With Windows 8 on horizon, Microsoft declares new war on Apple

July 10, 2012

Windows 8 PCs are officially coming in October, and Microsoft is holding nothing back when it comes to going after the competition.

In an interview with the tech news organization CRN, Microsoft’s chief executive Steve Ballmer said that while the company has “ceded some of the boundary between hardware and software innovation” to Apple in the past, it is not going to do that anymore.

“We are trying to make absolutely clear we are not going to leave any space uncovered to Apple,” he told the publication at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference on Monday.

He went on to say that Microsoft will be going hard after the consumer cloud market, hardware, software and the tablet market as it looks ahead.

There is certainly something interesting happening at Microsoft as the company completely revamps its operating system with the more touch-friendly Windows 8. Not only does the company have its own app store for tablets and computers, it’s also messed around with some of its most recognizable OS features such as the start menu. For traditionalists, there’s still the familiar mouse-and-keyboard navigation. But it also has its own, completely different live-tile interface reminiscent of Windows Phone.

Microsoft has generated some good buzz ahead of its new launch, not only with previews of its new system but also with the introduction of its Surface tablet, which impressed techies with its innovative keyboard cover design. But many are withholding judgement until they get their hands on one to try it out — or until Microsoft reveals a price.

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, for example, was impressed with the tablet’s design. In a video from a Chilean conference posted on the iDownload Blog, Wozniak said that when he saw the Surface he joked that “Steve Jobs came back reincarnated at Microsoft.” Wozniak also said that Microsoft is clearly changing as a company. “I don’t remember this sort of thing happening in a long, long time with Microsoft, so I’m very happy,” he said.

Ballmer said that he expects to sell a “few million” of the tablets, according to ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley, and indicated in the CRN interview that the Surface will be the company’s primary focus in the coming months.

That said, he didn’t rule out the possibility that Microsoft may launch its own smartphone to compete with Apple’s iPhone in the future.

“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.”

Related stories:

Microsoft offers cheap upgrades for Windows 8 Pro

Microsoft Windows 8 includes default Do Not Track privacy feature

Google and Microsoft follow Apple and release their own tablets

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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