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Microsoft's Ballmer on Windows Phone 8: Small but growing

CEO believes his company's platform can be a strong No. 3 in the smartphone world.

Steve Ballmer and his smartphones. James Martin/CNET

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer acknowledges that Windows Phone remains "relatively small" in the smartphone world but predicts that the launch of the latest version of its operating system will spark sales.

"I expect the volumes on Windows Phone to really ramp quickly," Ballmer said today during a launch event for Windows 8 in Israel. The presentation was covered by Reuters.

Microsoft formally launched the Windows Phone 8 platform last week, just days after the launch of its Windows 8 platform for desktops, laptops, and tablets. The company hopes to tie the two together, along with its Xbox 360 video game console, as a family of products that consumers will want to take a serious look at.

Microsoft has been working hard to push its mobile OS for the past two years, with little success. But with the latest launch and some strong products from HTC, Nokia, and Samsung Electronics, Ballmer said he believes Windows Phone could be a strong third player in the smartphone market.

Microsoft's attempt to win back a spot at the smartphone table is complicated by the ever-increasing dominance of the Android operating system from Google, as well as a comeback attempt by Research In Motion with its BlackBerry 10 platform. RIM CEO Thorsten Heins has also said he is aiming to be the strong third player in the market. Apple's iOS platform, which powers the iPhone, continues to do well, although Google has widened its lead over Apple.

Microsoft, meanwhile, expects to blanket the airwaves, Internet, and print media with advertisements for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8.

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