Ballmer misquoted, Microsoft not bringing “Windows 8 down to the phone”

By Tom Warren, on 15th Nov 11 7:55 pm with 25 Comments

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was the subject of an embarassing misquote on Tuesday.

Ballmer was speaking during Microsoft’s annual shareholders meeting and answered several questions on Microsoft’s future. The most notable were his comments on a “post-PC” era of computing. Ballmer was asked whether we are in a post-PC era world and what his expectations are of the PC market going forward. He replied:

“Well one thing I know is, we’re certainly not, we are in the Windows era. We were, we are and we always will be. That’s kinda what we get paid to do. We’ve got broad Windows initiatives driving Windows down to the phone. With Windows 8, you’ll see incredible new form factors powered by Windows from tablets, small, large, pens, smaller, bigger, room-sized displays. We are in an era in which the range of smart devices is continuing to expand. That’s a fantastic thing for Microsoft. That is a real opportunity.”

You can hear Ballmer’s full remarks below. A large number of press outlets and bloggers heard his remarks differently and thought Ballmer had confirmed that Windows 8 was coming to phones. Microsoft has been very clear that Windows 8 will be made available for 7″ devices and upwards. My understand is that Microsoft has no plans to make Windows 8 available for phones and that the company will focus on pushing the two ecosystems together with Windows 9, which will also include the mix of a next-generation Xbox.

Microsoft’s Andy Lees, the company’s president of the Windows Phone Division, spoke at a keynote address during Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference earlier this year. Lees outlined a single vision for combining Windows and Windows Phone. “We won’t have an ecosystem for PCs and an ecosystem for phones, one for tablets. They’ll all come together,” he explained. “It’s not that this is about replacing the PC, and that’s why our strategy is that these new form factors are within a single ecosystem and not new ecosystems themselves.”

Despite the overarching mission, Microsoft will not accomplish this with Windows 8 alone. “Our strategy is not just limited to that. We are aiming to provide coherence and consistency across the PC, the phone and the TV, particularly with Xbox. That’s through providing new types of scenarios, things like the way in which you make the user experience more common,” said Lees at the time. Expect a single ecosystem in the future but not as close as Windows 8.

  • Entegy

    So basically, Windows Phone 8 is still a separate product, but they are coming closer together as future version of their products get released.

    • Guest

      Obviously MS would be interested in having a single code base to maintain if it were possible. But then they’ve been trying to that for a decade without much success. And it’s not clear that mobile and PCs will get there anytime soon. Even Apple who uses the same base for both OSes and used to market it that way has now rebranded the phone OS and taken it in a substantially different direction than OS X, even though they’ve ported some things over in Lion.

    • Anonymous

      Lion is Step 1 in the iOSization of OS X. Application sandboxing will be Step 2 and that arrives in a few months.

    • Anonymous

      lion is not a touch os. will never be.

  • Gamer

    Lol this guy….

  • Anonymous

    ok now you are confusing me 
    when he said “Windows down to the phone. With Windows 8″
    that mean they are going to use windows 8 kernel on windows phone with the necessarily changes right ?

  • Candide Yams

    Basically it was a question of where you place the full stop in the sentence when he said “With windows 8.” mm ambiguity. But it’s pretty clear that it ended before “with Windows 8.” It’s was a different thought and would otherwise be a runon sentence. 

  • Anonymous

    Oh boy! Time to bash Ballmer because other people misquote what he said.  From the way I’m reading this, all he is saying is they have broad initiatives across all Windows, including “down” to the phone.  And then he elaborates on some of the new form factors with Windows 8.

  • OddPattern

    Honestly, it’s pretty hard to catch that stop between “phone” and “Windows 8″, no wonder so many people misquoted him.

    • J A

      I am surprised that people are still talking about the nonsense of merging WP, PC, and Xbox OSes. That should not and will not happen.

    • OddPattern

      I agree that it shouldn’t be completely merged, but there should be more integration involved between the services (we’ll most likely see that with Windows 8 anyway).

    • Anonymous

      I have to disagree.  It should happen and it will happen.  Hardware will keep getting cheaper and better, but software development time will remain expensive.  Thus there will always be an end goal of a write once, run everywhere ecosystem like the “3 screens and a cloud” vision.  That’s not to say that the UI will be the same across all products.  Although I like the direction MS is taking which is to have some common UI theme across their ecosystem.  But eventually I would imagine that at least the kernel will be the same.

    • Arne Helseth

      Exactly. It’s not about bringing the Windows 8 UX (even though them may be similar) to the Phone or Xbox, it’s all about merging the kernels and this _will_ happen.

      It’s a bit like how everyone said WP7 was a new OS. It really wasn’t. It was an old (albeit upgraded) OS with a completely new UI and frameworks running on top of it.

    • Collins

      Call it MinWin instead of the “kernel” and you are correct. Hal Barenson, an ex-Microsoft distinguished engineer that wrote a good blog post on why he favors a unified Win8/WP8 OS base, has also stated that
      although he originally used the term WinNT kernel, what he is actually referring to is MinWin. The imprecise use of the word “kernel” has led to a LOT of confusion. Software engineers realize that bringing nothing more than the Win8 kernel to WP8 provides zero immediate benefits. The real value proposition lies in the WP8 team being able to use the full blown .NET Framework (not the .NET CF), Win8′s security architecture, and Win8′s file and networking features. Although MinWin requires the Win8 kernel to run, none of these features are part of the kernel itself!

    • phil jay

      Just bring me the whole WinRT XAML stack down to the phone along with the native/js/.net development, I don’t care if the OS is the same or not, just the dev stack.

    • Pedro Roque

      Clearly, you’re clueless…
      No one is talking about bringing Windows to the Phone. What we are talking about is bringing the kernel to every device. That would give us a common development platform, with access to native code.

    • Robert Wade

      I disagree as well.  I think it’s more likely that we’ll see the same core with some chunks that are “pushed forward”, much like the Home Media version of Windows.  It was still the Windows desktop, but there was definite emphasis or enhancements for doing media.  The XBox version of whatever the future OS looks like would obviously push forward all the gaming aspects.  The desktop would push forward the most versatility, followed by the tablet and then the phone.

  • Avatar Roku

    Clearly was 2 separate sentences. Can’t blame Ballmer for bad journalism.

  • James

    Well I personally think that this guy  is not well my friend  Ballmer  the only thing that is going to save window mobil is  running windows 8 in mobil phones . Dude if I was  you thank god not  i would get off that chair because if i had stocks on Microsoft I would off cut your Ballmers off.

    • Guest

      Shareholders has given up a good deal of value over years, thanks to this clown.   MS will continue be  a declining giant until this guy is gone.  Sad to watch.

  • Anonymous

    What he meant is a Windows 8 PC/Tablet, Windows Phone 8, XBOX will all be integrated seamlessly to the user.

  • Anonymous

    and yet, windows phone 8 is firmly rooted in the win8 kernel. so everybody knows what he meant even if he didn’t mean to say in a way that wasn’t what he meant to spin it. so we all know what he meant:

    win8 will be in your phone one way or another.

    • Collins

      I’m not disagreeing with you. However, I find it very important to clarify that what we are talking about is MinWin, not just the Win8 kernel (see my more extensive post above).

  • Anonymous

    He is NOT misquoted. I sware, even though the official transcript states otherwise. Let me prove it.

    “drive Windows down to the phone”, what did he mean by “Windows”? It can’t be just Windows in general. If so, that’s nothing to talk about. Windows on phone since like 8 years ago. So, “Windows” on the phone has to be the full Windows.  Next question, what full Windows? We can safely exclude Windows 9. That’s too far away to make sense here. So, it gets down to Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8.

    It is a confirmation, that Windows Phone 8 will share the core with Windows 8, maybe more than that.

  • xpclient

    “driving Windows down to the phone with Windows 8″. Replace “driving” with “dumbing” as that’s what he meant.