Windows 8 may just be the most significant product launch in Microsoft’s history, at least according to the company’s CEO Steve Ballmer.
“You know, Windows 95 was certainly the biggest thing in the last 20 years until now. I think Windows 8 certainly surpasses it,” Ballmer said in a wide-ranging interview with The Seattle Times over the weekend. In fact, Ballmer is so confident about Windows 8 that he won’t even entertain the notion that the new operating system and the products built around it end up being anything other than a success.
Some of Ballmer’s confidence in the potential for the operating system appears to come from his belief — and presumably the company’s as well — that the PC market is stronger than it gets credit for.
“People talk about: ‘How healthy is the PC market?’” Ballmer said in the interview. “There’s going to be close to 400 million PCs sold in the next year, which makes it a big market. And whether it’s 405 (million) or 395 (million), it’s a big market, and Windows 8 will propel that volume.”
There’s no doubt that there’s still a healthy customer base for PCs, but as Mashable has previously reported, analysts expect Windows 8 will provide only a minimal boost to this market, nothing that will turn this industry around. Indeed, in recent weeks we’ve seen that companies like Intel and HP whose businesses based largely on PC sales are increasingly struggling.
Of course, Microsoft isn’t ignoring the tablet space completely either. The company will start selling its new Surface tablet online and in Microsoft stores next month. However, in the interview, Ballmer suggested that this tablet won’t be as cheap as some previous reports had suggested.
“We haven’t announced pricing. I think we have a very competitive product from the features perspective,” Ballmer said. “If you look at the bulk of the PC market, it would run between, say, probably $300 to about $700 or $800. That’s the sweet spot.”
If the Surface tablet is priced on the low end of that spectrum, at say $US299.99, it would certainly undercut the iPad on price and potentially give Apple reason to sweat, but if Microsoft chooses to price it somewhere in the middle of that range, the tablet would have a much harder time competing with the iPad, which already has a huge head start.