Microsoft has earned itself a new identity with the release of Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 and the Surface tablet, becoming more like a “devices and services” company akin to Apple. And according to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, per Reuters, that innovation will likely continue as the Redmond-based company looks for more opportunities to create new hardware.
“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,” Ballmer said at a tech event in Santa Clara, California on Wednesday. “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.”
Microsoft has made hardware in the past, most notably the widely successful Xbox 360 gaming console, although it usually works with manufacturing partners such as Hewlett-Packard, HTC and Nokia to make devices. Microsoft has also had its fair share of hardware failures, namely the discontinued Zune player and Kin devices. The company is taking a new attempt at doing its own hardware with the Surface, and higher consumer demand for the device shows that it might actually be successful.
By integrating the hardware and software of its products, much like Apple does, Microsoft can have a greater control over the user experience of its devices. Apple devices like the Mac, iPhone and iPad do not have breakthrough hardware specifications, yet Apple seems always optimize OS X and iOS to perform well on those products. Based on what Ballmer is saying, it appears that Microsoft will continue to share this approach in the foreseeable future.