By PETER SVENSSON
AP Technology Writer
LAS VEGAS (AP) -- The trade group that puts on the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas says it has hit a record number of exhibitors this year, as the industry continues its rebound after the recession.
The show is already the largest trade show in the Americas. It opened Tuesday and is expected to draw more than 140,000 attendees.
The Consumer Electronics Association says the show has more than 3,100 exhibitors, up from a pre-show estimate of 2,800-plus. The show usually has just over 2,700 exhibitors, but dipped to 2,500 in 2010.
The record number of exhibitors demonstrates the show's enduring relevance for smaller exhibitors, even as Microsoft Corp. will stop exhibiting and end its 15-year tradition of an opening keynote speech. Monday's appearance by CEO Steve Ballmer was the last.
Much of his 70-minute presentation in Las Vegas revolved around Microsoft's work on software that Ballmer has been promising will make the company a bigger factor in the increasingly important market for smartphones and computer tablets. Microsoft Corp. hopes to make its biggest breakthrough with Windows 8, the next version of its dominant computer operating system due out later this year.
As expected, Ballmer didn't announce a specific date for Windows 8's mass-market release.
The rehash served as a reminder why Microsoft is bowing out of its starring role at CES. Ballmer no longer intends to deliver the opening speech because the event's early January schedule rarely coincides with Microsoft's product plans.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)