Engadget reached out to Microsoft for reaction to the news this morning that this year’s CES would be its last, and received some interesting feedback from the company.  Although there has been speculation that Microsoft would deliver a Windows 8 beta (they’ve now said late February),  and show off Office 15 (we find this to be questionable, but we’ll see), and Windows Phone updates (Nokia will make big announcements, to be sure), Engadget was told not to expect too much from what has turned out to be Microsoft’s last CES keynote:

We’ve confirmed with the company that Steve Ballmer will be “focusing quite a bit on Windows Phone and the its Xbox / entertainment story,” while also sharing “momentum from across the company for Windows, Office, Bing, etc.” Ultimately, we’re told that there “won’t be significant news, but more of a wrap up of the strong year the company has had in consumer.”

Engadget also got confirmation that Microsoft would continue to have a presence at CES through partner announcements, and that it hasn’t given up on big conferences entirely:

(W)hile it wouldn’t comment specifically on the future of MIX or BUILD, we’re told that “it will continue to invest in those kinds of owned venues going forward.”

2012 is shaping up to be one of the biggest years ever for Microsoft in terms of product announcements, all driven by the launch of Windows 8 “this fall”.   But the timing of CES is just a bit too early, as noted by Frank Shaw this morning when he said “our product news milestones generally don’t align with the show’s January timing”.

To be honest, we’re not sure where and when we’ll begin hearing about next generation versions of Windows, Office, Xbox, and Windows Phone, the fate of Windows Live Essentials, Live Mesh, and Messenger, the plans for Skype, and the continued evolution of Hotmail and SkyDrive.  You can be sure you’ll be reading all about them here on LiveSide, though, wherever or whenever they’re announced (if not before)!