LAS VEGAS -- This is two days late, but, really, what in the name of Windows 95 was going on in Microsoft's keynote speech at CES 2012? Of all the wacky, weird, strange gadgets, gizmos and ideas on display here in Las Vegas, Microsoft's final appearance as the keynote presenter at the Consumer Electronics Show just might take the bat-poop-crazy cake (available at Baskin-Robbins), as for a little under an hour, the megalithic corporation that has made much of its money on enterprise and corporate machines marched out one bizarre surprise after another, launching a disorienting whirlwind of jaw-dropping absurdities.
At the end of the presentation, when Steve Ballmer and co-host Ryan Seacrest (which, by the way -- what?) exited the stage, I was left glued to my seat, mouth open as though I'd seen "Springtime for Hitler" performed for the first time, unsure of whether I'd just viewed something brilliant, mad or unhinged. Part of me thought Ashton Kutcher might pop out and tell us we had been punked.
Alas, there was no Kutcher, only Seacrest and Ballmer, our tour guides on the Presentational Cruise Ship From Hell, curating what felt like an hallucinatory nightmare voyage through the feverish imagination of an acid-tripping Microsoft product manager. A Microsoft employee once accused Google of throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what stuck; about halfway through Ballmer's ultimate keynote at CES, I'm pretty sure I was struck in the face by some half-cooked linguini.
Below, relive the madness of Microsoft's CES keynote, with video and photographic highlights of Ballmer's odyssey.