Steve Ballmer: Surface not made to compete with other PC makers

With the reveal that Windows 8 will be generally available on October 26th, more and more attention will be given to Microsoft to see if its big gamble with Windows 8, and its Surface tablet, will be successful. Now a new interview with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer gives some more insights into how he sees the company going forward.

Ballmer says he "loves" what the company is doing with Windows 8, saying, "We’re reimagining our number one product. That’s cool. But it’s not for the fainthearted. It takes a certain boldness and a certain persistence."

The announcement of the Surface tablet has been seen by some as a direct shot against PC hardware makers but Ballmer doesn't see it that way. He states, "With Surface we wanted to make sure that no stone is left unturned, in terms of really showing Windows 8 in its most innovative form. With Windows 8 you can get a tablet and a PC in a single package, and I think Surface probably proves that as well as anything."

He added that Microsoft's goal is not to compete with the many companies that make Windows-based desktops, notebooks and tablets. Ballmer said, "The bulk of our Windows volume is going to come from our hardware partners."

Ballmer also commented on a recent Vanity Fair article, which was highly critical of Microsoft's recent management practices, calling it a "lost decade" for the company. Ballmer said:

Ultimately progress is measured through the eyes of our users. We have 1.3 billion people using PCs today. There was a time in the 1990s when we were sure there’d never be 100 million PCs sold a year. This year alone there will be 375 million sold. So, is it a lost decade?

Ballmer also says that he misses having Microsoft chairman Bill Gates around on a day to day basis. Ballmer says that Gates comes in to the Microsoft offices one or two days a month " ... just to brainstorm with groups, talk about their plans and ideas for ­Office and so on."

Source: Forbes.com

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22 Comments

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For the lunes who keep saying Microsoft is competing with the OEM's simply don't get it. Just liek Google making a tablet or phone.

Here is where you all don't get it. Car companies partner up and make cars and trucks all the time, and yes they still compete against each other. But the partnerships allow for more volume to happen with a good idea.

Microosft needs the OEMs becuase theyare the ons who will sell as Ballmer states, thebiggest bulk of the Windows PC's. Microsoft making a tablet, isn't trying to cpmpete on a solid 1 to 1 basis. They simply made a device that meets their vision and they want the partners to do the same.

All you trolls who keep saing MS is competing need to remember this. When Gates first vision talets, Microsoft did leave the concept to the OEM's make in hardware. Look what they did. They created a failed nightmare. Sure many did by the reversible laptops, butthey are nothing liek the single form factor devices Gates talked about.

This time with Microsoft already behind in the mobile space, they simply can't afford for it to be wrong this time. As you all can see Windows 7 tablets havent done all that well. Likely because they arent runnin an OS designed for touch. Now MS has changed that with Windows 8 and they made a device to run it to show everyone what Windows 8 can do.

Microsoft is not planning to sell any more than a few million toget the folks interested. You have to understand this, Windows has NEVER been touch friendly. Critics are already saying Wndows 8 just isnt going to work and they arent going to sell that many. Microsoft makign a device to showcase, shows their devotion toWindows 8 and wanting to make sure it is a sucess. Not like the tablet debackle and Vista debackle. Again MS left Vista to be properly support by hardware vendors and theyfailed to do so. If vendors dont properly support Windows, Windows can' succeed.

Microsft as a single company could not build enough hardware to sell to 1.3billion people, they need the OEM's

What you lunes need tolook at is Microsoft is actually trying to help the OEM's by pushing them to design better hardware to run Windows. This is why Microsoft pushed the phone makers to use specified hardware in the phones if they want to put Windows on it. It insures a good experience based on in-house testing by the OSmaker. We seen how horrible Windows Mobile devices were overall. What good is a new OS on crappy hardware?

Youall realy need to get a clue and grow some common sense,vs spewing a bunch of off the top of your skull non-sense that doesn't help anyone.

Heh, with the same OS and just a leaner and clever design? You keep saying that, Ballmer. That MS don't want to admit this, but realize it's a logical issue enough to comment on it, AND that OEM's do not share their view will result in -- well... I'll go get my popcorn.

Edited by Northgrove, Jul 19 2012, 10:00am :

Who cares if they were competing with the OEM's? They started whining and moaning because Microsoft showed them how to make a tablet.

McKay said,
Who cares if they were competing with the OEM's? They started whining and moaning because Microsoft showed them how to make a tablet.

Exactly. And so what if they get mad? Where would OEMs go? Linux? Yeah, that went really well in the past.

Drossel said,

Exactly. And so what if they get mad? Where would OEMs go? Linux? Yeah, that went really well in the past.


For touch interfaces like Surface's? Android.

Northgrove said,

For touch interfaces like Surface's? Android.

The problem is that the only Android tablet even remotely like Surface could also run WindowsRT (ASUS Eee Transformer Prime and derivatives). Then that puts both operating systems on a semi-equal footing - or are you saying that price (not software or features of the operating systems themselves) is what matters, given similar (or even identical) hardware otherwise?

They are competing but won't admit to so the OEMs dont get mad. Obviously the OEMs weren't doing a good job and today, with the iPad, if the OEMs weren't going to show Win8 in the best light Microsoft had to do the job themselves! Good for Microsoft too! They should compete! We need better completion even with so many OEMs.

thatguyandrew1992 said,
They are competing but won't admit to so the OEMs dont get mad.
that's right. However, OEM's look through this and anyone who don't will realize after the sales results start trickling in. I think the tear will happen.

myxomatosis said,
"We're launching a tablet, but we don't really want to sell it"

Lol pretty much. Microsoft is clearly competing with all their other hardware makers.

Maybe the OEM's were not showing prototypes that met the MS vision. They had to do it in order to steer the devices on this direction.

Then again, maybe this is MS's version of the Nexus.

Rudy said,
Other PC makers are also in the tablet market....so yeah you're competing with them

They are competing with them... but the Surface wasn't made to compete with them. Rather, they just want to spur innovation and build excitement for Windows 8.

They have a vision. They are just trying to steer the ship in that direction.

rfirth said,

They are competing with them... but the Surface wasn't made to compete with them. Rather, they just want to spur innovation and build excitement for Windows 8.

They have a vision. They are just trying to steer the ship in that direction.

It's a tablet, hardly "innovation" at this point

Rudy said,
Other PC makers are also in the tablet market....so yeah you're competing with them

Not really, it's a reference platform.

Rudy said,
It's a tablet, hardly "innovation" at this point

It's more than just a tablet. It's the attention to detail. It's the magnesium frame, perimeter cooling, unobtrusive kickstand, and smart covers that are actually smart and do something.

Rudy said,
It's a tablet, hardly "innovation" at this point
It's the first tablet that's not just another blown up smartphone. Nor is it just a shrunken down PC like the earlier slates. It's what a proper tablet should always have been. The best of both worlds. Plus the touch cover is like the innovation of the century. Flip, now you have a full fledged laptop. Flip, now you have a beautifully crafted tablet.

rfirth said,

It's more than just a tablet. It's the attention to detail. It's the magnesium frame, perimeter cooling, unobtrusive kickstand, and smart covers that are actually smart and do something.

None of that is innovation. Just like nothing about the iPad was innovation. It's called 'refinement and development' ... Apple do that extremely well. Microsoft may do ... we'll see.

Rudy said,
It's a tablet, hardly "innovation" at this point

While I am not excited by the Surface, I do find there are innovations in it. And, in all honesty, I think they designed it to spur OEMs to outdo them. I think its true purpose is not to succeed in the market so much as to cause other companies to step things up and make it look like less than what they can do.