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At CES, Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer Strains for Relevance in Keynote
- Updated: January 10, 2012
LAS VEGAS — Listening to Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer last night hyperventilate about the company’s supposedly stupendous future as purveyor of the planet’s life-altering experiences was not unlike watching a heavyset, middle-aged guy strutting through a pulsating club, telling all the slinky, 20-something women how hot he looks in a Speedo.
Ballmer was giving the keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show, the ultimate showcase for gadgetry. The people crammed inside a giant ballroom at the Venetian Hotel took in the spectacle of Ballmer’s famously cornball cheerleading and Tweeted away and captured video clips — most of them using iPhones and various Android models. You could find plenty of Microsoft products in the crowd, yes, but predominantly on the PCs schlepped around by people whose companies issue them as a matter of policy.
For more than a decade, Microsoft has been vowing to expand from its preserve in the business world — the supplier of products that scream work — into a hipper consumer company that produces things people might actually be inclined to buy with their own money. As HuffPost’s technology editor Bianca Bosker has pointed out on more than one occasion, this transformation has gone approximately as well as British Petroleum’s labors to burnish its image as a lover of handicapped dolphins. The very fact that Ballmer was, for the last time, giving the keynote at a show whose name is about consumer electronics served as reminder of this mostly failed campaign….