Microsofts keynote slot at this year’s Consumer Electronic Show is set to be taken over by Steve Ballmer who unlike Bill Gates is set to be the bearer of bad news with the Company set to announce that in certain markets the Company is struggling and that they will later this month lay off thousands worldwide including Australia.
In the consumer and mobile market space Microsoft is being hammered with their Xbox 360 still losing money and sales of their Windows Mobile operating system sliding the Company is desperate for a hero product to take on the likes of Apple and Google.
In the Windows Media Centre market Microsoft has failed to deliver in several key markets. In Australia there is no EPG, music or movie download service linked to the software other than what Telstra is delivering and in the mobile market sales of Windows Mobile OS devices are starting to slide as long time partners like HTC invest more in the new Google Android OS.
Their Zune mobile music device is only offered for sale in selected markets and a planned music site promised early in 2007 has still not been delivered for the Australian market.
Now the Company is banking on a new Windows 7 operating system to replace the problematic Vista offering which has been rejected by millions of consumers and small medium businesses. The company is expected to distribute copies of Windows 7 beta 1 to attendees, giving users a chance to get their hands on the new user interface.
In recent reports, Fudzilla a US-based technology blog claims staff at Microsoft has been told that 15,000 of the Companies 90,000 global workforce will be given their marching orders on January 15. This would be the first major job losses the company has made in its 34 year history.
Another key part of Ballmer’s presentation is set to be focused on the struggling Windows Mobile operating system which is now under pressure from both Apple and the popular Research in Motion’s BlackBerry.
Two recent reports show that both Research in Motion and Apple have surpassed Microsoft in the smart phone market.
One reason according to Microsoft local newspaper the Seattle Intelligencer is that Smart phones have moved from the office to the home, where Windows Mobile is perceived to be weakest.
“What has taken them by surprise is they thought smart phones were still for the corporate world,” said Matt Rosoff, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft.
Recently Ballmer has said that the phone is crucial to Microsoft’s consumer strategy.
“These days, the mobile phone is the PC that goes in your pocket,” said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst at Jupitermedia. “Given that, as well as phones increasingly taking on entertainment capabilities, (Microsoft) is going to want to make sure that Windows Mobile is perceived as viable, as relevant in an age when there is so much attention given to other platforms.”
The Seattle Intelligencer also said that Its unclear if Ballmer, who will be joined on stage by Entertainment and Devices Division President Robbie Bach, will announce new consumer-centric phone services for Windows Mobile or simply talk up Windows Mobile’s prospects.
Intel is tipped to announce its next-generation Classmate, a netbook for developing nations that features a touchscreen capable of swivelling into a tablet.
Intel are also expected to roll out an internet-television platform, the fruit of which involves a series of widgets allowing TV watchers to talk to friends or buy advertised products from online stores while watching their favourite programs.
In recent months the Company has shown consumer technology vendors such as Sony, Panasonic and Samsung the new technology with several vendors set to reveal a new generation of TV’s which include the new processor along with a new generation of HD wireless.
Sony and Samsung are also set to go head to head with new organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays in sizes over 20″. Samsung has been touting a massive 40in prototype, while Sony CEO Howard Stringer has hinted a 27in panel could be demonstrated at the show.
Sony will also reveal a new touchscreen Walkman, which is set to go head-to-head with the iPod touch.
Google is also set to have a major presence at this year’ CES where they will show off new features in their new Android mobile operating system and their new Chrome Browser.
Also using the CES show as a platform to launch a new product is Palm. The once-mighty mobile phone company hasn’t had the best time recently, but it’s looking to strike back with Nova, a new Smartphone operating system which the company is hoping will take 2% of the market.