Microsoft is now your 'devices and services' company

CEO Steve Ballmer's latest shareholder letter declares that Microsoft officially is a devices and services company now, emphasizing the company's hardware desires.

Mary Jo Foley
Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network.
Mary Jo Foley
2 min read
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and a device CNET

Microsoft really wants to make sure its shareholders, customers, partners, and competitors realize it's not just a big software company anymore.

In an October 9 letter to shareholders, part of Microsoft's just-released fiscal 2012 annual report, CEO Steve Ballmer repeated his new "devices and services company" mantra to drive it home.

Ballmer hasn't (yet) chanted "devices, devices, devices" in front of any public or private audiences (that we know of, at least) in the way he once, in 2006, infamously chanted "developers, developers, developers."

But he told The Seattle Times a few weeks back that Microsoft can and should be considered a devices and services company. The latest Ballmer shareholder letter re-emphasizes that message.

From the letter:

Last year in this letter I said that over time, the full value of our software will be seen and felt in how people use devices and services at work and in their personal lives. This is a significant shift, both in what we do and how we see ourselves -- as a devices and services company. It impacts how we run the company, how we develop new experiences, and how we take products to market for both consumers and businesses. The work we have accomplished in the past year and the roadmap in front of us brings this to life.

The Ballmer shareholder letter also claimed again that Microsoft is still counting on its partners to produce business and consumer devices and hardware that customers want. But it's clear Microsoft isn't getting into the hardware game on a lark or just to incent its OEMs to make better-designed products, as some company watchers and partners have said.

Ballmer noted that, going forward, Microsoft plans to continue to focus on the development of "new form factors that have increasingly natural ways to use them including touch, gestures, and speech."

Along with the Xbox, the Microsoft Surface is here to stay and seemingly will include more products as part of the family (in its latest proxy statement -- also released today -- Microsoft described Surface as "a series of Microsoft-designed and manufactured hardware devices").

This story originally appeared at ZDNet under the headline "Microsoft CEO Ballmer: Devices, devices, devices!"

Microsoft Surface unveiled: The first Microsoft-branded Windows tablet.
Watch this: Microsoft Surface unveiled: The first Microsoft-branded Windows tablet.