5:57PM We're inside and front and center. In just a few sweet moments Steve Ballmer will take the stage and launch us into a phantasmagoric world of keynote goodness. Keep your internet terminals tuned to this channel!
7:50PM Okay, that's a wrap! We're out of here!
7:50PM Gary Shapiro: "Welcome to CES..." And Tripod is back.
7:49PM Ballmer: "We have an incredible opportunity ahead of us. I'm excited to be a part of this industry. Thank you so much!"
7:48PM She's showing a super, super thin color display. An active, foldable display. It doesn't seem to be an actual, active screen. Still, we'd like one please.
7:47PM She's placed the tablet on a Surface with a phone, and date is swishing out of the devices and across the table at each other. Now she's putting down a model of the brain -- data displays in relation to the object.
7:46PM "Let's take a look at how these technologies can help us collaborate." Man, this keynote is awful long.
7:46PM Now she's jumping around to transparent machine translation. This looks good, but will it be able to place the perfect pizza order?
7:44PM As professional doctors, we can absolutely say that this application would be a terrific tool for med students. And serial killers.
7:43PM She's zoomed into the synapses. Steve: "I hope my synapses look that clean!"
7:43PM "Suppose I'm a college student, but I'm looking for information for a class..." She's showing off a really advanced tablet. Using an interactive tool that teaches about the human body for medical students.
7:42PM "Communication will be transformed -- we'll move seamlessly between voice and video. There are really a lot of exciting things ahead. I'd like to invite Janet Galore on stage to show some concepts we're working on."
7:41PM "Moore's law says we get more speed and power, and we have to create apps to take advantage of that power. A second trend is that screens will be everywhere. And the third is that applications will work across all types of devices, and adapt to the device and your habits."
7:39PM Ballmer is back. "If anyone thinks he threw that game on purpose, they would be wrong." Laughs! "When I look at the new products we're bringing to market, I know we're on the verge of a technology transformation that happens only every 10 or 20 years."
7:39PM "We're going to connect families with cloud-based content. Microsoft will connect your entertainment experience. Thank you!"
7:38PM The game is like Katamari meets lightcycles from Tron. It's totally bizarre -- now her and Robbie are using cycles to steal rocks from each other.
7:37PM She's showing off music options. This child is going to someday cure cancer, learn to fly by herself, and bring about world peace.
7:35PM Wow -- this is wild. She's creating elaborate workflows in Kodu.
7:34PM It's an "actual 12-year-old girl" who created a game with Kodu. It's pretty impressive!
7:34PM "Welcome Sparrow to the stage..." It's a kid!
7:34PM "The final thing I want to talk about is community games. We're trying to empower everyone to create their own games. We're shipping a new product called Kodu -- a way to help tech kids how to program, and they can create games and share them with other people."
7:33PM "So that's what we're doing in movies. Let's transition to music. Xbox is a showcase for social music gaming. Fans want an interactive experience with their music. Lips, Rock Band, Guitar Hero. 60 million music downloads on these games. Now artists like Metallica, Springsteen, they're using the platform to meet fans."
7:31PM "Even more interesting... I have a new mobile app here. You can control your queue via your Windows Mobile device."
7:29PM "Now we're not stopping there. We're expanding our video efforts. We have 45 providers. We added Netflix to that list." He's showing off the NXE Netflix app. Minor controller issues.
7:29PM There's a "Big Bill" avatar... Gates, dancing. Bizarre.
7:28PM Apparently all the questions in this game will be about really, really recent pop-culture.
7:27PM Demo time! An Xbox Live gameshow '1 vs. 100'. This is kind of cool -- 100 people can play together... apparently someone plays the host too!
7:25PM "This Spring we'll launch the Primetime channel on Xbox. Scheduled social events on Xbox Live."
7:25PM "In November we launched the NXE. Since we've done that, there's been a dramatic focus on movies and TV. In particular, we see it taking place in what is a social network. Xbox live has had 10 billion hours of interactive gameplay on the service. We've included avatars, and since that's happened, the social activity has expanded. Users have added 33% more friends prior to this launch."
7:23PM Really nothing new here -- something for the Joystiq crew perhaps. Two new games coming in 2009.
7:23PM Hoo boy. Halo!
7:23PM "So that's 2008 -- let's talk about 2009. Let's talk about what's coming on the TV. I'm going to start with Halo, we've sold 25 million units. An average Halo player plays 150 hours of Halo on Xbox Live... it's the defining social game."
7:22PM "Of course, it's also about Xbox Live -- 17 million users worldwide. In the last 3 moths of 2008, we added 3 million members."
7:21PM "Now on the Xbox -- this was our best holiday season, and our best year ever. We have the industry leading attach rate, and we're now sub-$200 -- this is where the majority of consoles get sold."
7:20PM "They merge the web and broadcast experiences. You'll see a lot of progress on that."
7:20PM "Let's talk about Media Center -- we now have over 10 million users. We also now have 2.5 million users in Media Room -- that's a 250% growth. That platform is accelerating. AT&T's Uverse service was voted as the best across the US. We're creating Media Room Anytime -- you can go backwards and watch what you want. And we're expanding the platform so partners can create applications."
7:18PM "Zune has had a great year, as a product and a service. We've doubled the people on the Social to two million. There's been lots of innovation in cars and Zune."
7:17PM "Last year we talked about Sync -- and we're continuing that relationship."
7:17PM "Connected entertainment isn't just about connecting devices. It's about creating social experiences that bring people together. So we're going to talk about that in the context of our businesses."
7:16PM And... Robbie Bach is out.
7:14PM Cute though -- about lovemaking after they finish a level in their video game.
7:14PM They're like Flight of the Conchords. But not.
7:13PM We hope Ballmer will join in with a little baritone.
7:13PM Ah -- a live music performance... from... Tripod?
7:12PM "Have a great time in Las Vegas!"
7:11PM "Because Windows Live is about sharing, I have to show you my favorite thing. It's my favorite new feature. I'm going to chat with my husband -- I've got a video panel here. You can change the panel to be a little more personal. It calls up video based on the kind of emoticon you use." It's actually extremely annoying looking.
7:10PM Quick Add pane -- it gives you map and other assorted options for embedding content into your mail. Kind of like Ubiquity for Firefox, but a little more user-friendly.
7:09PM "I want to talk about Hotmail -- we're making email just a little more social." More? Social? More social? No. No! No?
7:08PM Photos -- now with slideshows via Silverlight. "So the 'what's new feed' has tipped me off about what my friends are doing online... Twitter, Yelp... and you can get it all in one feed. When you share photos on Facebook, they show up here."
7:07PM She's showing off a status update from a friend in Russian -- highlight brings up a context "accelerator" menu that offers some translation options, etc.
7:06PM Windows Live demo now. Even better with IE 8 we're told. "We heard a lot users talk about being overloaded. With out newest release, we've made Live a place that brings social updates to you..." Hmm, that sounds... PR-speakish...
7:05PM Now she's showing off Windows Mobile with the new IE... on a Treo Pro! Still, the scrolling looks mighty choppy. "Let's switch to this Samsung Omnia -- this phone has a great camera that takes panoramic shots..." She's panning across a scene and the phone is automatically creating a panoramic image.
7:03PM Now a touch demo. A multitouch screen running a globe app. Just like some of those multitouch screens we saw last year at CES. Almost the exact navigation around a globe, down to maps. We need a new demo for multitouch besides globe spinning.
7:02PM "I can access the things I need when I need them." The networking works very similarly to native OS X networking.
7:01PM "Let's see where W7 takes a complex task, and makes it easier. We know you have home networks, but it's hard. We've made it easier -- Homegroups." This kind of networking looks familiar... we can't say where we've seen it.
7:00PM "Here's a little thing called Jumplists -- in just one click I get recent songs, recent documents, or common things I do in messenger. Two clicks and I'm out again." "That's just 5 features."
6:59PM "We know users like to have two windows open -- they like to compare side by side. It's really easy -- snap one to the right and one to the left." That's kind of handy.
6:58PM "Look at the lower right corner -- I can move down there to look through my documents."
6:58PM "Get ready to see the new Windows 7 beta." Showing off a scattered desktop, "Look familiar to anyone?" She's showing off the preview taskbar feature to see what's going on while you're working.
6:57PM Demo time! Charlotte Jones demo'ing some of the new software. Party time.
6:56PM "Verizon wireless will integrate Live search into phones -- it will become a bigger part of the mobile experience." This is a bit of a snoozefest -- seems to be a trend!
6:56PM "Windows Mobile continues to evolve. I'm excited about our momentum. We have 11 different MW phones that have sold over a million units. And in the past year, over 30 new phones have come to market. Last but not least, our partners have sold more than 20 million phones over the last 12 months."
6:54PM "Windows live has become an essential companion to the PC -- it keeps your life in sync. Today we have three big announcements on Live. First, Windows Live Essentials. Messenger, Mail, and Photo gallery." "Second, a partnership with Facebook that will deliver the best social experience for half a billion Live users. You can connect the two together and updates will be published to both. Third, we're announcing a partnership with Dell to bundle Live." Yay! Pre-bundled!
6:53PM "I'm excited to announced we're releasing the beta of Windows 7 -- you can get it right now." "And we'll make it available worldwide."
6:52PM "It will make everyday tasks easier, have longer battery life, and fewer alerts. The ability to immediately access your media. And Win 7 enables cool new UI things, like touch."
6:51PM "We're committed to breaking down barriers between info, apps, and devices. We're transforming what Windows is, from a PC platform to a connected experience. When I think about the future, I think of a life without walls. The OS plays a critical role in this -- I'm proud of the progress we've made with Windows 7. We're putting in all the right ingredients."
6:50PM "The special sauce of Windows..." Ew, really?
6:50PM "I want to talk about the future of Windows and where we're going. PCs enabled the best apps to work together, more choices in hardware, and Windows helps it work all together."
6:49PM "As you can see, there's lots of cool products at a great value. When people are struggling to make every dollar count, the choice that offers the best value is the PC... and that's why we say, I AM A PC."
6:49PM It is an impressive lineup of hardware. Some applause from the crowd.
6:48PM Ah, new IdeaPads, the Bamboo ASUS, Qosmio, Touchsmart... the W700ds! Firebird 803, X1, Touch HD, Omnia...
6:47PM A smattering of logos, HTC, Lenovo, SE, Dell... oooh looks like technical issues? The center screen isn't changing. Just the sides. Perhaps it's on purpose!
6:46PM Video time!
6:46PM "When I say Windows, you think PCs, but we're extending to mobile devices. Our PC power is unmatched -- it's the language people speak around the world. But it's nothing without the innovative hardware it runs on. We've worked with manufacturers to bring the best experience to users... here's a look at some cool phones and PCs."
6:45PM "The lynchpin should be Windows. I believe it will remain at the center of this solar system. It works across all screens seamlessly, it ties it together in the cloud."
6:44PM "Speech, gestures, and handwriting will be ways that we interact. The UIs will evolve to be more natural." "The last area of opportunity is connected experiences. Barriers are going away, and the Cloud is connecting all of your devices together. In the future, you'll connect to info and people instantly across any of those screens. That's the last mile to breakthrough for consumers -- bringing together PCs, phones, and TVs, plus the Cloud."
6:43PM "Over the next several years, they'll become more connected." "The 2nd major area is how you'll be able to interact with the computer in natural ways."
6:42PM "Technology isn't just about PCs -- the phone, TV, and PC are merging. A billion mobile phones are sold each year. They're becoming more capable than ever. Over the next 7 years, smartphones will be 50% of that market. Finally, the TV -- for more than 60 years, the center of family entertainment."
6:41PM "Our original vision was to put a PC in everyone's home. Only a billion have PCs right now. Things like netbooks and OLPC will continue to democratize computing."
6:41PM "Why? The power of ideas and innovation that drives us. The power of technology to change people's lives has not diminished. There's so much more ahead of us. When I think of it, I frame it in 3 ares. 1: convergence of the 3 screens, TV, phone, and PC."
6:40PM "No matter what, though, I believe our digital lives will only continue to get richer. There's no turning back. Tech is bringing people closer together. I believe that companies who continue to advance will achieve an edge over companies that pull back. That's why continue to invest more than others in R&D."
6:38PM "I want to talk about the work we're doing at Microsoft. There have been incredible advancements in technology. These have created a global economy and lifted millions of people into the middle class. Today we face some big challenges. It's impact will be with us for some time. It feels like we've entered a period of reduced expectations."
6:37PM Ha! Messages in WM! Jerry Yang: Why won't you accept my friend request on Facebook?
6:37PM "Since this is my first time, I've gotten a lot of advice. I thought I'd share with you."
6:36PM Whoa, he looks psyched right now. "So this is CES? Thanks! It's a real honor for me to deliver the opening keynote. It's something of a tradition for Microsoft to deliver this opening keynote. Bill started almost 15 years ago. He transitioned from CEO as Microsoft and he's doing great work around the world."
6:35PM "Ladies and gentlemen... Steve Ballmer!"
6:35PM Microsoft video is playing up the "every screen" angle of Windows, and we're seeing a lot of Live imagery. New Xbox Experience (some hoots)! And weirdly, a remix of Republica backing the whole thing. It's old... but new.
6:33PM First? A video. Oh Ballmer... where art thou?
6:33PM A little background on Steve Ballmer -- his Harvard career, SAT scores, really good friendship with Bill Gates. His future? Total focus on Microsoft ruling.
6:32PM "And I thought you all came to hear me." That joke didn't work. Uncomfortable silence.
6:32PM "And now, kicking of CES 2009... Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer!"
6:31PM "Happy new year! Welcome to the 2009 CES. This show marks the real start of the new year. After a tough 2008, I'm ready for some optimism and vision." He's waxing excited about CES -- which makes sense.
6:30PM "Ladies and gentlemen... CEO of the CEA, Gary Shapiro!"
6:29PM And now... Arctic Monkeys. Weird!
6:28PM Big cheers.
6:28PM While the beat boxers are going crazy, "people" are walking across the display behind them with little Microsoft "balloons" over their heads. It's an impressive intro.
6:27PM Okay, this is a lot of beat boxing.
6:26PM This is pretty wild -- it's not just beat boxing, but full on stutter-edit-boxing. With delay!
6:26PM Scratching seems less impressive when you're making the scratching sounds with your mouth. But hey, they're repping Microsoft and we're not -- so who are we to talk?
6:25PM Two beat boxers!
6:25PM And someone is seriously doing sound effects with their mouth... and it's not the guy from Police Academy. Wait, now there's some beat boxing.
6:24PM And we're off... whoa. Avatars running around the screens here. This is freaking us out, in a good way.
6:23PM And the fog machine is on... or something is on fire! Either way, this party is heating up!
6:22PM Oooh, the podium is out. That was weird, suddenly the music cut into super chilled-out trip hop.
6:21PM It looks like the festivities should be getting underway! Totally inspiring Killers-esque rock booming here.
6:14PM Here's a shot of us working... and the nose of Engadget Spanish's Jose Andrade!
6:02PM Musical selections so far: M.I.A., Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Kings of Leon. Hip Microsoft, hip.