Las Vegas: If attendance at the annual Consumer Electronics Show is an indication of the state of the industry, then 2012 got off to a promising start.
According to the Consumer Electronics Association, nearly 150,000 people descended on Las Vegas for this year's conference, one of the largest crowds in the show's history. Those in attendance ranged from press, vendors and retail buyers to gaming enthusiasts and gadget freaks.
Many of the biggest names in the business also turned out for the show. Top names in the home electronics, PC and mobile devices sectors set up camp on the show floor and built elaborate displays.
Yet, despite the record crowds and sophisticated advertising, none were able to steal the show at this year's event.
Microsoft made its biggest CES headlines weeks before the show even kicked off. The company revealed in December that it would be withdrawing from its top billing by relinquishing the annual keynote address and dramatically reducing its presence on the show floor.
When chief executive Steve Ballmer finally did make his way to the stage, the conversation was dominated by both the desktop and mobile flavours of Windows. Microsoft introduced a fresh crop of devices, including another handset from Nokia, which will be featuring the Windows Phone operating system.
Also starring in the keynote was Windows 8. Not to be outdone, Microsoft's flagship operating system is due to arrive later this year and will focus on tablets as much as desktops.
The Metro platform will provide a clean layout and web integration, which looks to dramatically improve the Windows experience on tablets.
The tablet theme was picked up by a number of hardware Vendors. Samsung, Sony and Asus all showed off their respective visions for future tablets. The designs ranged from the stylus-equipped Note from Samsung to the foldable dual-screen Sony Tablet-P.
Research in Motion, meanwhile, attempted to shoot some life into its BlackBerry and Playbook lines with the addition of operating system updates, which brought new scheduling and tethering features for the platforms.
One of the bigger releases at CES will also come as a letdown for gadget-hungry Brits. Manufacturer Asus revealed that its 7in quad-core Tegra tablet will not be going on sale in the UK any time soon.
A new entry into the mobile space was also revealed at the conference. Lenovo made some of the biggest headlines when it revealed its first Atom-powered smartphone in its K800 handset. Also opting for Atom is Motorola, which will begin work on its devices later this year.
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