Although CES announcements are already well under way, the event itself will formally kick off Wednesday night, when Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer takes to the stage, occupying a spot long held by company chairman Bill Gates.
In his keynote, Ballmer is expected to tout Windows 7--how well its sales are doing and show off the latest PCs running the new operating system. (Update: As noted by The New York Times late Tuesday, among the devices Ballmer is expected to tout is a slate-form, touch-screen tablet computer. However, industry sources tell CNET that the device is an evolution of the kinds of tablet PCs long offered in the Windows world, as opposed to an earth-shattering device designed to rival .)
The company is also expected to tout its gaming presence and how it expects to carry things forward from its Xbox 360, which executives said is only half way through its life even at 5 years old. Last year, the company showed off, which is expected this year. Those interested in Natal should learn at least a little more at CES, I'm hearing.
Microsoft is also likely to talk more broadly about the role it sees for new user interfaces, especially touch.
As for, folks will have to wait just a bit longer to hear how Microsoft plans to try to keep pace with Google and Apple. Microsoft is expected to talk about the oft-delayed operating system at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February and again at its Mix show in Vegas in March.
The software maker also appears unlikely to roll out its rumored Courier tablet, although Microsoft is also likely to talk about, including the latest in .
Ahead of the keynote, Microsoft also announced its, which is in beta testing and due out in final form later this year.