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CES: Ballmer On What Microsoft Has Coming Next

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Steve Ballmer started off his Consumer Electronics Show keynote Wednesday by running down Microsoft’s product debuts in 2010, including Windows Phone 7 and Kinect, and promising a preview of what Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) has coming next. Read on for a summary of Microsoft’s announcements regarding Kinect, Windows Phone 7 and Windows.

Kinect: Microsoft’s Ron Forbes said that Xbox owners would now be able to use the controller-free system to select content to stream on their consoles from Hulu Plus and Netflix (NSDQ: NFLX). Microsoft is also launching an update to Kinect this spring so that it can be used to read a user’s facial expressions — like a smile or raise of an eyebrow — in addition to tracking his or her body movements.

Xbox Live: The Xbox 360’s online Xbox Live service now has 30 million users worldwide, Ballmer said. That’s up from 20 million users a year ago, a metric that Microsoft released at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show.

Windows Phone 7: Ballmer hyped the company’s new mobile operating system as a destination for game playing, announcing a slate of new mobile games that will be available. He also said that there were more than 5,500 applications — game and non-game — available via the Windows Phone 7 app store, a figure that is up from the 4,000 Microsoft said there were in late December. Ballmer said updates were coming to Windows Phone 7 early this year that will add a copy and paste function and “significant performance improvements.”

Windows: Microsoft showed off various forthcoming Windows PCs, including a tablet from Asus, which goes on sale today. CVP Michael Angiulo also demonstrated a new version of the company’s Surface table computer. It’s much thinner and is made in partnership with Samsung. Thanks to support for a new type of chip architecture, the next version of Windows will support a “broader set of form factors,” Ballmer said.