The wait is nearly over: conference season to begin with CES

Microsoft has traditionally made big announcements about upcoming products and services at tech conferences, and while the breathless anticipation for CES isn’t quite what it used to be, Microsoft will have some significant announcements to make this spring.  Speculation is heating up about not only what will be announced, but where and when.  We thought we’d take a look at the spring schedule, with some comments on what we might expect.

We added these conferences to our Windows Live Calendar, created a Twitter list, and gathered them up here.

8738.ceslogo_661a0ce1 News CES  Jan 7-10 Las Vegas

The mother of all conferences, but no longer the Microsoft showcase it once was.  Will we hear anything about Windows Phone? WMExperts thinks Steve Ballmer might talk some WinMo7 in his keynote, but we’re not so sure, other than maybe a vague reference or two. Some speculation that we might hear some Windows Live news, but it doesn’t seem to be shaping up that way, either.  Keeping our fingers crossed, anyway, and we’ll be closely watching the news coming from CES, now only a week away!

5164.mwc_4cb209a7 News Mobile World Congress  Feb 15-18 Barcelona

Certainly by MWC somebody has to be saying something about Windows Phone!  This conference actually makes a lot more sense for a Windows Phone (Windows Mobile 7) announcement, and hopefully a first peek.  This is the crowd that Microsoft needs to win over, and the timing is right, if we’re to expect mobile app development bits at Mix, one month later in March.

7271.smxwest_thumb_6f099f20 News Search Marketing Expo West March 2-4 Santa Clara

Steve Ballmer keynotes this one, a coup for Danny Sullivan (and a good place to roll out Bing improvements?)  Bing needs to keep up the pressure, and search marketers are key influencers.  Bing announcements here would be in keeping with the Spring/Fall major update schedule, too.

1057.sxswi_thumb_714627dc News SxSWi March 12-16 Austin

SxSW is a big party, and perhaps a good place to show that MSFT can be a hip Web 2.0 player, too.  Softies love going, but will they announce anything big?  Probably doubtful, but SxSW is just before and overlapping Mix, and the timing might be right to make some Wave 4 announcements.  Keynotes haven’t been announced yet, we’ll keep you posted.

4048.mix10logo_thumb_45955de0 News Mix10 March 15-17 Las Vegas

We should start to hear about a Windows Live developer story – Will we have to wait all the way until Mix to hear about Wave 4? (we hope not!)  Will Wave 4 even be announced at one of these conferences, or will it forgo them altogether?  Our Magic 8 Ball is still hazy on a Wave 4 set of announcements.  We certainly expect at least some developer bits for Windows Live at Mix, and you can’t talk about dev bits unless Wave 4 is out, can you?

What’s more clear is that there will be significant Windows Phone announcements coming at Mix.  While news of upcoming Windows Live announcements have been murky at best, Microsoft was clear in promising Windows Phone info at Mix, and we’re expecting that the mobile bits for Visual Studio 2010, held out of the early releases (and with VS2010 now conveniently delayed due to “performance problems”) to surface, hopefully with a bang, at Mix.

8156.web20expo_thumb_6bf7412b News Web 2.0 Expo May 3-6 San Francisco

Live Mesh was introduced at Web 2.0 Expo 2 yrs ago, and San Francisco is so much better than Vegas it hurts – please let there be Windows Live news from here!  No way that Wave 4 won’t be out by May, but this may be a good showcase for making additional announcements regarding Windows Live to keep up the pressure.

We’re obviously speculating on what might be coming, but at least the season is upon us and we should know a lot more about Microsoft’s plans soon.  We’ll be at Mix, for sure, but we’re ready to bring you the latest news from just about anywhere, as soon as it breaks (or even before that!).  Happy New Year everyone, this should be fun!