LAS VEGAS -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer used his Jan. 5 keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show to highlight the company's forays into the consumer realm, including the Kinect hands-free controller for Xbox 360 and Windows Phone 7.
Microsoft's product line is the result of "big technology bets that we've made," Ballmer said, including "bets on the cloud" and "natural user interface." Thanks to those innovations, he added, Kinect and the Xbox 360 are expanding from pure gaming platform to household entertainment hub, integrating offerings such as Netflix and Hulu.
"As we speak today, millions of people are enjoying their TV, their music and their movies on demand through Xbox Live," he said. In coming months, Microsoft will roll out Avatar Kinect, which will allow users to interact with others in virtual environments via gesture.
Although Ballmer's presentation focused primarily on consumer innovations along the lines of smartphones and gaming, Microsoft has already made some significant announcements in the opening hours of CES. Hours before Ballmer's keynote, the company used a Jan. 5 press conference at the Consumer Electronics Show to announce that the next version of Windows will support System on a Chip (SoC) architecture, in particular ARM-based systems from partners such as Qualcomm, Nvidia and Texas Instruments. ARM chip designs dominate much of the burgeoning mobile market, which Microsoft is anxious to penetrate.
Windows currently dominates the x86 platform used by traditional PCs, but the rise of powerful mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets -- powered largely by ARM chip designs -- has effectively created a whole new market for the operating system, provided it can work out the engineering details.
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