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Ballmer: Only Microsoft can compete with Apple’s hardware

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has risked upsetting Microsoft’s hardware partners, by claiming only Redmond itself can rival Apple’s devices.

In an interview with Bloomberg, the Los Angeles Clippers owner said only homegrown devices like the Surface Book and Surface Pro range are seriously competing with Apple.

Speaking of Apple’s lofty position at the top of the tech tree, Ballmer said: “Microsoft will give them a good run for their money,” before adding “nobody else has really tries to compete with them anymore, really seriously, in hardware.

If there’s going to be any competition for Apple at all, it will be from Microsoft.”

What Microsoft’s army of device makers, currently churning out a wide array of Windows 10 devices, will make of Ballmer’s comments remains to be seen.

Related: Is Steve right? Surface Book vs MacBook Pro

During the interview Ballmer, who remains the largest single shareholder in Microsoft, also reminisced about Microsoft’s $150m investment in Apple, which is thought to have saved Cupertino from extinction.

The 1997 deal, agreed shortly after the return of Steve Jobs to Apple, was the result of a Windows 95 patent lawsuit. The rest, of course, is history.

“In a way you could say that was the craziest thing [Microsoft] ever did.”

Big Steve also had some choice words for another big Microsoft rival, claiming Amazon is a place “people don’t want to work.”

He added: “Anybody who ever left Microsoft [for Amazon], we could count on them coming back within a year or two because it’s not a great place to work.”

Ballmer has been a little quiet since departing Microsoft in August 2014. However, he can regularly be seen dancing to Fergie at Clippers games, while a week ago he announced taking a 4 per cent stake in Twitter.

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