updated 09:06 pm EDT, Thu October 25, 2012
'There's no device on the market that's like the Surface'
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has indicated that the software giant's foray into the hardware sector is not a step it is likely to reverse any time soon, and that Microsoft will be releasing hardware beyond its just-released Surface tablets. Microsoft's move into hardware production has angered some of its PC manufacturing partners, who now fear that they will have to compete with the very company that supplies them with an operating system. That fact apparently has not swayed Ballmer, though, as he has stated that the company will do more in hardware "where we see important opportunities to set a new standard."
Microsoft views its Surface tablets as a purer expression of the capabilities of Windows 8, in a way similar to the Nexus devices Google periodically introduces in collaboration with its manufacturing partners. Speaking with the BBC, Ballmer characterized Surface as a necessary "proof of concept" to push application development and create buzz for Windows 8.
Asked if Microsoft had arrived to late to the party with regard to tablet and touch computing, Ballmer expressed confidence in the Surface and Windows 8, claiming that there were no comparable devices on the market with regard to a device that could be used both for play and for productivity.
Ballmer wouldn't go into detail on any other hardware Microsoft might be working on at the moment, but the company has been rumored for some time to be working on its own smartphone that would run Windows Phone 8. Some observers believe that Microsoft is holding back on releasing such a device until it is able to see how its phone manufacturing partners perform with their own Windows Phone releases.
The company is also already known to be working on a successor to the Surface, due to some job postings referencing the "next generation" of the Microsoft tablet.