Ballmer's CES Keynote and the incredible disappearing tablet

Yeah, so the big tablet announcement that I said was going to happen during Steve Ballmer's CES Keynote...didn't happen. The New York Times steered me wrong, and I steered you wrong. Mea culpa.

What did happen was Steve Ballmer very briefly picked up an HP Slate computer and showed it running Kindle for PC and then playing a video. It was truly a yawn-worthy moment. Actually, there wasn't much in the way of new announcements (or excitement) during the keynote. Ballmer and Windows Senior Product Manager Ryan Asdourian looked at a bunch of Windows PCs in various form factors (most of which you've seen). There was lots of talk about how successful Windows 7 is and how it'll make your life better, with a pretty strong emphasis on integrating Windows 7 and television.

When Robbie Bach came on stage to talk about the Xbox things got a little more interesting. Project Natal is now confirmed for Holiday 2010 (though they're still re-hashing the same video they showed at last year's E3) and he talked up a lot of great games coming in 2010, from Splinter Cell Conviction to Fable III to Halo Reach. He also announced Game Room, a new product for XBox 360 and PC that'll put a social wrapper around classic arcade games that you probably don't really want to play.

Overall I didn't find the Keynote very exciting. Microsoft is definitely noticing e-books. The Nook showed up in a couple of slides, Ballmer mentioned the Kindle (and as I mentioned, Kindle for PC) and Blio got a brief demo. But it really seemed like Microsoft's next frontier is the living room and your television. I guess they're willing to leave the e-reader business to others for now. As for the Courier... a total no-show at CES 2010 thus far.

HP did announce their Slate (the one that Ballmer briefly used) while the event was happening, and Engadget quickly got a post up.

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