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Michael Dell Was The First To See Surface, Says Ballmer

By - Source: New York Times | B 19 comments

Steve Ballmer and Michael Dell talk all things Windows 8, including Dell's reaction to the Surface tablet.

In a joint interview with the New York Times, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Dell CEO Michael Dell talked about Windows 8, Surface, the task of attracting developers to create apps, and more. They revealed that Michael Dell was actually the first non-Microsoft individual to see the Windows 8 tablet before the company went public with its plans.

Dell said that he was on the way to Lagos when Ballmer showed him the Surface tablet in Chicago. The New York Times asked Ballmer what he thought partners like Dell would feel after learning about Microsoft entering the device industry with its own tablet.

"Of course I would expect -- and one of the reasons it was important for me to see Michael myself -- the initial reaction is: ‘What the heck? This is different.’ Michael’s reaction was very thoughtful," Ballmer said.

"We had a good discussion about what Microsoft’s goals are," Dell added. "As I see it, the prime goal is to ensure the success of Windows 8. We’ve never sold all the PCs in the world. As I’ve understood Steve’s plans here, if Surface helps Windows 8 succeed, that’s going to be good for Windows, good for Dell and good for our customers. We’re just fine with all that."

Later on in the interview, the New York Times said that some of the early reviews have pointed out that the transition from the traditional desktop to the new Modern UI can be a little "jarring". Ballmer was asked if he thought this will be an issue with the new OS.

"Beauty will be in the eye of the user. I’m not confused about this. After about a week, I think you don’t even notice it," he said.

"I think what you’re going to see with Windows 8 and touch, it’s going to be like pulse and touch tone. There’s the old one and the new one, and you’re going to want the new one," Dell added.

To read the complete interview, head over to the New York Times here.

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  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , October 26, 2012 7:29 AM
    "Beauty will be in the eye of the user. I’m not confused about this. After about a week, I think you don’t even notice it," he said."

    My Arse!

    7 months of use and I STILL think Win 8 Metro is FUGLY and I hate it every time I start up my Laptop!

    Nexus 7 for me I am afraid, the wait is over, I want a Tablet and a laptop, and a desktop, and all of them are quite different products for a reason!
  • 6 Hide
    safcmanfr , October 26, 2012 8:45 AM
    After getting used to Win 8, I have no serious issues with it.

    I really want to know what MS future vision is. People are complaining about the metro UI now (for desktops/laptops) do what if touch screen comes the norm for all PCs / mobile devices ? Desktops to be operated by a combi of both touch and traditional M&K.


    At the moment, I am seriously envisioning replacing my desktop next year with a Win 8 tablet (not RT) and keyboard dock - as long as I can get one that has display port output and thunderbolt connection.

    However, that depends, not on MS, but on the external GPU enclosures that allow you to connect a full GPU via thunderbolt to a device. I can seriously see me having a 3 monitor setup, keyboard dock and external GPU sitting on a desk, plugging in my Win 8 tablet (with i5 core for example) and gaming with it.
    It would even work for a serious productivity device. Have the tablet in the dock as a permanent start menu, and flick the programs you wish to use to the screen of your choice (if you have a multi monitor set up), then user the mouse and kb on the 3 screens. This would work for business purposes as well. give all employees a win 8 tablet, then have work areas for the employees to plug their tablet into when they need to use serious horse power or work with several documents at the same time (running VMs, DB management, or just simple copy and paste tasks between multi docs).
  • -2 Hide
    alidan , October 26, 2012 10:31 AM
    moricon"Beauty will be in the eye of the user. I’m not confused about this. After about a week, I think you don’t even notice it," he said."My Arse!7 months of use and I STILL think Win 8 Metro is FUGLY and I hate it every time I start up my Laptop!Nexus 7 for me I am afraid, the wait is over, I want a Tablet and a laptop, and a desktop, and all of them are quite different products for a reason!


    with windows 8 tablet and laptop could be 1, a ultra thin with a swivel screen with wacom penable surface.

    make metro only who when its in tablet mode, and only actavate tablet mode when no programs override it (art and design programs)

    full desktop for when you dont want tablet mode
    full tablet mode when you dont want desktop

    safcmanfrAfter getting used to Win 8, I have no serious issues with it. I really want to know what MS future vision is. People are complaining about the metro UI now (for desktops/laptops) do what if touch screen comes the norm for all PCs / mobile devices ? Desktops to be operated by a combi of both touch and traditional M&K. At the moment, I am seriously envisioning replacing my desktop next year with a Win 8 tablet (not RT) and keyboard dock - as long as I can get one that has display port output and thunderbolt connection. However, that depends, not on MS, but on the external GPU enclosures that allow you to connect a full GPU via thunderbolt to a device. I can seriously see me having a 3 monitor setup, keyboard dock and external GPU sitting on a desk, plugging in my Win 8 tablet (with i5 core for example) and gaming with it. It would even work for a serious productivity device. Have the tablet in the dock as a permanent start menu, and flick the programs you wish to use to the screen of your choice (if you have a multi monitor set up), then user the mouse and kb on the 3 screens. This would work for business purposes as well. give all employees a win 8 tablet, then have work areas for the employees to plug their tablet into when they need to use serious horse power or work with several documents at the same time (running VMs, DB management, or just simple copy and paste tasks between multi docs).


    i dont believe touch will ever work on a traditional desktop setup, even if you make mice with touch in them

    get a 300$+ desktop mount for a monitor, and have a high quality wacom, and i will say that is the future.

    however i cant see touch, as it is now in a tablet, ever working as a desktop feature that is used every day when mouse and keyboard are better, and no one is willing to package a high quality monitor mount with monitors.

    your 1 surface to rule them all... that is interesting, however, i would rather have an ultra thin, keyboard and crap with a swivvle monitor like above. best of both worlds, as i hate the keyboards they have, and even though i don't like laptop keyboards, they are far better than the on cover ones.

    however if i were to go tablet as a 1 to rule them all solution, it would need to have at least 6 usb ports, a card slot in the device, and the ability to have thunderbolt graphics acceleration, and possibly 2-3 independant thunder ports, if i remember right, current thunder specs would bottleneck the gpus by a significant ammount.

    i just thought if this while i was going to the bathroom.

    how about a removeable back for the surface. and have a box that the surface attaches to.
    on the bakc of the surface will be a ball pin connections like intel cpus, where amd uses pins, intel uses balls, why not connect it like that to a box that has a gpu or such in it, and probably a sound card.

    that way you have a portable computer, a work station, and probably VERY few disadvantages to going with it for a gaming prospective.
  • 3 Hide
    safcmanfr , October 26, 2012 11:25 AM
    alidanwith windows 8 tablet and laptop could be 1, a ultra thin with a swivel screen with wacom penable surface.make metro only who when its in tablet mode, and only actavate tablet mode when no programs override it (art and design programs)full desktop for when you dont want tablet modefull tablet mode when you dont want desktopi dont believe touch will ever work on a traditional desktop setup, even if you make mice with touch in themget a 300$+ desktop mount for a monitor, and have a high quality wacom, and i will say that is the future. however i cant see touch, as it is now in a tablet, ever working as a desktop feature that is used every day when mouse and keyboard are better, and no one is willing to package a high quality monitor mount with monitors. your 1 surface to rule them all... that is interesting, however, i would rather have an ultra thin, keyboard and crap with a swivvle monitor like above. best of both worlds, as i hate the keyboards they have, and even though i don't like laptop keyboards, they are far better than the on cover ones. however if i were to go tablet as a 1 to rule them all solution, it would need to have at least 6 usb ports, a card slot in the device, and the ability to have thunderbolt graphics acceleration, and possibly 2-3 independant thunder ports, if i remember right, current thunder specs would bottleneck the gpus by a significant ammount. i just thought if this while i was going to the bathroom. how about a removeable back for the surface. and have a box that the surface attaches to.on the bakc of the surface will be a ball pin connections like intel cpus, where amd uses pins, intel uses balls, why not connect it like that to a box that has a gpu or such in it, and probably a sound card.that way you have a portable computer, a work station, and probably VERY few disadvantages to going with it for a gaming prospective.


    Agreed, the external GPU enclosures would have to improve, but Thunderbolt should be fine for connecting GPUs. I am pretty sure Intel will eventually release a version 2.0 using optical cables not just copper at some point, which would improve the bandwidth again.

    Not something that will be possible tomorrow (replacing gaming machines) but over the next 6 - 18 months? Why not.

  • -2 Hide
    jkflipflop98 , October 26, 2012 11:28 AM
    Has it ever dawned on you Debbie Downers that using a mouse is the same as a touch input? Derp.
  • 0 Hide
    ojas , October 26, 2012 11:48 AM
    Meh i tried windows 8 yesterday at the press conference for the launch...Seems pretty good for touch screens...on the PC however...first impression was just that, "jarring".
  • -6 Hide
    john_4 , October 26, 2012 12:33 PM
    Thats because Dell makes crap just like MS now does.
  • -2 Hide
    john_4 , October 26, 2012 12:34 PM
    moricon"Beauty will be in the eye of the user. I’m not confused about this. After about a week, I think you don’t even notice it," he said."My Arse!7 months of use and I STILL think Win 8 Metro is FUGLY and I hate it every time I start up my Laptop!Nexus 7 for me I am afraid, the wait is over, I want a Tablet and a laptop, and a desktop, and all of them are quite different products for a reason!

    You can fix that Windows infestation problem you have with a distro of Linux.
  • -1 Hide
    soundping , October 26, 2012 12:35 PM
    Windows 7 isn't broke.
  • 5 Hide
    nieur , October 26, 2012 1:10 PM
    all the people who hate Windows 8 seems to be happy with Windows 7(then don't upgrade no one has forced you to do so ). They don't talk what improvements they want in next windows. Constructive criticism is always better than hatred.
  • 1 Hide
    warezme , October 26, 2012 1:18 PM
    Dell sees surface a competitor and refused to sell surface through its chain. I'm not so sure that was a good idea. All Dell has is their revamped convertible and a few revamped XPS thin books and they are all overpriced and pretty ugly.
  • 0 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , October 26, 2012 1:32 PM
    BallmerAfter about a week, I think you don’t even notice it


    I've used it for many months, and I'm still not there. I'm still at a stage where, if my system crashed tomorrow, I'd go back to win7. In contrast I didn't even feel that with vista.

    The single most annoying thing with windows 8 from my point of view isn't even the new interface, it's some of the features you just don't have anymore.

    Like UAC despite being off doesn't run stuff elevated. This means you can't edit the hosts file without having to browse it, and if you need to alter something in virtual store ... well start a cmd session as the system user.

    Basically anything technical that isn't already accounted for with built in features isn't possible anymore. The new driver structure is in contrast a rather small issue.
  • 3 Hide
    DRosencraft , October 26, 2012 3:54 PM
    nieurall the people who hate Windows 8 seems to be happy with Windows 7(then don't upgrade no one has forced you to do so ). They don't talk what improvements they want in next windows. Constructive criticism is always better than hatred.


    That's because people in general are bad at the whole 'vision' thing. It's simply easier to see what someone does, complain about it, and wait for them to somehow fix it. Ever wonder just why there are so many distros of Linux (which is part of the reason by the way that not more people use Linux)? Many of the distros are very similar with only slight tweaks one place or another, and that's because someone complained about the first version, someone made a new one, and someone complained about that one too. Not criticizing individual taste, but it must be realized that it would be all but impossible that with current consumer trends anyone would be happy with any changes to the OS.

    What gets me is that with an audience that supposedly cares so much more about performance behind the scenes, always wanting programs that do more, do it better, and do it faster, all they can seem to care about is the fact one little button has been made into a full screen, and it doesn't look beautiful. These are the same people who criticize Apple constantly for being more about style than substance. I have been asking for a long time now for someone to explain to me what about Win8 makes it harder to use than 7. We get it, you don't like the looks of the UI. What else? It's only for touch? Why? What are you seeing that makes it difficult to use a mouse and keyboard? I wish someone would answer these questions, because I haven't seen it at all.
  • -1 Hide
    briteball , October 26, 2012 4:30 PM
    If Win8 takes off expect there to be massive shortage of Windex at the stores shelves due to really dirty screens
  • -1 Hide
    husker , October 26, 2012 4:59 PM
    nieurall the people who hate Windows 8 seems to be happy with Windows 7(then don't upgrade no one has forced you to do so ). They don't talk what improvements they want in next windows. Constructive criticism is always better than hatred.

    Actually, hatred is very effective.
  • 1 Hide
    twelch82 , October 26, 2012 6:38 PM
    john_4You can fix that Windows infestation problem you have with a distro of Linux.


    If you can get it to work properly. Maybe someday, if doing simple things like installing a new app or driver can be as easy in Linux as it is in Windows, then it will be a viable option.
  • -1 Hide
    ojas , October 27, 2012 4:29 AM
    DRosencraftWhat gets me is that with an audience that supposedly cares so much more about performance behind the scenes, always wanting programs that do more, do it better, and do it faster, all they can seem to care about is the fact one little button has been made into a full screen, and it doesn't look beautiful. These are the same people who criticize Apple constantly for being more about style than substance. I have been asking for a long time now for someone to explain to me what about Win8 makes it harder to use than 7. We get it, you don't like the looks of the UI. What else? It's only for touch? Why? What are you seeing that makes it difficult to use a mouse and keyboard? I wish someone would answer these questions, because I haven't seen it at all.

    True in some ways. Where do i start. See...i don't know if you've gone to press conference. I had an opportunity to, day before.
    I seriously sat through over one hour of marketing BS. They even showed us a stage play, on how easy it is to use Windows 8, all the while promoting Metro.

    You see...it's not really hard with a mouse and keyboard. But...well this was the first time i had used 8. On a tablet you don't expect to see the desktop, so if you have to look at loads of tiles, it's fine. But when you use a mouse and keyboard, it's like you don't want metro in front of you any more.
    I don't know, maybe because it was my first time, but it was like...i was trapped, sort of, with metro in front of me. I wanted to shut it. Which was easy, press the Windows key.

    But after i entered the desktop...my first impulse was to click on "start" to see what programs were in the demo machine. Of course, there wasn't any start button. And i didn't want to go back to metro. I had this odd feeling of helplessness. lol. anyway, my problem with 8 is this:

    Yes, there are improvements under the hood. But are they significant enough for someone on Win 7? Does metro help you do anything faster than Win 7? Are apps really relevant on a desktop/laptop? They're glorified web pages, after all.

    The only reason i think "apps" ever existed is because we needed touch-friendly programs, and these had to be thought of as different from your usual programs, hence the different name.

    And what is the need of touch on a desktop? Motion control, maybe. Voice input, maybe. But touch?

    May even work on a laptop. Sure the screen's sitting on my lap or not too far away so i'd maybe want to, say, flip through pages with my finger. But desktop?

    My problem is that, MS' marketing tries to tell us that metro and windows 8 apps and all this BS is somehow good for the desktop. I just don't see how that's true. Also, the new desktop looks kinda tired and dry. It's almost like someone took the Basic theme from Win 7, made it even more basic, and slapped it on to Win 8 as an after thought.

    You see, i went from 95 to 98 to XP to 7. Each time there was a change in the Windows kernel. This time there is none. Same argument as Win 7 not really being a good idea if you have Vista SP2 + DX11, except this is, in many ways, a step backwards for 1.3 billion people.

    And MS knows this. When someone asked the other day, that what's the cost of upgrading to Win 8, the genius marketing exec said that "win 8 devices will be available from Rs.23,000 to Rs.150,000+, so we have a wide spectrum of devices...bla bla bla". Rs 23,000 is about $430. Then they said that you can upgrade for Rs.700, without saying anything about the June 2nd to Jan 31st condition. Then someone probed them and they came clean. The only thing that's clear to me is that they're keeping the prices low till Jan 31st so that hopefully most people upgrade.

    So...yeah. Also, OEMs seem to have two-finger scrolling messed up on non-touch laptops. It's inverted to what you would feel natural, don't know if that can be fixed/tweaked.

    So yeah...when a company spends so much on marketing, you know the product might not be able to speak for itself. Plus these special offer prices, trying to rush people in to impulse buying. They just need to be able to declare it as a success.

    This was an honest first impression. Based on very little time, yes, but honest.
  • 0 Hide
    alidan , October 27, 2012 4:52 AM
    safcmanfrAgreed, the external GPU enclosures would have to improve, but Thunderbolt should be fine for connecting GPUs. I am pretty sure Intel will eventually release a version 2.0 using optical cables not just copper at some point, which would improve the bandwidth again. Not something that will be possible tomorrow (replacing gaming machines) but over the next 6 - 18 months? Why not.


    even with optical, wansnt thunder bolt base specs less than pciex16 1?
    i may have gotten the copper and optical confused but i loved the idea of an external gpu for a long time, and thing thunderbolt, while nice and a step forward, was still underspeced.
  • 1 Hide
    alextheblue , October 27, 2012 6:33 AM
    moricon"Beauty will be in the eye of the user. I’m not confused about this. After about a week, I think you don’t even notice it," he said."My Arse!7 months of use and I STILL think Win 8 Metro is FUGLY and I hate it every time I start up my Laptop!Nexus 7 for me I am afraid, the wait is over, I want a Tablet and a laptop, and a desktop, and all of them are quite different products for a reason!
    Yeah cause the touch interface on the Nexus 7 is like traditional Windows desktop- oh wait.