Microsoft sets final CES appearance

Tech giant won't host booth, give keynote after 2012

Microsoft’s appearance at next month’s Consumer Electronics Show will be its last.

The tech giant has announced, via its corporate blog, that it will not host a booth or deliver the show’s annual keynote speech after 2012.

“Our industry moves fast and changes faster. And so the way we communicate with our customers must change in equally speedy ways,” said Frank Shaw, Microsoft VP of corporate communications. “We have decided that this coming January will be our last keynote presentation and booth at CES. 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.”

The announcement ends a 20-year relationship between the company and the show and will add another big vacancy to the lineup. Apple has long ignored CES, even as it has become a dominant force in the consumer electronics world.

Microsoft will still have a contingent of staffers at future editions of CES, stationed at partner booths and striking deals with companies.

For Microsoft, it’s not a particularly painful decision. The company’s diversification into different areas gives it several venues to make announcements. E3 is where it tends to reveal big advances in its Xbox 360 line; the Mobile World Congress can handle its Windows Phone announcements; and it can show off advances in PC technology through its partners at CES without having to foot a big bill. (The company also hosts several of its own events throughout the year.)

Move echoes Apple’s 2008 decision to pull out of the Macworld Expo each January. Consumer spending fatigue is high immediately after the holidays, and the tradeshows are less-than-ideally positioned to launch new products.

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