At the Worldwide Partners Conference, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said PC makers will have an opportunity to sell Windows 8 devices alongside the company's Surface tablet.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer assured OEMs that
they will certainly have an opportunity to successfully sell laptops and
tablets running Windows 8 even as Microsoft introduces its own tablet, called
Surface, with the new operating system.
Surface is just [one] design point, Ballmer
said in remarks July 9 before an audience of about 16,000 Microsoft partners
gathered in Toronto. It will have a distinct place in a broad Windows
ecosystem and the importance of thousands of partners that we have that design
and produce Windows computers will not diminish.
Microsofts decision to build its own tablet
tightly integrated with Windows software has been seen as undercutting
OEMs like Hewett-Packard,
Dell, Acer and others, which have for years licensed software from
Microsoft and built their own hardware. But Ballmer said he expects Microsoft
and its OEM partners will offer a spectrum of stunning Windows devices.
At the World Partner Conference, Tami Reller,
corporate vice president and chief financial officer of the Windows and Windows
Live Division at Microsoft, showed off a number of coming devices that will run
Windows 8 from Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo and Samsung. Reller also said that
the release to manufacturers (RTM) of Windows 8 will come as soon as the first
week in August and that general availability (GA) of the OS will occur by the
end of October. The RTM is the date that manufacturers can start installing
Windows 8 on devices, while the GA is when those devices can go on sale and
when customers can upgrade existing hardware to Windows 8.
Windows 8 will come in two variations, one
for devices built with an x86 processor architecture and another, called
Windows RT, for ARM processor devices.
Also at the partner conference, Kurt DelBene,
president of the Microsoft Office division, unveiled a new incentive program
for partners who sell Office 365, which is the Office productivity software
suite delivered in the cloud that the company introduced one
year ago. Under the Office 365 Open program, You guys own the top-line
revenue. It means you get to bill your customers directly for Office 365.
And you get to sell a single package, a single solution to customers.
The package, DelBene explained, would combine
Office 365 with other value-added services partners would offer themselves, all
in one invoice for the customer. Microsoft also updated the Office 365 Advisors
Program, making partners who sell more than 150 seats of the cloud service
eligible to earn more revenue.
DelBene also touted the $1.2 billion
acquisition of the enterprise social media service Yammer,
which will be managed within his Office Division. Yammer will combine the viral
adoption model of the service, which grew because individual employees at
various companies signed up for it on their own, with integration with Office
products such as SharePoint, Exchange, Outlook and others.
Ballmer added: This viral adoption model is
100 percent consistent with the consumerization of IT that gets talked about so
much. Its a service that the end user can pick before you or we or IT gets
However, he added, IT will be able to create
controls on the Yammer system for security and privacy of communications.
Ballmer ran through the many announcements
Microsoft made over the last year and the improvements that lie ahead,
including additional content released for Xbox and the coming addition of a
browser to the gaming system, a new release of the Bing
search engine incorporating social media results, the completed $8.5
billion acquisition of Skype
with its 250 million monthly users, and the coming Windows Phone 8 mobile
Ballmer said that Microsofts partners earned
combined revenue of $690 billion in 2011, up 13 percent from the year before.
Robert Mullins is a freelance writer for eWEEK who has covered the technology industry in Silicon Valley for more than a decade. He has written for several tech publications including Network Computing, Information Week, Network World and various TechTarget titles. Mullins also served as a correspondent in the San Francisco Bureau of IDG News Service and, before that, covered technology news for the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal. Back in his home state of Wisconsin, Robert worked as the news director for NPR stations in Milwaukee and LaCrosse in the 1980s.