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Ballmer hints at more hardware, Microsoft phone


Noel Randewich

Microsoft's chief executive said his company would look at more opportunities to build its own devices, after the launch of the Surface tablet last month, potentially bringing the software giant into competition with long-time hardware partners and opening the door to a Microsoft-branded phone.

"Do I anticipate that partners of ours will build the lion's share of all Windows devices over the next five years? The answer is, absolutely," Steve Ballmer said at a tech industry event in Santa Clara, California.

"With that said, it is absolutely clear that there is an innovation opportunity on the scene between hardware and software and that is a scene that must not go unexploited at all by Microsoft," he said.

With the Xbox game console and now the Surface tablet — designed to take on Apple's iPad — Ballmer has been moving Microsoft toward being a "devices and services" company that would develop its own hardware where it made sense.

Reports surfaced two weeks ago that Microsoft was already testing a design for its own phone, but the company has not confirmed this.

Microsoft's new Surface tablet is the company's first foray into building its own PCs and has raised questions in the tech industry about how aggressively it plans to move into marketing more of its own personal computing devices.

Looking to Apple's success with its iPads and iPhones, Microsoft believes tightly controlling the design of both hardware and software can lead to superior consumer products.

But building its own tablets and "hybrid" PCs puts Microsoft into direct competition with manufacturers such as Hewlett-Packard, Acer and Lenovo, who for years have been customers of Microsoft's Windows operating system.


16 comments so far

  • Its time that Microsoft's hardware partners like Nokia started exploring the alternatives like Android.

    Date and time
    November 16, 2012, 12:15PM
    • It's

      Date and time
      November 30, 2012, 6:31PM
  • Microsoft has been building mice, keyboards & webcams for years. It hasn't hurt Creative or Logitech etc. I can't see the problem!

    Date and time
    November 16, 2012, 12:30PM
    • Let's just hope that their hardware quality exceeds that of their software by several orders of magnitude!

      Date and time
      November 16, 2012, 12:53PM
      • While I love the potential that Microsoft is offering with Win 8 and Win Phone 8 I am staggered that you cannot walk into any computer store in Sydney and get your hands on a touch screen laptop, ultrabook, netbook, let alone a tablet. The smallest screen I have found is a 20inch desktop.

        Oh and trying to sell out existing models with Win 8 on them is just an oxymoron. So bring it on Microsoft.

        Date and time
        November 16, 2012, 1:32PM
        • I can see why they want to do it after the success of Apple, however I'm not sure if it would be a good move in the long term because of the impact it would have on their customers such as Hewlett-Packard, Acer and Lenovo.

          Date and time
          November 16, 2012, 1:48PM
          • I think its quite a good idea for a few reasons

            1. they have tended to make decent hardware in the past - keyboards, mice, controllers and even the Xboxes

            2. there is an opportunity for them to "set a standard" that the other manufacturers can work from - cut down to sell for less or innovate and "upsell"

            3. it will give Microsoft themselves a much better idea of what their partners are having to deal with when building equipment for Microsoft-based Operating Systems and other software

            Will it work? Time will tell on this, but there is a real chance that it will if they make quality hardware which handles their software on a stable and controlled platform then it will definitely reflect well on their chances. If not, then it may just speed the downfall...

            Date and time
            November 16, 2012, 3:16PM
            • Don't make any more hardware Microsoft until you get your first release working like you advertised. Your new surface tablet runs like a dog on a hot day without any water.

              Date and time
              November 16, 2012, 3:34PM
              • Really? What are you doing that causes this? It's a very broad statement and is a polar opposite of what I am experiencing. Had mine for 2 weeks and it runs like a dream. Doesn't mattter if I am running apps, hitting the web, or playing vidz that are stored on internal/external storage.

                Mr G
                Date and time
                November 16, 2012, 11:33PM
              • @Berty, Obviously you are just trolling, Because if you had actually used a Surface your opinion would be different, My primary PC is a Win 8 Pro, i7, 16GB Ram, 256GB SSD, 2 x 27" Screens and even with all that I just love using my Surface, It works brilliantly, Does everything my iPad can't...

                Date and time
                November 17, 2012, 11:23PM

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