Did Microsoft Miss the Boat Exiting CES Too Soon?

Last week's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas was arguably the most important one in Microsoft's history. Think about the circumstances: tablets and smartphones are getting the attention that desktops and notebooks once had, PC sales growth is down, and Windows 8 is an operating system for a new era, one in which Microsoft very much wants to be a part of. Why, then, didn't Microsoft make a bigger splash?

It's a curious question, one that led the Associated Press to deem CES a "missed chance" for Microsoft to promote the heck out of all these new Windows 8 devices unveiled at the convention.

CES was also a great opportunity to build solidarity between Microsoft and its hardware partners. That's a point that shouldn't be underestimated when just two months ago Microsoft behind closed doors was pointing the finger at PC makers for Windows 8 sales getting off to a slow start.

HP Envy TouchSmart

Despite all the hype leading up to its launch, Windows 8 isn't even selling as well as Vista did when it first debuted. Of course, the landscape looked different back then, both in the PC world and the economy in general, but it would be foolish to say that Windows 8 is the kind of runaway success Microsoft had hoped it would be at this point.

Don't expect Microsoft to admit as much. The Redmond company insists that Windows 8 is doing well, and as far as CES is concerned, it doesn't feel that investing a ton of time and money into the convention is warranted these days. Microsoft didn't even have a booth at the show, and brought along just a small number of executives. Again, this might have been the most important CES in Microsoft's history.

"We are very comfortable with our decision," Microsoft spokesman Frank Shaw told AP. "It has been a productive show for us this year."

Maybe Microsoft's biggest problem is that of perception.