SOFTWARE SHOPKEEPER Steve Ballmer is convinced that whenever Microsoft sees an opportunity to jump into a hardware market, it will.
Today Microsoft is going unveil Windows 8, which is software. It's software with an eye on a new kind of hardware though, one that likes application stores and touchscreens like the Surface tablets that the firm will soon be releasing.
Microsoft is selling out of Surface tablets on its websites, though admittedly we don't know how many it had in stock, and it is perhaps this that has encouraged Ballmer to get all bullish about other hardware releases.
"Is it fair to say we're going to do more hardware?" he rhetorically asked the BBC. "Obviously we are... Where we see important opportunities to set a new standard, yeah we'll dive in."
Microsoft has dived in before. It bought phone upstart Sendo when mobile phones were all the rage, launched the Zune when music players were all the rage and tied up with Nokia a few years after smartphones became all the rage.
Did Microsoft set new standards in those areas? No. It has had success in games consoles though, with the Xbox, so perhaps Ballmer is thinking more about that than music players, mobile phones and smartphones. Oh, and tablets the last time they were around and before Apple had created a market for them.
Anyway, in a video interview with the BBC Ballmer said that the twin launches of Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 is "an epic thing" for Microsoft, adding, "It's right up there with the top two or three big moments." Ballmer could only name two here, the launch of Windows 95 and the launch of the first IBM PC, but if he is not keeping count, why should we?
Ballmer was asked whether Microsoft is late to the tablet party. He said no, explaining that no other device does what Surface does. "There's no device that's like a Surface," he said, adding that "you can take it with you" and "enjoy movies books, reading, games" on it.
Then, to make sure we have it, he added, "There's nothing like Microsoft Surface on the market today and I'm really excited about it." µ