Ballmer: Making Microsoft Competitive In Tablets Is Top Of Mind6:50 PM EST Thu. Jul. 29, 2010
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is counting on a surge of new tablet computers based on Windows 7 and Intel’s upcoming ultra-low-voltage microprocessors to regain market momentum against Apple’s fast-selling iPad.
Speaking to financial analysts at Microsoft’s Redmond, Wash., headquarters Thursday, Ballmer acknowledged that Apple’s success in the tablet market has been “one of the top issues on my mind” and that Apple has “sold more than I’d like them to sell, let me be clear about that.”
Last week, during its third-quarter earnings call, Apple said it had sold more than 3 million iPad devices since the product debuted April 3. Industry analysts have been asking when tablet devices running Windows, also called “slate” computers, will hit the market.
Thursday Ballmer said he expects many of those devices to run on Intel’s forthcoming Atom System-on-Chip microprocessors, code-named “Oak Trail,” which are optimized for tablet computers and are expected to be available in early 2011.
At Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference in Washington D.C. two weeks ago Ballmer said Dell, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba are developing Windows-based tablet computers that will debut in the next several months. Thursday Ballmer had much the same message for financial analysts.
“We have to make things happen with Windows 7 on slates. We are in the process of doing that as we speak. We're working with our hardware partners, we're tuning Windows 7 to new slate hardware designs. They're bringing them to market,” Ballmer said. “They will be shipping as soon as they are ready. We are working with those partners, not just to deliver something, but to deliver products that people really want to go buy. It is job-one urgency around here. Nobody's sleeping at this point.”
Some Microsoft partners have said that Windows 7 isn’t a good fit for touch-driven tablet computers and they are skeptical whether a new effort to expand into so-called slate computers will be any more successful than Microsoft’s earlier tablet computing bid almost 10 years ago.
Ballmer also repeated arguments he and other Microsoft executives have made that tablet devices aren’t for everybody. “I don't think there is one size that fits all,” he said. “I don't think everybody wants a slate. I've been to too many meetings with journalists who have [spent] the first 10 minutes of the meeting setting up their i-Pad to look like a laptop.”
Ballmer said Microsoft continues to gain market share in laptop computers, and pointed to forecasts that 400 million PCs will be sold in 2011.
The Microsoft CEO also touted the vendor’s upcoming Windows Phone 7 mobile operating system as laying the ground to get Microsoft back into the smartphone market where the company is far behind Apple, Google and other rivals.
Ballmer also spoke about Microsoft’s retail store plans, saying the few stores the company has already opened have “nicely growing revenue.” The CEO announced that more stores would be opened, including shops in Chicago and in the Mall of America in Minneapolis.