This week sees Europe's biggest technology fair, CeBit 2009, celebrate its twenty-third anniversary, having launched way back in 1986 in Hannover, Germany.

This year's show looks like it is set to be a far quieter and more muted affair than in past years, with a number of major exhibitors pulling out of the event and many more no doubt cutting back on 'non-essential' marketing and PR spending.

So out go the lavish launch events and raucous press parties and in comes a (in many ways, more welcome) streamlined 'strictly business' type approach for companies making new tech announcements and showing their latest products to press and industry reps in Hanover this week.

CeBit, IFA, CES

Reuters sums up CeBit's market positioning issues, noting that: "CeBit has lost ground both to the more gadget-oriented Berlin rival IFA - a summer fair that has increasingly drawn consumers - and to its U.S. competitor CES, whose annual show has the advantage of being two months earlier.

That aside, it is still a massive event. CeBit organiser Deutsche Messe still expects just under half a million visitors checking out the wares of over 4,300 exhibitors.

"Given the depth of the world economic crisis, this number of 4,300 (exhibitors) represents a success," said Ernst Raue, a Deutsche Messe managing board member.

Arnie opens show

Californian Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is set to officially open CeBit later this evening alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

CeBit's conference speakers include the likes of Intel Chairman Craig Barrett and Skype's COO Scott Durchslag.

TechRadar will be on the show floor bringing you all the latest news and opinion from some of the key exhibitors at this year's show. As with CES back in January, we expect to see a lot of focus on green and energy-saving technologies, a bunch of new super-skinny netbooks from the likes of Asus and MSI and a slew of new touchscreen and Wi-Fi enabled eBooks.