Steve Ballmer talks about Microsoft’s epic year whilst sporting two Lumia 920s

The Seattle Times interviewed CEO Steve Ballmer recently and the man behind Microsoft is sounding quite confident about this year’s upcoming launches.

During the interview, Ballmer gave his impression of how momentous this year’s launch line-up will be for Microsoft and he even pulled out two Lumia 920 phones from his pockets. Many have speculated wildly on this interview in relation to Surface pricing, so we thought it was time we looked at what exactly was said…

Ballmer is excellent at staying on message. The interviewer asks him what Microsoft’s plans are in case Windows 8 doesn’t take off. After saying it will do great he goes on to say:

"I'm not paid to have doubts. (Laughs.) I don't have any. It's a fantastic product. ..."

Windows 8 is going to ship on every PC sold from this holiday season onwards. Ballmer cites the predicted sales of PCs to be somewhere in the region of 400 million units in 2013. Whilst he is bullish on the sales of Windows 8 and it driving the market he’s more cautious with his statement about the Surface Tablet:

"We'll have to see whether Surface is a success or not because we haven't shipped any yet. But it certainly has the elements of success.”

Ballmer is clear about how Microsoft sees Surface being positioned in the market--a device suitable as a complete computing experience. He cites the Kindle Fire as an example of a device that isn’t capable of doing homework on, which chimes perfectly with Microsoft’s decision to include a keyboard and office capability on their tablets. The notion of a content-creation device versus a content-consumption one is a message MS will need to be very clear on when they come to launch. When we hear Ballmer compare Surface to a Kindle Fire, it’s clear where MS are likely to concentrate their message.

As for the Surface pricing question, Ballmer had this to say:

“If you look at the bulk of the PC market, it would run between, say, probably $300 to about $700 or $800. That's the sweet spot.”

What can we take from this? In short not much that we don’t already know or that hasn’t already been hinted at. The Surface pricing is likely to be strongly in line with an equivalent iPad with the same amount of memory. The Surface Pro tablets are likely to be priced at around the same as a good Ultrabook. Not much news there unfortunately.

But Ballmer does go on to talk about Microsoft becoming more of a "devices and services company", something that Microsoft started a long ago with the Xbox and the Zune devices (plus peripherals like mice and keyboards). The services that power these devices formed beginnings of what we see now with Windows Phone and the coming Windows 8 Stores, with the Surface tablets they are simply extending the reach of their eco system play.

Speaking on Microsoft’s advertising efforts it’s clear that Microsoft considers Xbox advertising as being a success. That’s an interesting take on their games system, after all, it’s a product that has very little in the way of Microsoft branding and some have said that alone has lead to more success as a result. Ballmer goes on to say that, their IE9 adverts currently doing the rounds are being received very well in terms of “perception, romance”.

Ballmer sounds optimistic about their coming launch line up and we’re glad he has two Lumia 920’s stuffed in his pockets. Like many, we’re hoping that this “epic year” is going to mean deeper penetration of Windows Phone in the marketplace. The benefits of the combined launch should have a halo effect on all the products. 

Source : Seattle Times

Robert Brand
  • Wonder if he'd give me one... Maybe I'll go down to Redmond and roll him. :P
  • hehehe
  • Can't wait for the release of the Surface! Hopefully prices won't be too high
  • +1
  • +
  • +1
  • +1 is google, I'll go with a high five ;) (h5)
  • so sad, guess the emoticons don't work on here. Facepalm....
  • He's not paid to have doubts. What about Vista?
  • If he didn't have doubts prior to vista releasing, then his statement remains true. 
    Actual performance of a product is a different issue. 
  •   Vista, was considered a failure but see how many they sold? RB
  • Vista was acutally a great product AFTER the drviers came out (rushed out the door, good job MS) and SP1. Dont get me wrong, 7 is everything that Vista should of been on release
  • I agree with you here totally.  Bad rap off the bat unforntantely people are horribly misinformed and just assumed it was on the whole horrible.
  • I am running Vista right now. Never have any issues with this machine.
  • People seem to think that a CEO personally has his hands working on products ala Steve Jobs, which absolutely isn't true. A CEO delegates responsibilities and sets the tone for a company. The department/division heads are the people that have ACTUAL control of a product in terms of timelines and scheduling. The previous char of the Windows and Windows Live Division, Jim Allichin left Microsoft after Windows Vista and was replaced by Steven Sinofsky from the Office division. He is the reason why Windows 7 and Windows 8 have rock solid performance and make no attempted to overpromise but underdeliver as many see in Longhorn and what eventually became Windows Vista.
  • Perhaps he didn't have any doubt, and why would he? Vista looked like any other version of Windows. Windows is big and for that reason so was Vista. It might have been a bad product but it was very profitable.
    Vista was also BIll Gates' project, it was released under Ballmer but its succes or failure isn't just Ballmer's. Windows 7 was the first Windows that was developers from scratch and released under Ballmer. It was a big succes. But again, why wouldn't it be? It's Windows.
    This is the first time people can legitimately ask Ballmer whether he has any doubts. Windows isn't Windows anymore. It is a big risk and I applaud Ballmer for taking it. Windows 8 functions very differently from previous versions of Windows. Its UI is basically makes it another product.
    In my opinion it makes it better, although it needs more functionality and the way the desktop is implemented makes it very confusing for people to understand where Windows 8 ends and the backward compatibilty begins.It might very well fail because it is trying to do too much things that don't make sense together. My solution is to simply unpin the Desktop tile and let the real Windows 8 shine through.
  • +1
    BTW I installed the Windows 8 Release Preview this weekend on one of my PCs. Kind of weird to get used to, especially when you go to the Desktop and don't see a Start orb or button, LOL! I think I see your point about "all or nothing" about letting the Windows 8 shine through, because my wife and I are simply going to the Desktop instead of stepping out of our comfort zones and trying the new Start screen. If people get Windows 8 and don't reap the benefits of it, they might as well be using Windows 7, right?
  • I think you would step out of your comfort zone if you had a portable/hybrid device like the surface or one of the others that will be offered instead of a traditional laptop or desktop. In that case, you would use the start screen as your primary interface while visiting the desktop when you need a traditional workplace interface for productivity
  • It will only make sense once you get more Metro apps, and decent tile apps.
    Until then, you will revert to legacy.
    The bit the haters don't understand about its dual personality is that its chicken and egg.
    In order to migrate to Windows 8, your old Desktop apps have to continue to work.
    (MS have always been great at backward compatbility)
    They couldn't drop desktop day 1.
    As more and more metro apps get released, the less reverting to legacy desktop will need to be done.
    Microsoft are DEFINITELY on the right track. They just need to endure childish whining in comments for a while (not suggesting you are Aubreyq, but many do)
  • What Im worried about is will the older/simple/non tech poeple get used to the hidden interfaces? I mean swipe from edges etc to engage features you just have to learn is there.
    Two of my colleges at work who has had the Lumia800 for over 6 months now still comes to me sometimes and ask about features in apps and when I show her she says "Oh right I forgot to swipe to the next page, didnt know it was there". Its minboggling to me that they cant grasp it but I guess sometimes its too much for the "tired" people. :/
  • Vista tanked as it was slower and more resource heavy than the Windows before it.
    (And it took about an hour to start up :) ) Windows 8 is faster than Windows 7, so the Vista effect will not happen with this release trust me.
  • d
  • I disagree with you regarding the unpinning of the desktop unless your speaking of W8RT. I am currently using Windows 8N as a part of my MS Enterprise Agreement on my XPS 15X ultrabook and it runs perfectly. I've joined it to my domain, mapped netowork shares, installed all software used within the organization. This sytem is blazing fast and intuitive; the learning curve is very small if your really think about it. What makes it hard is that people are hesitant to change when they're used to a specific way of doing them. Even without the start menu, I am working very efficiently; I personally think that not having the traditional start menu in equivalent to using hotkeys because now users will be force to use the file explorer for its true intent. and as far as the start screen goes, when you access all apps by right clicking, any productivity app can be pinned to the desktops taskbar. 
  • He said he wasn't paid to have doubts, he never said he didn't have any... ;-)
  • Interesting Xbox didn't have strong Microsoft branding and was successful. Im curious how Windows Phone will be advertised.
  •   Yes, Windows Phone 8 advertising will be super interesting. With Windows Phone 8, Surface and Windows 8 all needing promotion it will be fascinating to see how they tell the story. RB
  • A great product that is poorly marketed will not succeed, and with Windows Phone, Microsoft marketing has been laying a lot of eggs.  This weekend, there as an article about HP possibly introducing a smart phone in my local paper.  It said that HP's phone might be based on the new version of "Windows Mobile" that Microsoft is shipping soon.  Eh?  Windows Mobile is dead.  It's called Windows Phone now.  The fact that people in the media don't know what to call it is poor marketing on the part of Microsoft.  I believe this is the article that my local paper reprinted from:
  • I think it would be pretty tough to market a product that has so little market share and ways behind branding like the iPhone and Android phones 
    You can market a weaker product all you want, nobody is gonig to notice. 
  • You dont market a product based on its market share. Thats what marketing is all about making people know about the product and how better it is to the competition. In fact you should make an even bigger noise for your product to get attention. Iphone is a more mature product that doesn't need huge marketing budget, it sells itself because people know it being the best even when it is not.
  •   Nokia and Microsoft have been pulling off some nice grass roots marketing initiatives with their Into Events, product placements, parties etc. I think this is exactly how it should have been kicked off when Windows Phone launched. We just need to see much much more of it. RB
  • I have an HTC titan and its like someone giving you a nice car but not including the steering or seats.... an example: just tried to edit a mail sent to me and forward it.... Sadly you can't.
  • Don't want NFC ... Don't care about hardware....all I care about is the software Os.
  • Why cant you edit and forward a message on WP? Bottom-left button, select forward, make your edits and send. Very simple. 
  • But you can only forward the message using the email account on which you received it; Outlook on the desktop and of course WM devices did not have this limitation.
  • Am I missing something? I can't edit the text in the forwarded email content... Only add new text before it
  • Sweety, nothing will ever account and compensate for clear cases of PEBCAK. 
  • Simply hold your finger on the message, a forward, copy, edit menu will appear. Its so simply you couldn't figure it out huh!
  • You could not POSSIBLY be more wrong. Marketing is EVERYTHING. Ask a guy who has worked in the IT industry for the last 10 years, as an executive. Just ask any executive you can find.
  • While watching football yesterday there was a commercial for......IE9! WTF-how about some teasers for WP8!
    They did nothing during the Olympics when 10's of millions of people are watching, so far nothing for first 2 weeks of the NFL season when they could be showing off some of the sports apps with Live Tiles that show up to date scores etc...
  • I know! What is UP with all these IE9 commercials when you have Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, and IE10 coming out?
  • "Halo effect".. I see what you did there. ;)
  •   Shame that Xbox>Next isn’t being released this year, then we’d really see the Halo Effect. ;) RB 
  • Lol! True!
  • One of the phone manufacturers should crank out a Halo edition phone.
  •   Well the Lumia 820 with its swappable shells could make that really easy to pull off… RB :)
  • If they did it with Zune (, they can certainly do it again with any phone...
  • I'll wait till I see it... "the proof is in the pudding" ad they say
  • Free wp8 with every Xbox purchased!! Or should it be free Xbox with every wp8 purchase! I like the advertising deals for the pc-Xbox. Good promotion that would get it's own advertising done
  • You know everytime I read an article with Ballmer quotes, I always hear his voice in my head lol He has got one unique voice lol
  • Would Wp8 be announced together with W8? (Oct 26th):
  • Windows phone would probably do better if it had a different name, something that didn't tie it to Microsoft. Just like Android doesn't remind you of Google at all. Tons of people probably don't even know Android is made by Google
  • Microsoft trying to market "Windows" Phone is like trying to push a rock up a hill strewn with boulders and holes you put there yourself. Marketing a "Surface" Phone - now THAT would succeed with ease!
  • Free phone with Surface!! That would be awesome!! I'd be all over that!
  • Agreed.
  • The thing with Zune is.. they shouldn't have given up on it.  I think a Zune packed with the power of Windows 8 would have been more successful than the old Zune.  They now have a decent market that's only gonna get better.
    Apple sells way less Ipods than Iphones... yet they totally refreshed the product line (even though they're very expensive.)  I would complain about the costs but my daughters both have youtube channels with content exclusively shot with their ipods... so don't tell me the handheld device can't be content creation devices.
    Anyway... I'd love to see Microsoft force the content creation issue... and how that'll translate into getting the job done.
  • I hope Microsoft does a "buy a surface and get an Xbox 360" this holiday. they've been doing that every beginning of college semester to entice students.
  • My guess is they might but not the rt version.
  • Correct heading title! Spell check
  • it has to be under $400...
  • Okej, I been wondering something, and let me play devils advocat for a bit. Windows 8 RT is considered a content creation device? How is this possible with next to non desktop support? Metro apps are very primitive, and im wondering if there isn't more creation software on a iPad, I mean, except for a better UI from Windows, The apple products have a established app base, Windows does not. So with this in my mind, im sceptical. People will, at least here in Sweden, see a tablet (read iPad), very little local native support because all Windows apps are still on desktop. If people buy a Windows RT device and then look over the shoulder at a iPad device, this thing might end up with not many happy customers. The most common question from people are, "-where are the app?". People like my neighbour for example likes content in apps, and he ended up with a iPhone because he couldn't play the games his friends and colleges played. Another friend I managed to push in to liking WP stopped using his new Lumia 800 device after 3 days. He have some (like many others over here) some apps he needed and they where nowhere to be found. His little kid got a LG Optimus 7, and he's almost tormented to bring his device to school because all his friends play games and uses apps he don't have. Now, add that the Lumia 800 came with no internet sharing (a standard over here), bad audio, troubled battery and crappy camera and I don't dare to speak about WP he clearly stated that he will not be getting any WP devices anytime soon. He really liked the UI, but what did that help when he missed how content and clearly got a bad expression? Based on my tips and enthusiasm to him, he recommended a friend to buy a Lumia 900, and she came almost crying back with faults of the device, but also how all the apps she used on here Android where nowhere to be seen. I hear this app story over, and over, and over again. There might not need to be quantity, but there sure is a lot still missing, and all the new Lumia 800 users that was disappointed is gonna be bad press. If you live in USA, you are getting a different experience on Windows Phone then the rest of the world, and that needs to end permanently with Windows 8 if Microsoft intend to sell Win RT outside there home turf. Say what you will about apple, but there managed a very similar experience throughout the world. I hope all the new Windows product does well, but as it currently stand, if Windows 8 RT fail, it might affect Windows 8, and there is a risk of a domino effect. So, Windows 8 RT, plz bring content with lots of apps or im no so sure anymore about the success of Metro......
  • I still question how Windows 8 is going to do.... Microsoft's bread and butter for Windows is not the home user, it's the corporate customers. I dont see any major company going to Windows 8 because of the learning curve. The training alone will cost millions to comanies.
    I have the RTM and have been using it, as you need a learning curve for it, I am not inpressed so far. Not sure if I really like it so far. Maybe it's just the keyboard/mouse vs a touch screen but, i really need to load it up with apps and see how well it goes.
    Windows Phone 8 I really look forward to tho
  • There's not much of a learning curve, when I first loaded it and saw the lock screen, I wonders for a second, "How do I sign in"? Press a key, saw the screen jump, and immediately pressed the escape key.....of this allowed me to see the login screen. Once logged in, I saw the start screen, wondered what do I do next, select a tile left click, not much happped, right clicked, properties menu appeared, once I saw that, I knew instantly what to do (all of the option were there, make smaller, make larger, pin to taskbar, pin to start screen, remove from start screen). Those properties told me where the application would be. I move my mouse around the screen and items appeared that were self explanatory. I did all of this in less than 10 minutes. Just an FYI, I am an Enterprise Agreement holder with MS so I currently have Windows 8N installed on my laptop and when installing it, it had a short how to intro screens.
  • Sorry, but, am a Windows system administrator... and I did desktop support. A lot of end users will need support for it. Not cracking on people but, in corporate america, people just want to do their job and get out. They hate change and will fight it, needing training . This will cost companies millions in training.
    I have MSDN access, so I also am running final RTM bits and I plus many others (read any tech mags about win 8??) are saying the same thing.
    Windows 8 will be a hit or a total failure, we'll all know in about 6-8 months
  • I think it will be a flop on the desktop nut a success on the phone and surface. It's setup for touch screens. (I think) if you had a touch screen desktop now that's another story.
  •   I agree with your first point, Windows 8 is a desktop disaster, I use Windows 8 on my laptop, I use Windows 7 for my desktop/big screen computing experience. The Start screen of Windows 8 popping up on my desktop monitor is headache inducing. Perhaps they will do more in the next version to sweeten the deal, at this juncture there is no compelling reason to switch for desktop bound power users. Sorry but Windows 8 is for tablets and laptops with touch. Its designed for the small screen. RB
  •   Business is unlikely to adopt Windows 8 unless its Tablets or convertibles. Nobody is expecting business to adopt Windows 8, they have only just got Windows 7. RB
  •   I see Windows 8 tablets gaining a foothold at the expense of iPads in the corporate world. I don’t see any reason at all why business would need to replace a Windows 7 desktop or upgrade laptop users. Whilst business is Microsoft’s biggest money maker, the consumer market is a much bigger piece of the pie. Look at Apple, think about how much they make..from consumer. With a overall move to a more casual approach to bring your own devices, Microsoft need to get consumers interested in taking MS products into work and most of all demanding them again. Surface and Windows 8 is exactly that play. RB
  • I think they should do an advert like Apple did with the PC vs Mac commercials, and show that with Windows Phone you don't need to dive into the app like you do on iPhone and Android phones, thanks to its live tile feature, and to show how fast and easy the phone is to use. Oh and pray that apple don't sue them for the advert . This is what Microsoft needs to show so that people out there know what kind of power these phones really have compared to the competition.
  • There was a rumor earlier that the Surface RT would sell for $199. That doesn't sound likely based on what Ballmer is saying here.
  • I thinks a lot of people are forgetting the true nature of windows 8......"Go mobile all the way" is what I think MS is trying to accomplish here and at the same time minimize the number of devices one needs to purchase to do so. If you truly go mobil in the enterprise, Windows 8 Pro surface or tablet is the way to go. With it, you don't need a desktop/laptop any more because you will dock the unit while at work using the desktop tile, once you're off work, use the start screen and swipe gestures.
  • Microsoft should just sub-contract their marketing efforts to Nokia.
  •   I really do not think the answer to Microsoft’s advertising problems is to give it all to Nokia. If we look at how Nokia have advertised their Phones the message is that its Nokia, not Microsoft. Microsoft need to better control their own overall message. They need to have their own in house advertising team to co-ordinate their efforts properly. RB
  • How come W8 and WP8 don't use the same tiles?
  •   Xbox, Windows 8 and Windows Phone all use different takes on the metro design language, the style is tailored for each device experience. RB
  • I like Microsoft. But the name isn't cool. Xbox is a success not just because it's good hardware, has great titles, and accessories, its gotta a cool name. That really makes a difference.
  •   Yeah, there are many many folks who will agree with you on that one.RB
  • When I read all your comments it just highlights the complexity of creating and putting an operating system out to market. I don't like to speculate much so let's wait...
  •   Microsoft is doing something quite brave with this release. There will be pain but overall the OS has excellent underpinnings. How well it does is anyone’s guess right now. I’d be very surprised if Surface isn’t a success but have a feeling that will all depend on how well Microsoft markets and distributes the product outside the US. Anyone seen a Surface ad anywhere but the US yet? Think about it… RB
  • Senior rb you sound very skeptical :(