Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said the software giant has been consumed by a new approach to building software and services to match its vision of a world that is not necessarily post-PC, but definitely multi-screen. Launching the preview version of Windows 8.1, he revealed that developers are currently working on between 2m and 3m apps for Windows and that Windows 8.1 apps from Flipboard, NFL and Facebook are on the way.
Addressing over 6,000 developers and 60,000 viewers on the internet, Ballmer said that the company’s “grand vision” for computing in the 21st is already beginning to lock together and faster iteration of existing and future software and services is the new religion at Microsoft.
“The world is so dyamic and the amount of incredibly interesting, exciting and valuable work from Microsoft and its partners is really amazing. Office 365, Xbox One, Windows Phone – you really get a sense of some of the amazing stuff that is coming.”
Ballmer said that one of the key shifts at Microosft is the rapid pace of innovation. “If there is not one other message it is about the pace of transformation we are going through as a company to get to a rapid release cycle.
“Devices and services can only be delivered on a principle of rapid release.”
It’s not post-PC, but rather a multi-screen world
Ballmer praised new devices coming from players like Nokia such as the Nokia 925, which he said is the finest camera technology available in the market today.
But fundamentally, he said that the form factor for computing today has never been greater in terms of variety. “The PC of today doesn’t look very much like the PC of five or 10 years ago and in the last several months that we launched Windows 8 we’ve seen an explosion in the range of devices designed with Windows inside.”
These range from small tablets like the new 8.1-inch Acer Iconia W3 Windows 8 device which will come with Microsoft Office pre-loaded to full entertainment all-in-one machines from Lenovo and HP, not to mention devices capable of 12 and 17 hour battery lives from Samsung and HP.
“You are going to see a proliferation of Windows small tablet devices in the next six months,” Ballmer predicted confidently.
Ballmer said that in terms of apps there are currently 2-3m Windows 8 apps in production by developers and that the Windows 8 store is about to surpass 100,000 apps.
“The importance of desktop apps has never been more reinforced in the last six months,” he said, revealing that news reader app Flipboard and social network Facebook are both working on specific desktop apps for Windows 8 users.
The Windows 8.1 Preview is available for download beginning today at http://www.preview.windows.com.