A year ago, Steve Ballmer took the stage of the Consumer Electronics Show to tout a technology that he promised would change the world: the Windows operating system. Newcomers to CES might have been baffled by this choice; Windows 7 had been on the market for several months, so why was the Microsoft CEO showing it off now, at a show that is supposed to focus on the tech industry's best new stuff?
CES veterans, though, took the Ballmer keynote in stride. An annual disquisition on the awesomeness of Windows is just one of many annoying CES traditions. This time, Ballmer wanted to show how amazing it was that you can get Windows on lots and lots of different kinds of computers. I thought this was the point of Windows, but never mind. Ballmer pulled out a prototype of the Slate, a small tablet PC made by Hewlett-Packard, and he half-heartedly slid his finger across the screen to show that you could use it as an e-book reader. The demo lasted about 15 seconds. The HP Slate was delayed for much of the rest of the year.
I don't mean to single out Microsoft, because it is merely the worst offender in the overcrowded, overstuffed, chaotic, and profoundly pointless vaporware parade known as CES. That's why I skipped this year's show, which began last week in Las Vegas...
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