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Ballmer: We're Not Leaving Any Space Uncovered to Apple

By - Source: CRN | B 30 comments

Ballmer is making it clear that Apple needs to gear up for tablet war. Get 'em, tiger.

Despite possibly ruffling the feathers of several hardware partners, Microsoft is intent on its quest to dethrone Apple as King of Tablets with the release of its own magical weapon: the Windows 8-powered Surface tablet. Leading the assault is none other than Microsoft's CEO, Steve Ballmer, who told CRN in an exclusive interview on Monday that his company will leave no "stone unturned" in regards to innovation.

"We are trying to make absolutely clear we are not going to leave any space uncovered to Apple," Ballmer said in a 30-minute interview after addressing around 16,000 partners at the company's annual Worldwide Partner Conference in Toronto. "We are not. No space uncovered that is Apple’s."

He went on to say that Microsoft, which is producing its own Windows 8 tablet, has advantages in productivity, and in terms of enterprise management, and manageability. The company also has advantages in terms of when end-users plug into server infrastructure in the enterprise, he said.

"We are not going to let any piece of this [go uncontested to Apple]," he said. "Not the consumer cloud. Not hardware software innovation. We are not leaving any of that to Apple by itself. Not going to happen. Not on our watch. We do feel empowered to innovate everywhere and bring our partners with us. We are just not going to leave any -- what’s the expression people like to use -- we’re not going to leave any stone unturned, so to speak, as we pursue that."

With the company making its own tablet, there has been an assumption that Microsoft may produce its own Windows Phone 8-based smartphone as well to directly compete with Apple's iPhone. When asked about such a device, Ballmer said Microsoft is currently working really hard on the Surface tablet. That's the focus, he said. That's the core.

"Look, we’ll see what happens," he said. "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."

Still, Microsoft has "good partners" with HP, Dell, Lenovo and others, yet that didn't stop Microsoft from producing its own branded tablet. A branded Microsoft smartphone doesn't seem unlikely -- the company may merely need to focus on one branded product at a time. As Ballmer stated, Microsoft needs to "put one foot in front of the other."

During the interview, Ballmer was also asked if hardware partners will be able to sell Surface devices. As it stands now, they'll only be available through Microsoft.com and Microsoft retail stores.

"If a partner says, ‘Hey look I want to sell some of these things. I want to put them in solutions,’ they can order some off Microsoft.com and sell them," he said. "There is nothing that gets in the way of that. But, we have not set up what I would call industrial distribution as sort of a first element. We may get there. But, if a partner wants to order some and put them in a solution with the customer, we’ll be excited to see that happen."

Microsoft plans to release two Surface tablets: one featuring an x86-based chip sporting Windows 8 Pro, and one packing an ARM-based chip with Windows RT. Apple, on the other hand, only offers ARM-based tablets.

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  • 24 Hide
    ravewulf , July 10, 2012 8:30 PM
    Ballmer has now confirmed what we have long observed. They are more interested in chasing Apple than concentrating on what they do well. (normal Windows with Start Menu and Aero UI vs Metro and "Apps" etc)
  • 21 Hide
    Onus , July 10, 2012 8:10 PM
    The first thing that came to mind is that this may be Ballmer's last best chance to save his reputation. This could be huge...if it works. Otherwise, it becomes just another Ballmer failure.
    Sadly, the next thing that came to mind is that you can bet Apple is already polishing its lawyers to stifle anywhere they can.
  • 20 Hide
    jhansonxi , July 10, 2012 8:28 PM
    They'll break Apple's and Google's control over the market just like they did with Bing, Kin, WP7, and Zune. Oh wait...
Other Comments
  • 21 Hide
    Onus , July 10, 2012 8:10 PM
    The first thing that came to mind is that this may be Ballmer's last best chance to save his reputation. This could be huge...if it works. Otherwise, it becomes just another Ballmer failure.
    Sadly, the next thing that came to mind is that you can bet Apple is already polishing its lawyers to stifle anywhere they can.
  • 19 Hide
    tapnick , July 10, 2012 8:14 PM
    I love the sound of competition
  • 20 Hide
    jhansonxi , July 10, 2012 8:28 PM
    They'll break Apple's and Google's control over the market just like they did with Bing, Kin, WP7, and Zune. Oh wait...
  • 24 Hide
    ravewulf , July 10, 2012 8:30 PM
    Ballmer has now confirmed what we have long observed. They are more interested in chasing Apple than concentrating on what they do well. (normal Windows with Start Menu and Aero UI vs Metro and "Apps" etc)
  • 8 Hide
    leongrado , July 10, 2012 8:34 PM
    Good luck to all. May the best tablet win. This probably won't be the case but w/e. Hopefully this means better products for the consumer.
  • 0 Hide
    acadia11 , July 10, 2012 8:48 PM
    Make a better looking device and they might have a shot, right now apple makes the highest quality phone and tablet, it may not have latest specs but it feels far classier than the other plasticky junk on the market.
  • 3 Hide
    killerclick , July 10, 2012 8:48 PM
    Microsoft just doesn't get. A tablet is nothing like a PC and consumers don't want it to be anything like a PC. That's why Tablet PC failed and that's why Surface Pro will fail. It will be too expensive, too heavy and too thick. The fact that it can run x86 applications means what, exactly? Is anybody going to drop $700 for Photoshop so they can run it on a 10" screen on a crippled ULV processor? That keyboard is nice in theory, but pointless, since you can't use that kickstand properly on your lap, so you need furniture to use the physical keyboard. That's some portability.

    Surface RT will fail because it has nothing on Android tablets or the iPad. It will only have 1366x768, Tegra 3 (which will be almost a year old when RT is released), it will have relatively few apps to begin with, but it will be as expensive as the iPad and top-of-the-line Android tablets. It's a brand new software ecosystem, and a user interface that failed to materialize phone sales in Windows Phone 7 (and probably won't in WP8 either).
  • 9 Hide
    vmem , July 10, 2012 9:11 PM
    killerclickMicrosoft just doesn't get. A tablet is nothing like a PC and consumers don't want it to be anything like a PC. That's why Tablet PC failed and that's why Surface Pro will fail. It will be too expensive, too heavy and too thick. The fact that it can run x86 applications means what, exactly? Is anybody going to drop $700 for Photoshop so they can run it on a 10" screen on a crippled ULV processor? That keyboard is nice in theory, but pointless, since you can't use that kickstand properly on your lap, so you need furniture to use the physical keyboard. That's some portability.Surface RT will fail because it has nothing on Android tablets or the iPad. It will only have 1366x768, Tegra 3 (which will be almost a year old when RT is released), it will have relatively few apps to begin with, but it will be as expensive as the iPad and top-of-the-line Android tablets. It's a brand new software ecosystem, and a user interface that failed to materialize phone sales in Windows Phone 7 (and probably won't in WP8 either).


    I'm actually thinking about buying the x86 Surface haha. I need a portable "ultrabook" essentially to run some fairly light productivity tasks, and I'd like that same ultrabook to function like an e-reader/tablet for reading/annotating journal articles etc. I think the surface will go far in the scientific and medical world
  • 7 Hide
    Kryan , July 10, 2012 9:39 PM
    leongradoGood luck to all. May the best tablet win. This probably won't be the case but w/e. Hopefully this means better products for the consumer.


    CHEAPER prices for the consumer. that's all I care about. And if I can avoid an overpriced apple device, I will.
  • -3 Hide
    back_by_demand , July 10, 2012 9:50 PM
    lradunovic77Good look to them with Windows 8. Windows 8 has nothing productive about it compared to Windows 7. Microsoft Surface is consumer product therefore good luck competing Apple in that area.

    In my company the head of Group Security used an iPad, tried to use it for business purposes, but in the end as he couldn't use Exchange and a few other Enterprise class tools it went back into gold stock.
    ...
    Apple can't compete against Microsoft in that regard even against existing software that is 10 years old, Windows 8 will still allow all the good business honey to drip through and short of deliberately stealing Microsofts enterprise class IP they will never get into that part of the world
    ...
    Ripping off the Beatles or Creative is one thing, Microsoft is one kid who won't stand there and let you steal his lunch money, he'll tear your f**king arm off and beat you to death with the wet end
  • 6 Hide
    belardo , July 10, 2012 9:57 PM
    Is this character speaking normal? Some of the garbage this monkey says:
    "We are trying to make absolutely clear we are not going to leave any space uncovered to Apple," "Not hardware software innovation." "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."

    His ideas are all over the place. "see IF something happens"?! "Trying"? Its like they are throwing darts at a wall and see what sticks. Yeah, they are hitting Apple in all markets.
    ZUNE = FAIL
    WP6 = FAIL
    WP7 = FAILING
    Tablets = 11 Years of FAIL (okay, fine in limited markets)
    Streaming device = none (AppleTV is doing okay)
    Win8 = Most likely to fail

    Quote:
    they'll only be available through Microsoft.com and Microsoft retail stores


    Wow... so, the ONLY way to buy these AWESOME devices is from MS online or at a store that doesn't exists. okay, there are 25~30 stores in the world. (Apple has 364 world wide). Wow, they pretty much copied the Apple store style... how original.

    Okay, so I have to drive about 300miles to actually see the APPLE killer device (that is not out yet) to so see if its worth buying... Because the MS Tablet is SOOO damn cool, its only available from Microsoft.

    Meanwhile, you can buy a iPads and iPhones (some other Android tablets & phones) at: Best buy, Frys and pretty much any retail shop INCLUDING Walmart!

    Wow, I feel the energy!
  • 5 Hide
    Anonymous , July 10, 2012 10:01 PM
    This has FAIL written all over it!

    I see ballmer leaving after this fiasco!
  • 2 Hide
    bison88 , July 10, 2012 10:05 PM
    moriconThis has FAIL written all over it!I see ballmer leaving after this fiasco!



    Some would argue he should have left a long time ago or at least stepped to the side with a less important role. It's a shame Bill will never return, right now it seems like MSFT is struggling with an identity in this modern environment from all fronts. Still making bookoo bucks so it's probably allowing MSFT to continue to make these mistakes even if it's ultimately holding them back.
  • 6 Hide
    snowzsan , July 10, 2012 10:17 PM
    The Windows Phones were failures, that I'll admit. But working for a cellphone company in the U.S I can say the Lumia 710 is one of the most popular phones, and the trade-in offers usually are people trading in their old iPhones. I don't believe that has anything to do with fanboy-ism or anything like that, but people genuinely enjoy their Lumia phones. So the concept is there, it's just hard for it to hang on in a market that has been run by the iPhone for so long. Android managed to pull it off because Google had a pretty clear reputation prior to Android's launch. Microsoft on the other hand suffers from negative feedback before the product even releases. Sometimes for good reason, I know. But now a days, mostly fanboy-ism.

    Despite that, I'll be interested to see how the surface manages. I've steered clear of the tablet market, but I'm guilty of purchasing a few netbooks here and there for the pure mobility of them. So maybe I'll take this chance to give them a try in an environment I'm familiar with; Windows.

    Who knows. A lot of people don't want to leave Windows because of it's wide spread adaptation and most of us grew up with it. Maybe this will give the rest of us a reason to 'give it a go!'

    I'll purchase one, just to see.
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , July 10, 2012 10:27 PM
    I am working at Microsoft but I had never seen or touched the Surface until recently. I don't have a Windows phone. I do have an XBox. I am definitely, absolutely buying Surface Pro for myself and the ARM version for my wife and kids (as a bookreader and educational/gaming device).

    It will all depend on the price, which I have no clue about. I just hope they give us employees some discount, lol.
  • 1 Hide
    robochump , July 10, 2012 10:48 PM
    MS been in the position of playing catch up for a long time now. MS is not as innovative in the consumer electronics segment as Apple, Google, and Samsung. Mainly because it was focused on software (XBox aside) and relied on partners to develop hardware and again nothing innovative there. Luckily for MS they have the money to try and compete after other companies release innovative hardware.

    Aside from Kinect I dont recall MS releasing anything innovative. Sure MS tablet will most likely compete but it is not innovative because it is a late comer to a highly dominated tablet market. Time will tell the out come. Until then, innovative companies like Apple will hopefully thrive so us consumers will have great products to enjoy! *Here comes the negative votes from Apple hipster haters :) 
  • 4 Hide
    royale_aus , July 10, 2012 10:52 PM
    It's hardly innovation when they're playing catch up.
  • 1 Hide
    back_by_demand , July 10, 2012 11:01 PM
    royale_ausIt's hardly innovation when they're playing catch up.

    Apple have been saying the same about OSX vs Windows for years, they have been playing catchup in marketshare, are you saying there is no innovation in OSX?
  • 5 Hide
    MarioJP , July 10, 2012 11:13 PM
    its amazing how people always says "always playing catchup" on numerous tech articles when one company is not meeting the consumer demands. What different does that make when both companies are making money. You people make it sound like there is no room for re adjusting or a "new player" to try to grab that piece of the pie. Unbelievable!!.
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