updated 01:10 pm EST, Tue November 15, 2011
Microsoft CEO shrugs off threat to Windows
Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer during the company's annual shareholder's meeting made the declaration that Windows would never go away. When asked if the company was in a post-PC era, as Apple's late Steve Jobs said, he denied it completely, saying that Windows would always be at the forefront. The expansion of smartphones and tablets was a "fantastic thing," he said, since it only helped Microsoft.
"We are in the Windows era -- we were, we are, and we always will be," Ballmer insisted. "Through the power of Windows, the PC will be a tablet machine, will be a reading machine, will be a note-taking machine."
He also partly sidestepped when asked why people couldn't buy "quality Microsoft tablets" today by holding up a Samsung Windows 8 Developer Preview tablet. Although based on a Series 7 tablet that can be bought in a store, Ballmer was ironically holding up an upgraded device only given out at the Build conference and can't be bought outside of auctions.
The statements followed as Microsoft's core Windows business was largely inanimate, as growth just topped three percent worldwide last summer, according to Gartner, and fell 11 percent in Western Europe. Microsoft has also so far been damaged more than helped by the move to mobile, as it shrank to just 1.5 percent of smartphones and saw Windows tablets' entire lifetime sales eclipsed by the iPad after just nine months.
Ballmer has also traditionally had a history of predicting the opposite of what occurs in the market. He's well-known for having predicted that the iPhone would have "no chance" in the face of Windows Mobile, albeit at a time when it cost a minimum $499. His latest remarks, touching primarily on tablets, came even as last year he had said it was urgent to kill the iPad in recognition that it would likely damage Windows' position in the market, which it ultimately did as netbooks crashed and led to rare successive declines in Windows revenue.