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Posted at 04:59 PM ET, 09/14/2011

Microsoft's Ballmer: Windows 8 has seen 500,000 downloads

Microsoft Windows president Steven Sinofsky introduces the new tablet running a test version of the company’s touch-enabled Windows 8 at the Build conference on Tuesday. (ALEX GALLARDO - REUTERS)
Attendees of Microsoft’s BUILD developer conference got a surprise Wednesday during a talk on cloud servers. Company chief executive Steve Ballmer made an unannounced appearance to tell them that 500,000 people have already downloaded Windows 8.

Despite being thrilled about the early interest in the product, the exec was careful to say that the system still had a long way to go, reported All Things Digital’s Ina Fried.

“We’re retooling all of what we do,” Ballmer told the crowd at the Anaheim, Calif., gathering. “To me this all adds up to an unprecedented time of opportunity for developers.”

There’s been a lot of early enthusiasm for the new PC and tablet platform, which the company unveiled Tuesday. But Microsoft will have to aggressively pursue developers eager to create those PC and tablet applications for the company’s “touch-first” system — especially with a Windows app store waiting in the wings at launch.

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By  |  04:59 PM ET, 09/14/2011

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