The company, known for its software, is adopting an Apple-like strategy, by betting its future on hardware and online services.
In an annual letter to shareholders published Oct. 9, CEO Steve Ballmer called the decision a “significant shift” that affects every part of the company.
Ballmer said the company will continue to “work with a vast ecosystem of partners” on Windows PCs, tablets and phones.
But, he said, “there will be times when we build specific devices for specific purposes, as we have chosen to do with Xbox and the recently announced Microsoft Surface.”
Microsoft is not, however, forsaking its software roots, Ballmer said, adding the company will look at its software in a new way. The company will launch its new operating system, Windows 8, Oct. 26. The new system is to debut with devices that draw attention to the best of what the software has to offer.
“There’s a remarkable amount of opportunity ahead for Microsoft in both the next year and the next decade,” Ballmer said. “As we enter this new era, there are several distinct areas of technology that we are focused on driving forward — all of which start to show up in the devices and services launching this year. Leading the industry in these areas over the long term will translate to sustained growth well into the future.”
The focus areas include:
• Developing new form factors that have increasingly natural ways to use them including touch, gestures and speech.
• Making technology more intuitive and able to act on the user’s behalf.
• Building and running cloud services in ways that unleash new experiences and opportunities for businesses and individuals.
• Delivering new scenarios with life-changing improvements in how people learn, work, play and interact with one another.
“We see an unprecedented amount of opportunity for both this year and the long term,” Ballmer said. “Although we still have a lot of hard work ahead, our products are generating excitement. And when I pause to reflect on how far we’ve come over the past few years and how much further we’ll go in the next one, I couldn’t be more excited and optimistic.”