Ballmer claims Windows will change in future versions

By Tom Warren, on 11th Mar 11 1:04 pm with 39 Comments

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has claimed that Windows is changing.

“[Windows] will look a lot different and it will run different applications” than it does in 2011, Ballmer told an audience at the Houston Technology Center on Thursday. “Will all these innovations, will Windows look like it does today? Of course not!”

Ballmer’s comments follow company criticisms from industry analysts and even Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Microsoft famously introduced its Tablet PC edition of Windows in 2001. The company produced a hardware specification for its OEM partners that would see hundreds of pen-enabled personal computers on the market. Microsoft originally licensed a separate copy of Windows, Windows XP Tablet PC Edition, before integrating the technology into future Windows versions. Despite Microsoft’s head start, Tablet PCs have not sold in large quantities. The software giant has been criticized for its slow response to Apple’s iPad device, introduced in April, 2010. Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, previously said Windows 7 based Slates would be available “as soon as they’re ready” when questioned earlier in 2010. Microsoft’s hardware partners introduced a range of new form factors at CES, a mix between traditional Slates and laptops.

Ballmer also spoke briefly about how Apple has turned its fortunes around, according to the Houston Chronicle. “When I started at Microsoft, Apple was bigger than us,” he said. “By 1997, Apple was almost bankrupt. Now, Apple has turned itself around quite nicely. You see, you can come, go, come and go, and come again!”

Ballmer’s comments hint that Windows 8 will be a major change for the company. Rumors suggest that Microsoft may introduce Windows 8 ARM based tablets ahead of a full desktop release. Microsoft’s competitive tablet strategy is believed to be further along than expected. Dell’s recently leaked Tablet Roadmap revealed that the OEM has marked Q1 2012 as its date for a Windows 8 based slate. WinRumors understands that Microsoft has been working on an ARM based version of Windows for nearly a year and that it is laboring hard to bring this to the market as soon as possible. Microsoft has previously promised a “major revamp” of Windows for slate applications, that will come in the next version, Windows 8.

  • GP007

    I don’t think he’s saying anything surprising. Tablets need a finger friendly UI more like smartphones, sure the OS will be Windows but the UI will be different and it can run different apps in the sense that they’ll be Silverlight/XNA/.NET based and less and less native C++.

  • Manish

    That is nice. But MS needs to be quick in this race else once people are used to Android or iPod, to bring back to Windows Tablet would be very hard.

    • Mark

      MS and quick is an oxymoron.

    • LasLM

      yes, you know…it´s the same hard work to take your phone OS and put the same OS in a 10″ screen…..that take a whole desktop OS and adapt it to run on system on a chip, and also to create a finger touch interface for it….

      It´s the same. You know.

    • Mark

      Apple’s phone OS is their desktop OS, which they adapted for mobile, touch, and SOC. Why with less to lose and 1/10th the R&D were they able to do that years ago while MS hasn’t?

      Answer: MS and quick is an oxymoron.

    • WillT

      that’s not entirely fair – Apple does no long-term R&D, or basic scientific research. While you could argue that MS shouldn’t, or that the research it does do should be productized faster, it’s not a apples to apples comparison. Also, for as much as Apple wants to say in their marketing that iOS and Mac OS X are the same, a closer look shows they don’t share too much. APIs are related, but they did a lot of engineering work, over many years to get Mac OS X onto the phone. It’s not like they just plopped it down.

    • Mark

      They share the same kernel, the same development environment, the same language, and many of the same APIs. R is around 6% of MS R&D. Put differently, MS spends 6-8 times more on Development alone than Apple’s entire R&D budget. So again, how come Apple did this YEARS ago and MS still hasn’t done it? Because MS is sloooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooow.

    • Guest

      It is idiotic to compare Apple and Microsoft development cycles. Microsoft has presence in many places SQL Server, Sharepoint, Windows, XBox, Windows Phone 7, Server Market, Browser , .NET Framwork and many other products. Apples portfolio is quite limited if you consider it. Microsoft is huge when it comes to database, server markets. They created the whole .NET Framework with not just new programming languages but with many ORM products, web services framworkds etc etc. Then they have a whole gaming product with XBox and Kinect.

      Secondly Apple OS runs on very specific hardware which they approve while windows run on anything that you can buy there. That is a freaking hard thing to do. It is not as simple as people think.

      So when you compare two companies and there products than you need to be clued up about what they do and how they compare.

    • Mark

      Okay, let’s just take a % equivalent to what Windows represents in MS’s overall revenue. There’s no reason to think they’re underfunding Windows, right? That would be insane. So we’re still talking twice Apple’s entire R&D budget. And that’s every year for a decade. Shouldn’t $20B have been enough to overcome the extra hardware variety?

      Face it, the issue isn’t even the money. MS was late to get started and is just slower than Apple in almost everything. Just look at phone updates as a recent example.

    • Guest

      You know you just do not even understand what you are talking about. Windows has many things integrated within it. It is not just an OS like OSX. It has a server platform which runs various services. It will have cloud integration. Then the support for all other SDKs from .NET Framework, WDK, Filter Manager, tons of hardware support , SQL Server integration, ASP.NET, WCF integration. Are you tellling me that does not take effort to fit in.

      The real thing is that you have no clue what you are talking about. You are just an Apple fanboy who is here to flame MS. Nothing what you are talking is making any sense whatsoever. Apple is a tiny player in server and desktop market. When they regain that market than we will talk about it. Till than shut the hell up.

    • GP007

      A few things you adn other are overlooking. First off the tablet market has just started, and while it’s true the iPad is first and kickstarted it, that doesn’t mean the race is going to be over soon (if ever). The second thing is that speed does sem to matter, look how fast Androids tablets have kept popping up outta the woodwork, are any of them big sales hits? I don’t think so. There’s an arugment to be made for the Galaxy Tab but even that doesn’t come close to the iPad, so speeds is hardly the issue here.

    • Manish

      quicker is better

  • Aethec

    Midori + Win32 virtualization, probably.

  • Grannyville7989

    I’ll be happy with a built-in PDF reader :)

    Also, I’m interested in how the Windows 8 tablets will be. I’m one of the few people who needs a stylus (along with touch-friendly UI) to be able to make notes when I’m sitting through university lectures. It would make doodling on my work far easier while I’m not paying attention.

    • Aethec

      A built-in PDF reader? They’d have to put a “PDF Reader Ballot”.

    • Grannyville7989

      LOL! Very true :)

    • Mark

      Spell check for me.

  • Larry

    I so wish the blog world would drop the whole Windows tablets from 2001, especially when comparing the iPad to them.

    Had Apple tried to build an iPad in 2001 it would have failed horribly. The technology then was crude when it came to thin, light, power devices. There was not even 3G wireless, and Wifi was stuck at 802.11b. We barely had Color Blackberries in 2001. Remember Apple does not create the technologies that go into the iPad, they assemble them and market them.

    Apple released some real winners, the newton, the message pad, and the emate, all raging failures….but why dont we here about those??

    • Wourelia

      Because Apple does have a good marketing team (And way to many fanboys/fangirls) and MS doesn´t.

      And also because you need a Mac to express your unique individuality.

    • Guest

      If MS came out with Zune2 tomorrow and it somehow obliterated Apple’s ten year lead in iPods in its first year, do you really think blogs wouldn’t be reporting that?

      Losing the tablet market to Apple’s first product (rigth after doing the same thing in mobile) is a epic failure. There’s just no way to minimize that.

    • Nimo

      Microsoft doesn´t lead in the Mobile sector, and also in the Tablet PC (that was a niche product).

      So, you can´t say that Apple stole the leadership to MS because is false.

    • Guest

      MS did lead in the tablet sector for most of the last decade and they were a top 3 or 3 player in mobile before Apple destroyed them.

    • GP007

      The tablet sector was still a niche then, it was too early and people didn’t think about mobile like they do now, it was too soon and the timing was off. If anything Apple got the timing of the iPad right, nothing else.

    • GP007

      The tablet market has just started going, as did smartphones a few years ago, being first to something doesn’t mean you have the market in your pocket. Ask Apple how they feal about Android taking it’s smartphone lead right now? Why do you think the tablet market is any different?

      I think it’s stupid to jump to conclusions at this point, MS will have it’s tablet UI out in 2012 and that’s enough time to get it’s share of the pie that’s still growing.

    • Joe05

      I agree and good point, Microsoft sometimes jumps into a market when the hardware’s just not there.
      Apple looked at the market and Microsoft, and saw what was needed to make a successful product.

      You can’t take away Apples success here, they made some very good decisions, Base the OS on something smaller and lighter that would run on very efficient and low voltage ARM chips.
      Give it a touch friendly UI that is not geared towards desktop use and sell out of the world most successful retail chain, that’s by dollars sold per square foot, not Walmart success.

      The ipad deserves its early success, yet Microsoft can still be a player here and I think that they will be with Windows 8.

    • Guest

      Uh huh. Didn’t we hear the same argument after losing mobile? How’s that working out four years later? Even with WP7 out for five months now, share is still declining. The Nokia deal was a desperation effort. Without it, MS was effectively out of mobile. With it, MS might be able to return to the top five, although they won’t make any money on it. Whereas Apple will be making a lot and Android will make enough off advertising to at least breakeven.

      Tablets will end up the same: Google and Apple fighting for #1 and #2, MS nowhere. Who will be their “Nokia” then? HP, if WebOS fails? Nokia itself? Why are the other OEMs, all of whom are focused on Android, going to drop that in favor of W8? Sorry, it’s over. Even Steve knows that. Why do you think he sold 20% of his shares in December?

    • GP007

      Who cares why he sold shares? When gates was still around in the 90′s he sold shares often as well, what was the reason then? Give it a rest, you have no crystal ball and you don’t know how the market will turn out a year or two years from now. The fact is, and try to wrap this around your head, both smartphones and tablets to a lesser extent are smaller pieces of bigger markets, Smartphones still haven’t taken over the majority of phones sales, which is still feature/dumb phones, there is no race in a market that’s always in flux. Talbets are a small subsection of PCs and just taking off, there is no clear winner regardless of how you wanna spin it with your anti-MS view.

      No market is lost when they’re both still going and MS is in it for the long run.

    • oolong2

      One thing to keep in mind is that Tablet Computer *does not equal* iPad… The iPad is not a personal computing device, it’s basically a big iPod.

      People are not buying iPads to replace their computer, they are buying it to augment what they already have.

      So it’s a convenience or entertainment item (like a game console) not a necessity.

      Until people start buying iPads instead of computers then it’s a moot point to talk about sales. It’s comparing Apples to Oranges. You might as well compare iPad sales to MacBook sales, or X-Box sales to MacPro sales.

  • Guest

    “Now, Apple has turned itself around quite nicely.”

    There’s an understatement. More valuable now than MS, and by a lot. Larger by revenue. Starting this quarter probably larger by total profit. Growing 3X faster. Ballmer is a joke and has destroyed MS.

    • noFasl

      In 2010 Microsoft earns more money than Apple….

      And you think MS is destroyed…..You seem out of reality

    • Guest

      What’s the projection for 2011? Oh right. Nevermind.

    • GP007

      Destroyed MS? Talk about an overstatment from you yet again. The 360 is selling like crazy, kinect is off to a huge start, Bing is gaining share since it started, Win7 was a solid success compared to Vista, Office 2010 is the best ans fastest selling office version ever, the Zune service is growing it’s marketshare as well.

    • Guest

      What would you call it when a company enters the decade a leader and exits a laughing stock? When a competitor that was nearly bankrupt when Ballmer became CEO is now larger by revenue, more valuable, and soon to be more profitable?

    • GP007

      I call it you being a drama queen, oh no the sky is falling! MS’s profits have been up all but one or two quarters since Ballmer has been CEO and as I noted the things that have come out while he’s been in charge have done well. You want to point to WP7 which has just started as not being a overnight hit, well guess what, they didn’t expect it to be one. You want to moan about tablets, well guess what, MS will have it’s offering in early 2012.

    • Guest

      Yeah, i know, the truth hurts.

    • Joe05

      Apple..Like Microsoft will have its peak and then settle into a more predictable and long term trajectory.
      The same can already be said for Google, it’s nice to burn in the business world like a supernova, but it’s rarely sustainable.
      In the larger picture Apple is a very important presence in the consumer business world, but as much a fan that I am of some of their products, I Know it wont last.

    • Guest

      Finally, an intelligent response. yeah I agree, but it’s still years away. MS’s is here now and has been for a while.

    • Joe05

      Yeah, I would say a few years away though not more than say 5 years or so. It’s funny because for all the comparisons between the two companies business models, they couldn’t be more different.

      Apple is almost exclusively focused on consumer business and Microsoft has been heavily focused on the business and enterprise side of things that are harder to quantify for the none technical or layman.

      Microsoft is a hugely successful company that has grown to the point were it essentially mints money on a daily basis. Apple is there now too.

      Google position is more precarious, they aren’t hardware based, and have a relatively weak presence in the business side of things.It’s not terribly hard to change your search preferences in very short order. Android is huge, but make very little money for Google considering it’s reach.


  • Pinche

    Folks, remember.. Apple hasnt done anything earth shattering here. They taken what worked extremely well, the iPhone, and exploded it to the iTouch to iPad..Its fundamentally the same device. Add in their fore runner app development and they have themselves a considerable lead. The race is far from over, but GOOG and MSFT, etc got some serious catching up to do. Its an interesting time.. Apple, Google, HP, MSFT.. all in the same race… when was the last time we saw such competition in the same vein. :)