirement. For the past 14 years, Microsoft has delivered a keynote address on the first night of the multi-day show, effectively participating in the opening ceremony.

Now, Microsoft says it will continue to send staff to the event, but 2012 will be the last time it exhibits or makes a keynote address.

Microsoft: CES No Longer Necessary

According to Microsoft communications rep Frank Shaw, the decision comes because there are now so many ways for the company to publicize its products, from social media to live events to its range of retail stores.

Shaw says it is no longer necessary to bother with CES as a launchpad. Thus, Microsoft also won't be scheduling its major product announcements for January in order to coincide with the big conference and exhibit. (Source:

Intriguingly, the Consumer Electronics Association, which runs CES, appears to offer a contradictory explanation, pointing out that it decides internally who it invites to deliver keynote addresses and in what slot. An association spokesperson added that the group had decided it was time for a different company to receive the opening slot.

Microsoft CES Departure Seen as 'Tit-For-Tat'

Rumors suggest that since the CES leadership dropped Microsoft from the show's opening slot, Microsoft saw this as a snub, and thus the company decided to retaliate by withdrawing it's prestige and vast financial resources from the show altogether. (Source:

There's now some debate about how the move will play out for Microsoft.

Certainly, it will derive some benefit from no longer following an externally imposed timetable for its new product announcements, and can instead launch products when it best suits the company. However, other observers suggest not having to meet the annual CES deadline may allow Microsoft engineers to drag their feet on new products.

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