As you can probably tell from our coverage of Microsoft’s 2011 CES keynote presentation, we were frankly a bit underwhelmed by the (lack of) announcements that dropped to the floor like so many unheard pins in a very quiet room. While Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has always been a captivating speaker, the entire affair seemed more like a commercial for the products and successes of 2010, not the kind of forward-looking future-tech we hope for each year at CES.
Aside from a few minor reveals that Kinect functionality would be heading to Hulu and Netflix this spring – as well as the unveiling of Avatar Kinect’s facial expression technology – the remainder of the keynote focused on the features (or rather, the selling points) behind the already-released Windows Phone 7. And when the evening finally turned to the prospect of PC technology, eager attendees received only a scant mention of the “next version of Windows” and a quick demo of the next iteration of Surface.
Regardless, we had bigger and better hopes for the presentation. Read on to find out what they were…
“Xbox, More Games!”
Granted, the end of 2010 saw a bevy of newly announced titles for 2011 and beyond, but when touting the virtues of a console that’s now well beyond 50 million units sold – in a venue that is 100% about innovation – one would expect at least an appreciable focus on gaming. Sadly, not a single hardcore game was demoed or revealed this evening; not a piece of DLC; not an expansion; not a screenshot; not a single piece of video. In fact, the same holds true for casual games, unless the ability to wave at your Netflix queue qualifies as casual gaming. C’mon, Microsoft. Give some love to the gamers in the audience wondering just how “next gen” this next-generation can get.
Kinect and the Hardcore
Speaking of which, when is it finally going to be time to demonstrate to the FPS lovers, the survival horror fans, the action elite, etc. just how the Kinect is going to serve them? Sure, I can now show my smiling face to my faraway friends via Avatar Kinect, but when do I get to find out how I’m going to control Marcus Fenix as he battles the Locust Horde? When will somebody explain to me if an FPS on the Kinect is even physically possible? When does Microsoft’s biggest innovation start applying to me?
Since Microsoft is clearly preaching how the Windows Phone 7 allows for the integration of content between your Xbox and your phone, how about allowing us to synch our cells with our consoles and store our physical profiles for our own on-the-go purposes? What if I could beam all my stats, scores, etc. onto my phone and toss them onto another console, making my profile truly 100% portable?
Windows 8 Utilities
They won’t even call it “Windows 8,” so it’s hardly a surprise that Microsoft didn’t actually show their next operating system at the evening’s keynote. That said, a sneak peek at the upcoming OS would have been nice, or simply some sense – via early mock-ups or carefully crafted demos – of what features and programs PC users might expect to see whenever the “the next version of Windows” finally releases.
Next-Gen PC Gaming
With the quiet heralding of Windows 8 and the emphasis placed on smaller, more powerful and equally more efficient processors, one would have expected some form of eye-popping demo for how the latest-and-greatest technology might apply to gaming. Remember when Crysis was the tip-top of the iceburg? What’s next in the world of PC games? And since I still can play most of ‘em on my damn Macbook, at least show me what I’m missing, right?
If you want to know what I wish Microsoft had shown at its CES press event, click here!