At a company shareholder meeting this morning, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was faced with a tough question from a shareholder: what is Microsoft going to do in the 'post PC era?' Ballmer grinned. “We are in the Windows era – we were, we are, and we always will be," he replied, according to Business Insider.
Ballmer said that Microsoft is working to bring Windows to every conceivable form factor. “Through the power of Windows, the PC will be a tablet machine, will be a reading machine, will be a note-taking machine.” Windows will power everything from phones to 'room sized displays,” he said. The mention of a note-taking machine is interesting, since that's exactly what the Courier project that Microsoft killed was.
This isn't exactly news – Microsoft has been using Windows in all kinds of form factors for a years now – but it shows that the company is still committed to the strategy. Windows 8 brings them even closer to the 'one OS, every device' strategy, since it will power everything from tablets to servers.
Ballmer said that Windows would be powering phones, too, presumably referring to Windows Phone 7 which, although generally thought of as a different OS, uses the Windows CE kernel. Apple and Google, on the other hand, power their devices with several different OSes.
The question is whether or not this strategy is still viable in the face of the competition. Microsoft has already fallen behind its competitors in the tablet space, since the current Windows GUI isn't built with touchscreens in mind. While Windows 8 seeks to remedy this, it will have a lot of catching up to do, with both consumers and developers.
Windows Phone 7, meanwhile, has yet to make much of a dent in the Android dominated mobile market, even though it has received positive reviews. We'll see over the coming year whether or not Windows on everything can really work, with Windows 8 and the next version of Windows Phone, code named Apollo, due out sometime next year.