Ballmer Talks Surface Tablet Availability, The Future Of Smartphones And The War With Apple

Steve Ballmer, CEO of a little company called Microsoft, isn't one to mince words. He's loud, he's excitable and he's got a lot to say. Today, he's declaring war on Apple, talking about where we might be able to buy the Microsoft Surface tablet when it comes out and if we'll ever see a Surface smartphone.

In a conversation with CRN after the Worldwide Partner Conference this week, Ballmer was firing on all cylinders.

On Surface Availability...

Will you be able to walk into JB Hi-Fi or Harvey Norman come October to pick up a Surface tablet? Only if those retailers have actually bothered to buy them online first, according to Ballmer.

He said that they're just trying to put "one foot in front of the other" and get it to market right now. What that means is that it's initially set to be available from only if it even comes to Australia at launch.

He added that if partners are really keen to sell it, they can buy a bunch from the online store and resell them. Right.

On The Surface Smartphone...

The Surface certainly has people excited, but will we see a Surface smartphone? Not right now.

Ballmer chose these words very carefully:

Right now we are working real hard on the Surface. That’s the focus. That’s our core. Look, we’ll see what happens. We have good partners with Nokia, HDC in the phone space. I love what we've got going on with the Surface. We are going to focus on Surface and our other Windows 8 Tablet partners and see if we can go make something happen.

On The War With Apple...

People have been comparing the two brands to each other for years. The two companies have even scuffled in a few different arenas -- like advertising -- over the last few years, but this is the first time in memory that one of the heads of the two giants have outwardly mentioned that they're going after the other.

Ballmer said that Microsoft won't be leaving "any space uncovered to Apple" going forward. That means consumer as well as enterprise, too.

Whether the company can succeed though is another thing entirely. Talk is cheap, after all. [CRN]

Image: Steve Ballmer image by Microsoft Sweden, CC2.0



    I couldn't hear anything he had to say as my BS filter was engaged!

      Please change name to Voice of prejudice.

        clearly the 'Voice of Reason' is not capable of understanding what you are saying here mate.

        all you need to do is chuck a shiny object down the road and watch him run after it.

          Normal people like shiny objects..

    Microsoft look as if they have great solid products with Surface, Windows 8 RT, Windows 8 and WP8. If they do things right I think they will have much success with Windows 8. Also would be great to have a third competitor in the mobile OS space.

      Where are these products that you claim are so solid?
      For decades MS have littered the media with broken promises of revolutionary products and vaporware that never ever materialized.
      Every time a competitor shipped a product that became a threat to their dominance there would be MS promising something twice as good to stymie sales and whip the gullible into a frenzy.
      I'm not holding my breath.

    OK if it was anyone OTHER than Ballmer making this announcement it would almost be credible.. but c'mon this guy is a laughing stock that has brought nothing but failure to MS. If he is positive they are going to win the battle with Apple that is a sure sign that they've lost the war without even making it to the battle field.

    Windows Vista anyone? No? didn't think so ... nuff said

      Haters - always with the Vista. And the Kin. And whatever else.

      Don't pretend you've never f*cked up anything in your life. You are not perfect. And no - it's not "nuff said", Bill Gates (if that is your real name).

      Let Microsoft fail. With each failure they'll hopefully move forward having learned a valuable, often costly lesson. And although Ballmer is a big joke, there are interviews with him where he proves he at least understands where Microsoft are in the scheme of things (e.g. he openly admits Microsoft is a startup in the search market, freely acknowledging that Google are the market leader with deeper pockets than Microsoft).

      I like that he is so brazen and confrontational. Most CEO's are too calculated and robotic.

      Nothing but failure?
      - Xbox 360 units sold: 67.2 million as of April 19, 2012
      - 18 million units of the Kinect sensor had been shipped by January 2012
      - Having sold 8 million units in its first 60 days on the market, Kinect has claimed the Guinness World Record of being the "fastest selling consumer electronics device"
      - As of January 19, 2012, over 525 million copies of Windows 7 have been sold

      Yep, nothing but failure.

    Looking forward to the Surface Pro, but I'll be waiting to see how Microsoft handle the upgrade options between WP7 handsets and WP8 handsets before they get my money in a new ecosystem. No backup and restore feature in 7.8 = Apple will definitely be considered.

      Pretty sure it has been announced that you wont be able to update your WP7 handset to WP8. That pretty well makes sure that all WP7 handsets on the market now are effectively obsolete. Also, if I were an app developer I sure as eggs wouldn't be wasting time on WP7 apps, which means that the existing WP7 market is going to suffer even more.

        Yeah, because 100,000 apps is nothing, right? How many software applications are available for OS X? I'm thinking no-one has nay idea and for very good reason - it is completely and utterly besides the point. The only reason anyone knows for smartphones is because they are closed ecosystems and you can only buy them from one place. The WP7 Marketplace was perfectly fine with 10,000 apps, now its actually too hard to find anything.

        IIRC WP8 will have full BC with WP7 apps. There are other reasons not to develop for WP7 of course, but WP8 is not one of them.

    Good of him to slot partners and resellers into the same space as consumers now. Seen so many companies ditch their reseller channel and try do everything in their own, but fall in their face because they lose touch with the consumers. Only works for simple products that people don't want/need after sales support on, it integration into enterprise projects.

    I wonder how successful Xbox would be if you couldn't buy one at your local games shop, together with games, and talk to the person there about the games.

      Hardly likely when Windows is sending them every keystroke. MS probably know more about their customers than anyone else in history.

        It's ok, my keyboard wears a tinfoil hat.

    This comment has been deemed inappropriate and has been deleted.

      Added plenty of value.

    I use a PC at work powered by some Microsoft crap, spend half the day fighting with it. Can't wait to get home to my iMac 27" where I just USE it , no shit.
    Ballmer, there never was a battle, let alone a war. Just a little old lady called MS with a vacuum cleaner picking up the crumbs from the Apple pie, and so it goes....

    I don't understand all the comments saying Ballmer is a terrible CEO... Look at the products... The unification that has been building for the last few years has exploded together... Now we just have to see if the trend to apple can slow as a result..

    I think Ballmer has done an amazing job, clearly he has had a vision... You cant expect it was going to be delivered overnight.

    Hope this thing is avaliable in Australia... I'll buy it launch day!

    It's looking like I'll have to wait till Christmas to get my Surface (Holidaying in the USA) as it's not looking good for us Aussies getting it any time soon
    I hope that Windows Phone 8 comes out in Oz in time for that same holiday so I can take that with me :)

    Can I haz Windows 8 on my Zune?

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