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Microsoft vows hardware fight with Apple

Microsoft's CEO did not mince words when asked about how he is going to take on Apple in the coming years, according to a CRN interview.

Steve Ballmer.
Steve Ballmer. James Martin/CNET

Microsoft is going to turn up the heat on Apple, with a more aggressive focus on hardware, CEO Steve Ballmer said in an interview with Computer Reseller News.

After making predictable declarations about advantages in the corporate "enterprise" software market, he said that "we are not going to let any piece of this [go uncontested to Apple]...Not the consumer cloud. Not hardware software innovation. We are not leaving any of that to Apple by itself. Not going to happen. Not on our watch," according to CRN.

"Hardware-software innovation" is the operative phrase here, as that's the newest fight Microsoft is picking with Apple.

Microsoft is getting set to deliver its own PC for the first time in the company's history when Windows 8 rolls out later this year. Dubbed Surface, the line of tablets sports innovative keyboards -- allowing laptop-like functionality -- and includes models running Windows 8 for both Intel and ARM processors.

Ballmer recognizes that Apple has a distinct advantage by controlling both the hardware and software. That results in a taut hardware-software design, like the iPhone and iPad, which consumers obviously like.

"Right now we are working real hard on the Surface. That's the focus. That's our core. Look, we'll see what happens," he told CRN.

Where this strategy leaves its hardware partners like Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Acer, and Asus is not clear. Though he did say, "We do feel empowered to innovate everywhere and bring our partners with us."