In a year full of promise (and risk), Microsoft starts it off with a thud

tweetchoirThis was Microsoft’s last CES keynote, after a 14 year run of opening the consumer electronics event, and the new year, in January in Las Vegas.  In a year that promises Windows 8, renewed hope for Windows Phone with a strong push into the US market by Nokia,and another strong push by Xbox, featuring Bing and Kinect, into the living room, the news coming from the keynote was decidedly underwhelming.  Microsoft found itself oddly without much to say in front of the biggest consumer tech audience of the year.

Instead, Steve Ballmer chose to divert attention to Microsoft’s powerful 2012 lineup with Ryan Seacrest and a (gasp) Tweet Choir, and rolled out a rehash of the developer preview of Windows 8 (still with that gawdawful green background, and ok, another gawdawful tile one on the ARM tablet), barely touching on the promises of the new year.

Microsoft has taken secrecy to whole new levels, but this is ridiculous.  Certainly there could have been *something* new to show with Windows 8?  Microsoft says that the timing of CES doesn’t mesh well with their plans, but at some point you need to change your plans a bit.  Roll out a new feature or two for Windows 8, they certainly exist as the beta is only a few weeks away.  Show off the new features of Xbox, and talk *just a bit* about how Xbox will continue to move strongly into the living room.  Point out the beautiful new Nokia 900, and just *hint* at how much more there is to come with Windows Phone, and soon.

And more than 6 months after the deal was announced to acquire Skype, with the deal finalized last October, Microsoft has *nothing* to say about the plans for integrating Skype into Microsoft products? Surely CES would have been the perfect venue to give us some sort of an early look at what to expect.

Instead, Microsoft went out of CES after 14 years with a decided whimper.  Not the best way to start the riskiest year in the history of Microsoft.  What did you think of the keynote?  Were you expecting more?