Samsung helped build the new Surface, which is now just four inches thick instead of a foot deep like the previous model. That means it can be wall mounted or used as a kiosk as well as a table-top. It is covered with strong Gorilla glass tough enough to withstand a beer bottle being dropped on it from 18 inches, he said.
The Royal Bank of Canada will be one of the first companies to use the new Surface computers in its banks.
Ballmer also announced a couple of new features and updates coming to Xbox and Windows Phone 7.
This spring, which is typically the second quarter in the U.S., Microsoft will begin letting Xbox Live subscribers use Kinect to do things like play and stop Netflix movies using gestures instead of a controller. People who subscribe to Hulu Plus through Xbox Live will also be able control that service with hand gestures, he said. Kinect, which was launched before the holiday season, lets people control and play games using body movements rather than a controller.
The technology behind Kinect will also be improving, Ballmer said. It will track more detailed movements like a smile and even the raising of eyebrows. That will allow a new application called Avatar Kinect. The app, which will be available to Xbox Live Gold members this spring, lets people sit in their living room and chat with friends in other locations, watching their avatars move on screen as they speak to each other.
Microsoft now has 30 million Xbox Live members and a new member joins every two seconds, Ballmer said. He also said that the company has sold 8 million Kinect sensors. He called the recent holiday season the biggest ever for Xbox.
Ballmer also talked up the launch of Windows Phone 7. There are now more than 5,500 apps available for users of the phones and more than half of Windows Phone 7 users download a new app every day, he said.
Over the next few months Microsoft will push out a series of updates to users of the phones. The first will offer them the ability to cut and paste text, an omission that many people criticized Microsoft for leaving out of the initial phones. Other updates will include performance improvements when loading and switching between apps, Ballmer said.
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