When Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Steve Ballmer takes the stage tonight at the Las Vegas Hilton, he'll be the first of a handful of keynote speakers to address the tech-savvy crowd during this week's Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

You know the drill. The next few days will be filled with hype and vaporware of gadgetry that will never see the light of day. I guess it's true: Whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.

However, there will also be many real rollouts and head-turning announcements between now and Sunday's close of the annual exposition.

It may not seem that way when you eye the list of scheduled keynote speakers. Microsoft remains the world's largest software company, but its glory days seem to be in the rearview mirror as it drives into the playing field's flatlands.

The other CEOs set to give keynote addresses also would appear to be yesteryear darlings.

  • Ford (NYSE:F) CEO Alan Mulally revs up the early risers tomorrow morning.
  • Intel's (NASDAQ:INTC) Paul Otellini takes the stage tomorrow afternoon.
  • Nokia (NYSE:NOK) CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo speaks on Friday morning, followed two hours later by Qualcomm's (NASDAQ:QCOM) Paul Jacobs.

None of these guys is working on personal hovercraft, teleportation pods, or even DeLoreans that can drive off into the 1950s. In the Hanna-Barbera grid of perceptions, they're closer to The Flintstones than The Jetsons.

However, let's take a closer look under the hoods.

Cloud computing and open-source solutions may be eating at Microsoft's dominance, but it was able to breathe new life into its search business when it launched Bing and struck a technology deal with Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO). There is also plenty of hype surrounding Project Natal for its Xbox 360 console, raising the bar on physical gamer interaction.

Ford is also a logical participant, given the rapidly evolving in-car gadgetry. Ford has been at the forefront with its SYNC technology and has already committed to pushing HD Radio and in-car Wi-Fi in 2010.

Intel's Atom chips have fueled the netbook revolution. Nokia doesn't have the same stateside sizzle as the country's leading smartphone players, but it remains the global leader in handsets.

In short, don't bury the dinosaurs just yet. They will still have plenty to say about how they intend to shape your future.

What do you think will be the biggest announcement during the CES? Share your vision in the comments box below.

Intel, Microsoft, and Nokia are Motley Fool Inside Value picks. Ford is a Stock Advisor recommendation. Motley Fool Options recommends buying Intel calls and a diagonal call strategy on Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletters free for 30 days.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz believes that whatever hype ends in Vegas, strays in Vegas. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this article. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.