Microsoft will 'dive in' to hardware for Windows 8

Microsoft is going to "dive in" to building hardware after the Surface tablet with Windows 8, says big boss man Steve Ballmer.

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
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Richard Trenholm
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Microsoft is going to "dive in" to building more hardware. As Windows 8 brings Microsoft's first major device, the Surface, Steve Ballmer says it will "obviously" be followed by more tablets, phones or other gadgets.

Speaking to the BBC, Microsoft boss Ballmer said following the Surface with more hardware is an obvious move. "Where we see important opportunities to set a new standard," says Ballmer, "yeah, we'll dive in."

Ballmer insists "there's nothing like the Surface on the market today", which is news to Apple, Google and everyone who's bought a tablet in the past couple of years. The Surface is Microsoft's first major bit of consumer hardware aside from the Xbox, and it's been unleashed upon the world to break the iPad's chokehold on the tablet market.

Despite fine showings from the likes of the Asus Transformer and Google Nexus 7, no Android tablet has mounted a serious challenge to the iPad's all-conquering 100 million-strong sales figures. Can the Surface harness the wide reach of Windows to become the tablet du jour?

The Surface uses Windows RT, a special trimmed-down tablet-friendly version of Windows 8. It'll be followed at a later date by the Surface Pro, which uses the same Windows 8 software as laptops and computers -- meaning it isn't limited to apps from the Microsoft Marketplace.

But what comes next? The obvious next step is to launch a 7-inch tablet, which would take on the Nexus 7 and the newly minted iPad mini. Another enduring rumour is that Microsoft will make its own phone using Windows Phone software.

Ballmer describes the launch of Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 as "an epic thing" for Microsoft, launching a "new era for computing" that unites hardware with mobile devices and the cloud.

Windows 8 and the Surface launch tomorrow. The Surface starts at £399 for the 32GB model. Add £80 and you get a keyboard cover too. The 64GB model, with keyboard, costs £559.

What devices do you think Microsoft should make next -- or should Ballmer's buddies stick with software? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page.