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Microsoft’s Ballmer Kicks Off CES with Keynote Address

 Las Vegas, NV — A first time keynote address from Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer and cutting-edge product launches fueled momentum on the eve of the 2009 International CES. Produced by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the 2009 International CES opened today in Las Vegas and runs through Sunday, January 11.

“The pre-CES events created an incredible buzz throughout Las Vegas and around the globe as the world waits in anticipation for the innovative products that will launch this week from the International CES,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO, CEA. “With 2,700 exhibitors, including 300 new technology companies, spanning 1.7 million net square feet of exhibit space, the products introduced at this year’s CES will change the shape of our industry and energize the global economy.”

During a market research presentation on Tuesday afternoon, CEA released the Global CE Sales and Forecast. According to new data from CEA and the Gfk Group, CEA projected worldwide revenue for consumer electronics will grow more than four percent to reach $724 billion in 2009.

On Tuesday evening, the fifth annual CES Unveiled: The Official Press Event of the International CES, launched the pre-CES media events at the Sands Expo and Convention Center/The Venetian. The event hosted a record number of more than 900 media, which was a 10 percent increase over the 2008 event. With 56 exhibitors, including AMD, Boxee, Lenovo and Phoenix Technologies, CES Unveiled showcased the latest products and technologies in home networking, text to sign language technologies, innovative gaming keyboards, embedded technologies, digital imaging and more.

Product debuts continued on Wednesday with CES’ Press Day, which featured 11 exhibitor press conferences. CES exhibitors making product announcements included LG, which announced a wireless wristwatch phone with video chat and text messaging capabilities; NETGEAR, which introduced an Internet TV player and a 3G Mobile Broadband router and Panasonic, which unveiled the world’s thinnest Plasma TV, measuring one third of an inch thick, with NeoPDP technology making the product very energy efficient.

Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft Corporation, delivered his first CES keynote address on Wednesday evening. Ballmer discussed the economy and noted that the challenges we face today should be viewed with optimism. “No matter what happens with the economy, our digital lives will only get richer,” he said.

Ballmer outlined three opportunities that lay ahead for the technology industry — the convergence of the PC, phone and TV; a more natural consumer interaction with devices that will incorporate speech and hand gestures and the connected experience between devices.

Ballmer announced that Windows 7 is on track to deliver the ultimate Windows experience, complete with “simplicity, reliability and speed.” A beta version will be available for worldwide download on Friday. Ballmer also announced exciting partnerships with Facebook, Verizon and Dell, which will pre-install Windows Live and Live Search on its entire consumer line of PCs.

Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft’s Entertainment & Devices Division, returned to the CES keynote stage to discuss the latest in Microsoft gaming. Bach announced the upcoming release of two new Halo titles, Halo Wars in February, and Halo 3ODST in the fall.