Woo, boy. The CEA's none too happy about this, we're sure. Microsoft has just announced that its final CES keynote will happen in 2012. After that?

"We'll continue to participate in CES as a great place to connect with partners and customers across the PC, phone and entertainment industries, but we won't have a keynote or booth after this year because our product news milestones generally don't align with the show's January timing."

That's according to Frank X. Shaw, VP of Corporate Communications at Microsoft, who goes on to say that this industry is moving fast and changing even faster, and in an effort to attack the needs and demands of consumers in a hastier fashion, it simply cannot be held to a yearly schedule where one major show dictates the timing of a given release. It's important to note that Microsoft isn't pulling out of CES entirely -- you'll still find plenty of staffers roaming the show floor and cutting deals in the backrooms of Vegas-area hotels, but it won't be investing in a huge booth presence after January. It doesn't take a historian to see the trend here. If you'll recall, Apple decided to pretty much do the exact same thing when it pulled out of its yearly MacWorld keynote schedule back in 2008. The company simply felt that it would have more control over its own releases if a certain day on a certain entity's calendar wasn't pulling the strings, and we honestly believe that Microsoft is just the next of many to feel similarly.

While CES is a fantastic event for launching products and drawing eyes, the timing has always struck us as horrific. We were pleased as punch when the CEA pushed the entire thing up a week starting in 2012, but it's still a bizarre window. For one, it immediately follows two major holidays, and furthermore, it's just two weeks after the year's busiest shopping season -- you know, a season where launching new products a few months before would make a lot more sense. We've definitely noticed some level of splintering over the years when it comes to trade shows, and as consumer demands become more and more unshakable, we get the feeling that being nailed to a January launch schedule will grow ever more uncomfortable. Time will tell, eh?

Update: We've just learned of Microsoft's plans for its 2012 keynote; seemingly, it'll be going out sans bang. Ballmer will be focusing on Windows Phone and the Xbox / entertainment story, while also sharing "momentum" for the company as a whole. Nothing major, though. Drat!