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CES 2013 Bigger Than Ever Even Without Microsoft

Just before CES 2012 went live back in January, Microsoft announced that starting in 2013, the company would not be a major participant in the technology show. No longer will the Windows giant present the keynote speech or dominate the showroom floor with a huge booth. Why? Because the company's product news milestones generally don’t align with the show’s January timing, Microsoft said.

"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," the company said just over a year ago.

The news was surprising given that the company served as an "anchor tenant" over the last decade. But its departure brought up questions as to whether CES has become irrelevant. After all, Apple and Google – who typically don't make an appearance at the Las Vegas show – have their own events. But with Microsoft now signed out, there has been speculation that CES may dwindle down to nothing given all the other tech expos throughout the year, and the show's immediate post-holiday timeframe.

But that doesn't seem to be the case. Earlier this month, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) said that the 2013 show will have a record amount of exhibit space despite Microsoft's exit, beating the previous 2012 show which featured 1.862 million net square feet. This year CES 2013 will have more than 1.87 million net square feet featuring 3,000 exhibitors.

"With the largest show floor in history, more innovative technologies and services will launch at the 2013 CES than anywhere else in the world," said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO, CEA. "From cloud-based services, advancements in digital health, connected vehicle technologies, the latest apps, flexible devices and beyond, the innovations unveiled at the 2013 CES will create new jobs and further economic growth around the world."

A record number of eight automakers will exhibit at the 2013 CES show, including Audi, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Ford, Hyundai, Kia, Lexus and Subaru, across more than 100,000 net square feet of exhibit space, the CEA added. The iLounge Pavilion is also making a return, with a combined total of 120,000 net square feet of i-related products and technologies showcased by more than 440 exhibitors.

That said, it seems that CES 2013 will do just fine swimming in the press pool without its Microsoft floaties. "Last year we had 156,153 audited attendees and more than 3,100 exhibitors across 1.862 million nsf. This year we are expecting more than 150,000 attendees (we won’t have a final number until after the audit in April), 3,000 exhibitors across more than 1.87 million nsf," a spokesperson told the LA Times.

But as Microsoft pointed out, it will still be present at CES 2013. In fact, this would be a bad time to completely disconnect given that Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 and its own Surface RT tablet is on the market, and the Surface Pro is gearing up for a January release. But as for other new products, Microsoft will likely save its own hardware for exclusive reveals while Windows hardware partners will showcase their own solutions in January.

CES 2013 begins a week on January 7, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada.