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Summary:

Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) used its hallmark spot on the CES 2012 schedule to prove just how pointless it is to put on a million-dollar keynote…

Ryan Seacrest Steve Ballmer CES 2012
photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) used its hallmark spot on the CES 2012 schedule to prove just how pointless it is to put on a million-dollar keynote address in the modern media era when you have nothing to say, reiterating its performance over 2011, talking up Windows 8, and hiring Ryan Seacrest and a tweet-singing choir for no apparent reason.

The 2012 edition of CES will be Microsoft’s last in the kick-off keynote slot, and the company did nothing memorable to mark the occasion. There were a few nuggets, such as an app for Xbox that will display content from Fox (NSDQ: NWS) and the forthcoming availability of Microsoft’s Kinect gaming experience for Windows, but the keynote was an otherwise forgettable trip down 2011′s memory lane in which Seacrest probably uttered more words than Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

At some point, more people will realize how unnecessary an exercise official CES keynotes are as more and more big companies realize they can get more mileage by announcing news on their own terms. Microsoft’s performance Monday night was almost as boring as the NCAA national championship game, but at least the athletes in New Orleans were trying.

Microsoft was not. And to be fair to them, they made it pretty clear when they announced last month that CES 2012 would be their last appearance that they no longer see much value in events such as CES, which don’t necessarily line up with the company’s product development schedule and demand that is put on something of a show.

For millions of reasons, the show that is CES must go on, and so people lined up for hours inside The Venetian for practically nothing. Sure, there’s probably some value in the infomercials for Windows 8, Windows Phone, and Xbox that Microsoft aired to tens of thousands of tech industry professionals.

But show me a person who learned anything substantial from Microsoft’s last CES keynote address, and I’ll show you a person who wasn’t paying attention in 2011.

  1. You might cut Mr. Ballmer and Microsoft some slack. At least they showed up, which took fortitude. Imagine how embarrassing it was for him and the company’s attendees to have the “hallmark spot” when they know that everyone knows that MSFT hasn’t mattered for years. And yet the Redmonders, knowing their ‘dinosaurness’ better than anyone, have to get up and pretend they’re still players. If CES were a hall-of-fame kind of show, where all those whose primes were long ago were being honored in their aged hoariness, then I’m sure Ballmer & Co. would have felt more comfortable. And hats off to MSFT for their no-more-CES cover story about the modern era and the development cycle; it shows these guys, who know that the truth is they’re just inconsequential, still know how to run a con.

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