Microsoft’s head honcho, Steve Ballmer, was not due to make
an appearance at the company’s BUILD developer conference taking place in California this week, but he snuck in yesterday to hail the
popularity of its nascent operating system update, Windows 8.
We saw Microsoft go though an in-depth display of exactly
what Windows 8 is all about earlier in the week, before it made the preview
version available for download on Tuesday evening.
By the time Ballmer took the stage yesterday, we was able to
announce that 500,000 copies of the OS had been download overnight – however he
was wary to point out that Windows 8 is far from being the finished article.
“We still have a long way to go with Windows 8,” Ballmer
warned. The big man had little else of note to announce to the audience of
developers, and said he only popped in as he was in town anyway to attend an
Indeed it was at this analyst meeting that arguably the more
interesting pronouncements from Ballmer came – in relation to its smartphone OS.
He said that while he was pleased with the response from partners and
developers to Windows Phone, the handsets have not exactly been selling like hot cakes.
“We haven’t sold quite as many as I would have liked in the
first year,” Ballmer said, speaking at the company’s financial analyst meeting.
Microsoft has remained very tight-lipped about sales figures for handsets with
WP7 since it launched almost a year ago.
“I’m not saying I love where we are but I am very optimistic
on where we can be,” Ballmer said. “We’ve just got to kick this thing to the
While Ballmer believes it has managed to create a viable
alternate ecosystem to Android and iOS, it is the addition of Nokia hardware which could
give them the necessary sales boost: “With Nokia we have a dedicated hardware partner
that is all-in on Windows Phones. They are not doing something on Android or
[any other operating system].”
With Nokia’s first Windows Phone handset still due to arrive before the end of the year and the Mango update due any day now, Windows Phone is certainly
in with a fighting chance in the smartphone wars, but unless it sees
significant growth of its market share, then Ballmer and Co. could be coming
under severe pressure from shareholders.