Microsoft's Stage Presence

Watching the Windows 8 announcement live, I can't help but notice the stark contrasts between Microsoft's and Apple's presentation styles. A few thoughts so far:

  • There's no theatricality. No "magic". Just bland statements about upcoming features.
  • They hardly even display any of these new features while talking about them. During Ballmer's own presentation there were slides on-screen behind him for several minutes, never changing to reflect whatever he was talking about at the time.
  • I don't think I saw Ballmer smile once *during* the presentation, only briefly as he came on stage and when he left. Seemed almost bored with what he was talking about.
  • Other presenters were stumbling over their words, as if they hadn't rehearsed enough. In fact, I think Ballmer might have been reading from a prompter on the floor.
  • At one point, the stage was practically littered with the various products that Windows 8 will support. It looked like a miniature Best Buy showroom up there. The presenters had to weave in and out of the various pedestals like some kind of obstacle course. Bizarre.

I found myself getting bored watching these presentations, and that's a bad thing. I actually think Microsoft's products lately have displayed some interesting concepts, but that won't be enough to get any iPad owners to switch to a Surface. There are tangible benefits to having some showmanship, and Microsoft has always been lacking in that area.

Not once did I find myself drifting out during the Apple Keynote, because they know how to keep things interesting from start to finish, even when talking about products I'm not necessarily interested in buying.