Microsoft has announced that CES 2012 will mark its last major appearance at the prominent Las Vegas tradeshow. On January 9 at 6:30PM, CEO Steve Ballmer is expected to give his third keynote speech since taking the helm in 2009, but the software giant will concede its stage time in the coming years. Although it will continue participating in CES to connect with partners and customers, Microsoft won't deliver a keynote or schedule a booth.

It's nothing personal of course, Microsoft explains that CES simply doesn't jibe with its marketing strategy. "What's the right time and place to make announcements? Are we adjusting to the changing dynamics of our customers? Are we doing something because it's the right thing to do, or because it's the way we've always done it?" the company asked. "Our product news milestones generally don't align with the show's January timing," it concluded.

The software giant said it has enjoyed nearly a 20-year working relationship with the Consumer Electronics Association and despite its decision, that camaraderie will continue. Instead of structuring its product news around CES, Microsoft will focus on direct communication and its own gatherings – much like Google and Apple, which also avoid CES. In a recent example, the company celebrated its new Windows Phone 7 platform in New York City.

The CEA doesn't seem particularly concerned about Microsoft's withdrawal from future conventions. "Both CEA and Microsoft have agreed that the time has come to end this great run, and so Microsoft will not have a keynote at the 2013 CES," the group said. It continued by adding that with 2,700 exhibitors, the organizer won't have any trouble filling Redmond's former rental space. "Microsoft is an important member of CEA and we wish them all the best."

Although Microsoft will attend this year's show, the company doesn't have anything too special planned. Engadget reports that the company won't share any "significant news," but will provide more of a "wrap up" of 2011's happenings. This will presumably include plenty of chatter about Windows 8, which is expected to reach beta sometime in February and should hit shelves next holiday season. You can download the developer preview now, though.