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Microsoft to Launch 'Windows TV' at CES, Reports Suggest

Reuters

Even before he kicks off the tech industry's annual geek gathering, it seems that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is late to the party.

With Internet-connected TVs all the rage, Ballmer is likely to talk about "Microsoft TV" during his keynote speech tonight at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Microsoft is reportedly working on a pared-down version of Windows that will run on set-top boxes and Blu-ray players.

Ballmer's entry will follow Apple TV and Google TV, with the new Windows TV boxes rumored to cost a hefty $200 a pop.

Microsoft has had a run at this sector before with a similar concept named WebTV.

So it's hard not to feel that the company's target market is late adopters, given that the software behemoth is also behind the curve in the tablet market and in smartphones.

Microsoft may have more luck pitching an update, dubbed Avatar Kinect, for its popular Xbox 360 gaming device.

A leaked screenshot suggests Avatar will map users' body movements more accurately to create a virtual self onscreen.

* Digital music chiefs are headed to CES to further talks with Google and Apple about their respective music endeavors.

Sources say even executives from Apple -- whose chief, Steve Jobs, has long shunned CES -- are slated for meetings to discuss their iTunes ambitions.

Rival Google is pushing hard to get firm commitments for its own music initiatives, which include a song-download store and a cloud-based "locker" service for storing music.

Meanwhile, Sony will be all over CES with a cloud-based music service that allows consumers to access millions of songs for a subscription fee.

Sony's Qriocity is up and running in parts of Europe and is expected to roll out in the US this year.

The service will enable users to access songs via such devices as gaming consoles, Bravia TVs and Android phones for a small fee.

* Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, arguably one of the biggest tech innovators of the past 12 months, will be on hand Friday for a Q&A with HuffPo co-founder Arianna Huffington.

Ahead of his CES appearance, Netflix announced yesterday it is working with a host of companies to create a Netflix-branded button on remotes for Web-connected TVs, DVD players and gaming devices.

* The big merger news that was supposed to come out of CES was Qualcomm reaching a $3.5 billion deal to buy Bluetooth designer Atheros.

However, the story broke in advance of the show, making any announcement anti-climatic, a source close to the situation said.

While there's a chance a rival suitor could make a last-minute bid, potential candidates seem tied up with other issues.

Broadcom is too small to take on Qualcomm, Intel is busy trying to get anti-trust approval for its McAfee purchase and Samsung might not have an appetite to make a rival approach again after losing out on SanDisk, the source said.