Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announces at the Consumer Electronics Show on Jan. 5, 2011. (By Lou Dematteis/Microsoft Handout)

Microsoft said Wednesday it won’t participate in the world’s biggest tech convention, the Consumers Electronics Show, after the January 2012 show.

The decision by Microsoft, a stalwart of the annual show, highlights a growing divide in the high-tech industry over the importance of such expensive showcases of their technology.

Apple doesn’t participate in the show and Silicon Valley giants such as Google and Amazon — both firms that have become consumer electronics firms — will have exhibits but at a smaller scale than firms such as Samsung, Intel and automakers.

The Consumer Electronics Association said that Microsoft has opened the show for the past 14 years with the first keynote speech. After discussing plans for 2013, the company and CEA “jointly agreed” that the tradition end.

“We decide who keynotes,” said Jason Oxman, a spokesman for CEA.

Many Silicon Valley companies have chosen smaller but influential events hosted by the Wall Street Journals’ All Things D site and Tech Crunch for top executives to speak. Apple founder Steve Jobs and Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg to speak have appeared at such events in recent years.

But for two decades Microsoft has used CES as a major platform for new product announcements and to hobnob with partners.

Microsoft said in a blog that after the Jan. 9-12, 2012, show, it will no longer participate in keynotes or buy booths at the massive CES show.

It said the timing of the show doesn’t necessarily fit its own product announcements.

“Are we doing something because it’s the right thing to do, or because ‘it’s the way we’ve always done it?’ ” spokesman Frank Shaw wrote.

“After thinking about questions like these, we have decided that this coming January will be our last keynote presentation and booth at CES,” he said.

Next month, Chief Executive Steve Ballmer will give the first keynote on Monday evening to open the show.


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This post has been updated since it was first published.