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back to article Microsoft ultra-thins to 'out cool' netbooks, Apple

Microsoft is betting ultra-thin laptops can steal business from netbooks and Apple this Christmas while providing the opportunity to sell more expensive copies of Windows. Speaking at Microsoft's annual Financial Analyst Meeting in Redmond, Washington, chief executive Steve Ballmer told investors that Microsoft, Intel, and PC …

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FAIL

Still?

Are they still mentioning the (as far as I remember) lie that the return rates are higher for Linux-based machines?

Anyway, it all shows how desperate they are to kill the "netbook"... And they are succeeding, no doubt. Windows fans, have you thanked the Penguin today? Or do you think you'd still have XP, nearly for free, if it wasn't for the original "netbook revolution"?

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Ty
Jobs Halo

hehee

Too little too late Monkey-Boy!

You are on a sinking ship and you can't even see it!

Start swimming windoze fanbois!

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E 2

Windows on netbook

I bought an eeepc 1000HA last winter. It came with Windows XP Home edition on it.

XP Home cannot participate in domains. Yet, when looked at the services control panel all the MS NetBIOS networking bits and pieces were turned on anyway, wasting RAM and presumably some CPU cycles.

So I wiped the disk and installed Fedora 10. I am happier now.

Good day.

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Linux

Looks like they completely missed the ball again

They only brought their netbook share up when the started giving away Windows XP. Now they think they can raise the price? Their market share will drop right back down...

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Anonymous Coward

But how is Microsoft, a software company

going to make "cool" (whatever the hell that means in Ballmer's mind) hardware? No, where MS went wrong is in chasing volume of whatever they could sell (hint: not Vista) and allowing their partner companies to head for the bottom of the stack by making cheap'n'nasty the new paradigm. Bravo. When your biggest-selling product is the stuff that people have to look at all day at work, you're never going to be cool, simple as that.

I'm increasingly coming to believe that Ballmer is in possession of a Reality Distortion Field which, unlike that belonging to the other Steve and of which it is but a sloppy copy, is tuned to focus its energies inwards rather than outwards.

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Silver badge

What a suprise

M$ just don't get it at all.

Why do I have a netbook? My netbook is not a replacement for my laptop.

I like my netboot because

it is small!

it is light.

I can carry it about easily, because it is small and light

It was cheap, so I can afford to have one as well having laptops and desktops and servers.

A lot of people who see tell me it's cool, personally I don't give a sh1t... see above

So W7 is going to be within spitting distance of $200 well kido my netbook with a 1280pixel wide screen didn't cost much more than that and the OS and all the office software didn't add to the price.

So why would I want a ultra thin to replace my netbook.

It will be big, the wife couldn't pop it into her handbag.

It will cost loads of money - aim for $200-$300 all in, OS & Office included.

An ultra thin might make a great laptop replacement, but it ain't going to be a netboot.

My netbook ain't going to replace my phone/ which also sends email, surfs the web, reads office docs and PDFs...

My netboot ain't going to replace my laptop

It is it's own device with it's own role

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By Chirstmas they'll what?

- Design a new form factor chassis for a non-existant model that's rigid enough to be so thin but light enough to be worth it

- test ultra-low thermal envolope CPUs or new ultrathin cooling systems that don;t yet exist

- design new motherboards and daughterboards to fir new chassis form factor

- pretend noone needs an Optical drive on a Windows box, and then design a matching external drive everyone will order as an upgrade.

- write new drivers for all the hardware we've not used before in this new model line

- Design a manufaturing line to actually make these things, then build it in a factory, not to mention we'll actually need several as many parts are made in different places and assembled elsewhere...

- Make it cool enough to sport a $200-300 price premium for it's size compared to slightly larger much faster, cheaper machines.

- STILL BE CHEAPER THAN APPLE'S AIR

- have all this in full ramped up production by what, October 1st, in order to make enough product to beat the Christmas retail freeze data, and have enough stock to ship to over 5,000 retail outlets and still have some for the web site, in multiple models and configurations and colors to boot.

Balmer is one of the most clueless blowhards to ever be authorized to speak to the press on behalf of a large firm. He has NO IDEA about the amount of effort it takes to engineer a product, let alone one that only Apple really has made successful in the past. Engineering such a machine was tried by a few competitors, and they all failed, and lost millions on the effort. Slimline, low power machines like these are niche products, and in this market, and with Apple's continuing success, and with the other's sliding market share, any manufacturer knows that trying to take on Apple on their own turf with a new product line is destined to fail, since if Apple even felt the tiniest bit threatend, they could knock a few hundred off the cost of their machine and still profit (since the line and research/development has long since been recouped on their end).

I'm not a fanboi of Apple, but even I see this as a completely stupid idea even in a good market, and to make it a reality in less than 3-4 months? complete insanity!

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Who makes what?

So Microsoft is announcing their new lineup of portable computers?

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Troll

Doesn't this mean that ...

... every "Lauren" out there won't be able to buy a PC ever again as they will be too uncool?

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FAIL

Fail

"Microsoft ultra-thins to 'out cool' netbooks, Apple"

And fails.

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N2
Bronze badge

Two words that dont make sense together

Microsoft & cool

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Alien

This guy is in charge of Microsoft?

So laptops that Microsoft DO NOT MAKE are going to "out cool" Apple?

I think I've heard it all.

I can't imagine hardware partners are going to make hardware with the aesthetics of Apple. Dell, HP, Sony, Acer, Toshiba. Samsung, Levono et al may make some credible laptops..but can they make "cool"?

No chance.

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FAIL

Steve, Steve, Steve, Steve, ... No!

Uh-huh. 0/10 for language.

Threat, attack, upsell, adjust North ...

The wurdz are so negative dood!

How about

creative competition, enthusiasm to win, give our customers and our end users the best upgrade options on the market, be competitive in all aspects of pricing, ... ?

This, to me, looks like another case of an excellent 2nd in command taking stuff into steep decline.

Some language surely is needed for non-public, non-publicly quoted stuff and that can indeed go into hard sell economics but for the mainstream you gotta sell positively and positivity positively positive.

Puh-lease! No negatives in public statements - u no it makes sens.

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FAIL

Someone should gag him...

"That thing is heavier than the Toshiba I carry," said Ballmer When Kawasaki remarked that it was more powerful than Ballmer's Toshiba, he shot back, "that thing is missing half the features of a PC. Where is your DVD drive? Let me look for that." [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ar_r2kE9Ej4] Amusing, but what a dick. Just for interest, http://www.flickr.com/photos/paintitblack/2439080330/

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Paris Hilton

wow .. did not realise

Microsoft is a laptop designer and manufacturer, when did this happen ?

I suppose when the stores open we will see these Microsoft brand ultra-thins ?

"Microsoft" ... ummm .. "ultra-thin" .. errr ...

maybe this makes sense to Paris(?)

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Jobs Horns

Innovation

Is this in the vein "We're innovating new ways to break standards before you can implement them"?

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Gates Halo

Bast*** Ballmer!

We - that is a lot of people - have been trying to buy a netbook without the Windows tax for the last half year. No way, no Asus, no DELL, no Lenovo. Out.

When they came out, Linux was the choice: Asus, Acer. I have one single Acer Aspire One, bought at a store price of 2/3 of what all the netbooks cost in these days, a S110. It booted Linpus from power-switch to completely loaded in 18 seconds, and does a great job (40 seconds) now with Ubuntu's netbook remix.

I bet, Microsoft has twisted the arms (pun intended) of all manufacturers. If only the EU, and the legal watchdog in the USA were looking into these shady cartel practices?

I wonder how powerless the manufacturers are? They could have sold a bunch of extra netbooks to my friends and colleagues. Since when does a business not want to sell? Only when the mafia from Redmond threatens them into submission.

And as a 'thank you', Steve Bas**** Ballmer now wants to pull the carpet from underneath these same manufacturers, and Apple, of course.

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FAIL

Am I reading this right?

Ballmer says the price of Windows for netbook is going UP?

Short this company.

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One hand washes the other

yesterday marketing officer Sean Maloney in an interview

(From Register article: Windows 7 finds home at Intel)

But Maloney wants companies to upgrade their PCs to run Windows 7. "Now the question is," he said, "can we get the argument to the CFOs and the CEOs that it makes more sense to spend a little bit on capital to reduce your operating costs?"

What Maloney really said:

I'll get CFO's and CEO's to spend on Windows 7 , and (discounted) Intel boxes from our partner retailers (cha-ching).....and you guys ditch AMD

Ballmers reply: Today

"When a customer says we want a netbook with bigger screen we will say here's an ultra thin," Ballmer said. "We want people to be able to get the advantages of light weight performance and be able to spend more money with us and Intel and Dell and HP and others."

What Ballmer really ment:

We hear you loud and clear Intel...AMD who! - others

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FAIL

Ballmer has serious Apple envy problems

Check out Ballmers opinion of a superslim laptop just one year ago:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ar_r2kE9Ej4

Yet, two years after Apple, they are going to bring one out. If they are doing nothing but chasing (several years behind) Apple and Google, they are seriously in trouble.

How long before Ballmer is kicked out?

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Anonymous Coward

Disconnect between work and reward

'"When a customer says we want a netbook with bigger screen we will say here's an ultra thin," Ballmer said.'

'"When you see the hardware the PC designs that will come out this Christmas with Windows 7 that conventional wisdom will begin to change," Ballmer said.'

'"Ballmer vowed prices would go up, and Microsoft had a "great chance" to up-sell customers"'

So Microsoft can charge more for Windows because other companies have put in hard work to make PC hardware snazzy? (I doubt Microsoft exercised any initiatives towards upcoming cool hardware.)

What a great position Microsoft has worked itself into! LOL

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Jobs Horns

Ballmer doesn't get it

Netbooks are not the same thing as laptops, dude. Google is going to kick your a*** when they marry their OS with the low-end netbooks.

And besides, since when did Ballmer know ANYTHING about "cool"?

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WTF?

Wow!

Once again Ballmer opens his gob and shows what an idiot he is

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Happy

Dell Inspiron Mini 10v

I've just taken delivery of a Dell Inspiron Mini 10v. No Windows tax.

It was £199 with Ubuntu preinstalled. Nice.

And nicer still once I'd replaced Dell's slightly tweaked Ubuntu 8.04 with the real McCoy ~ the Netbook Remix version of Ubuntu.

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Silver badge
Headmaster

note to Balmer: There is things called a Recession

in your prime market areas.

Who do you think is going to ante up the same price for the OS as for the Hardware on one of the so called vapourware 'cool' devices?

Answer: Very few. Actually the few who don't want a netbook and can't afford a Mac.

Are you going to port Windows 7 (not CE please) to ARM? I think that is where the next 'cool' devices will be centred. Apple already have OS/X running on Arm and could easily bring out an ultra cool Mac that consumes milliwats of power (not watts) and has a 24hour battery life. That coupled with a LED screen would be cool(and not only thermally).

Please Mr Balmer, go back to sticking your head in the Sand. The world is a better place without your ill thought out predictions.

btw, I give your 'retail' outlets 6 months tops. You can't copy Apple and win here as you don't have the product to compete. Touch alone (as a USP) won't bring in the $$$$. Everything else is and has been available elsewhere for ages.

Wacko. As you clearly need an economics lesson.

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Dear Microsoft

Dear Microsoft, have you not learned from the FAIL of the concept of "UMPC"?

You as foremost a software maker (yeah and some pehripherals and a huege black box) may not necessarily be the one who best predicts what customers long for as next "cool" PC form factor (hardware, that is).

Especially not so if you were to let yourself be lead by "what new computer type fits Windows" rather than by user feedback, field research and/and UI professionals and then ask yourself "how does Windows need to change for these".

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Silver badge

Balmer the muppet

<quote>

"Just as rich graphics come to HMTL it'll [innovation] be about touch," Ballmer said.

</quote>

Yeah, because I'd just love to own a laptop/netbook/tablet with smeary dirty finger marks all over the fucking thing. Prat.

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Silver badge

Utra thin?

I thought it was only Mac fans that fell for stupid marketing ideas like 'ultra thin'.

It doesn't actually save any space real space - unless you cant really use a computer and it just sits in your bag with a lot of paperwork...that you couldn't get on the computer??

And then disappears down the back of the sofa with the telly remote.

I'd be interested to hear how many of these things get snapped or otherwise damaged cos they're ultra-thin.

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Jobs Halo

Ballmer

Ballmer could be a Jobsian shill.

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Bronze badge
Flame

Ballmer, missing the point as usual!

Ballmer, the clue is in the name, "NETBOOK", a ploy on "NOTEBOOK", as in scribbling thing for very quick note taking and reading. Just 'so your dopey O/S needs 180 key keyboard and a 27" screen cluttered with crap widget, other don't!

People who buy netbooks and then complain they're too small are prats! You wouldn't test a car, find there isn't enough leg room then still shell out £20k for it would you? So why is a £200 any different? No you're a prat with more money than sense!

I have a Mac at home, I bought one of the ACER Aspire One netbooks and loaded OSX and Ubuntu on it. It's fantastic, I have big fat hands but I accepted that it would be small, at the same time I know it's not meant to be worked on all day! It's for the odd email, 20 minutes of Youtube or finding a map or product page, bit of webmail and maybe a little bit of casual gaming.

When I have to visit the DR site for work I ALWAYS take my netbook. It fits snuggly into a space in a cab while I test this and that, while everyone else has to make do with clunky laptops and those hideous cab terminals that make you crane your neck too far.

If I wanted "cool" (whatever that is?) or big screen or big keyboard I would have bought a Macbook, but Mr Jobs has had quite enough money out of me! I may be a bit of a gullible prat with too much money, buying a Mac, but I'm not a complete prat!

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Grenade

Don't panic, don;t panic!

I think what's really interesting, is that Microsoft consider Apple such a real threat to their business. It's not so much the Netbook fad that Balmer is trying to kill, he knows that it's already a lost battle and you can't compete an OS that works great and costs nothing, with an OS that works ok, but costs a pile of dosh.

Three years ago, Apple were just some niche computer maker that had done amazingly well in the consumer electronics market with the iPod. But in that time, possibly propelled by the iPod, people have been taking note of their computer range that has been typically well thought out and implemented, and decided to give it a go.

I tend to see more people at airports with MacBooks, less so Netbooks these days. The odd few have a windows laptop. I'm not going to pretend that this is anything but a casual observation of a trend, rather than hard data, but it's been big enough to notice without actively looking.

Apple has almost all of the pc market covered with its range. From the "cheap" entry level Mac Mini to the awesome Mac Pro and the same goes the Mac Book range. Yes they are expensive when you compare them to the more cheap n' cheerful windows range, but they all work amazingly well and the bottom of the range Macs all have exceptional performance when coupled with OSX.

Microsoft is gunning for Apple in an attempt to dampen its rise in the home computer market, but somehow, I don't think Microsoft know how to do this. I'm not saying that Apple is going to conquer Microsoft, but it might be that the stranglehold on the pc market is well and truly over with Microsoft being just another software house instead of the "be all and end all" of the business.

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Silver badge
Big Brother

Ah.....Lifestyle

"..will attempt to push Windows as a lifestyle concept on PCs, phones, and TVs. "

Isn't that like pushing fleas and lice as a lifestyle concept?

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Thumb Down

Oxymoron....

So cool-microsoft is one, as is cheap-apple and ubiquitous-linux (i know they arent all mentioned). What about secure-windows or open-iphone?

Horses for courses. I wouldnt buy an ultrathin, just because it makes me look cool. That sort of behaviour singles one out as being a twat. I also wouldnt pay a premium for windows 7 on a netbook, mainly because it wont be used for much else that surfing t'internet. So let M$ fight apple for the glamour and let us cheapo b'stards carry on using last year's laptops with lesser operating systems. We aint all rich!

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FAIL

That Steve Balmer

He's a proper twat isn't he?

If Microsoft think they can hit the netbook market and supply laptops that have a cooler image than Apple then maybe Microsoft just have money to burn, who knows?

Its because of stupid ideas like this that their operating systems cost so much, I would have thought with the upcoming release of Google Chrome OS, they would be focussing on ensuring they retain the home os market.

Maybe that is what this is, maybe they aim to tie the PC manufacturers into making windows based PC's / Netbooks / laptops only, so the OEM builders can't touch Chrome?

If it is, it will fail, Google will wipe the floor with them.

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FAIL

SCC...

Small *cheap* computers. Fail.

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Thumb Up

ha ha ha ha ha

They think selling more expensive windows during the economical free fall will bring in more money. That people want that ultra thin and powerful laptop at vastly over priced rates when so many can't afford a weekly shop, or the next mortgage payment?

Are we actually in the same reality as this man?

They will do this, not sell the numbers and people will once again turn to cheap linux driven laptops, then MS will look bad and ballmer the imbecile will eventually be forced out, bringing peace and joy to the world.

I hope ultra thin will be applied to the bloatware that was Vista and that windows 7 doesn't end up the same way. Not that I am going to buy it as I got Vista ultimate and I won't get bitten again.

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FAIL

What planet....

is Ballmer in orbit around?

It certainly isn't this one.

Hasn't he noticed that there is rather a bad recession going on, that people don't have money to spend, that factories and production lines are shutting down, that laptop manufacturers are having a hard time.

It's just over 140 days until Christmas. Who the hell is going to do all the design and manufacturing? As another commenter pointed out ultra thins aren't just a matter of slapping the standard laptop mb into a new case, they need completely different designs, different and more efficient cooling systems.

So unless Ballmer has a secret army of Christmas elves hidden away somewhere you have to wonder how much of this is just bullshit aimed at trying to persuade people not to buy a netbook running XP (which MS get less money for) or a shiny new Apple (for which MS get no money)

I think Ballmer needs to go and lie down in the dark somewhere and take his little pills.

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Gates Horns

Doesn't this already exist?

Isn't small, thin and light with a bigger display what the MacBook Air, various Vaios. Thinkpad X series, Tosh Porteges etc. already offer? And it's a fairly niche market.

And the reason they're not so cheap is that it's harder to make thin laptops that perform well. I suppose you could take the netbook internals and put them together with a 12-13" screen (spreading out the components and having a flatter battery would certainly make the netbook thinner). But, it would still be a netbook in terms of power, and unsuitable for 'upselling' Windows on.

I don't get it. I'm sure everyone would love a cheap, thin, netbook. But I can't see how it can just magically be delivered.

Ballmer is ruining Microsoft. How much longer are the shareholders going to put up with him and his idiot statements?

Can we have a stupid Ballmer icon? His head on a monkey would do it for me... Evil Bill, as that's the closest.

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Badgers

History

History shows us that there is an inevitable rise and fall in large civilisations and large corporations. Examples are ancient Greece, Rome and the British Empire for the former; Digital Equipment Corporation and IBM for the latter. How many years before Microsoft, Apple, and even Google are overtaken by newer and more focused upstarts?

Still, one thing never changes, and we can comfort ourselves with the thought that powerful invective, however biased and ill-informed, will always be present in the comments to El Reg articles!

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FAIL

Greed!

Don't support these greedy bastards! 90% share isn't enough?

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FAIL

Good luck selling those ultra thins, Steve

Assuming they exist by christmas, who can afford a new piece of tat at the moment? I got a netbook cos they're smaller than a laptop and bigger than a phone, but most of all, 'cos they're cheap. It has XP on it 'cos life's too short for Linux. (Sorry, fanboys, but that's how it is with me and about 80% of the rest of the PC-buying public.) There must be a margin for a stripped down, cheap Windows 7 for netbooks. They're not going away at christmas just because somebody at Microsoft says they will.

Duh, Steve.

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WTF?

I beg your pardon

"Still, he made a point of saying while Chrome might implement standards like HTML, standards lag the pace of innovation from companies like Microsoft."

Yes, because Microsoft is a true powerhouse of innovation. Whereas Google are the epitome of bumbling corporate lethargy. What a crock. The only innovation MS has come up with recently is the ability to invert the Reality Distortion Field up its own ass.

So glad I'm finally free of MS and their BS.

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Stop

It's what the masses want

I'm happy using a 'nix netbook as will most Reganistas because we work in IT. My non-IT mate just bought a netbook for his birthday and was offered two similarly spec machine, one with Linux and one with XP that was 20 quid more. He chose the XP one because he felt more comfortable with it, because all his other computers also ran XP.

As much as idealists might not like it, the great unwashed like Windows. They don't understand all of the nuances of the argument. They just like what they know.

Get over it.

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Gates Horns

Google OS

Ballmer is going to try and sell W7 for more than the existing WinXP? With Google getting ready to provide a full on GoogleOS to the masses, aimed squarely at the netbook market.

Is this man mad? Did he ever take a strategic marketing course?

He needs to give away W7 for netbooks, and loosen the terms, if he is going to stand a cat in hell's chance of not gifting Google a bridgehead into microsoft's core OS market. There is no hope in hell that he will be able to wring more money out of W7. In fact, across the board he's going to have to make it about 33% cheaper than the 'preorder' price if he's not to kill microsoft.

He really doesn't get it, does he?

Buy Google, sell microsoft.

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Silver badge

The most easily believable part of the article

"Ballmer ... said he doesn't understand Google's planned Chrome operating system."

The only thing larger than Microsoft's Windows profit line is the list of things Ballmer doesn't understand. I appreciate that he was friends with Gates at university, but nevertheless someone must be able to oust him if the company keeps going like this?

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WTF?

"Windows 7 on ARM"

There's lots of good stuff in these comments.

To the gentleman that suggested Windows 7 on ARM might be interesting: think about that for a few moments. Why would it be interesting? It's not the fact that it's Windows that makes it interesting, it's the fact that it has the range of Wintel applications. Which ARM doesn't have. It *could* have, technically speaking. But this market isn't driven by sensible technical factors.

If it was just the fact that it was Windows, then surely (ho ho) Windows Mobile on ARM would do what you want? Except WinCE doesn't have much in common with Windows 7, apart from the vendor name.

If it's apps you want, there's already Linux on ARM, with plenty of apps to choose from. But every time a mainstream PC vendor gets close to a volume ARM/Linux product, something seems to happen, they fall under a bus, whatever, leaving the ARM/Linux market in the hands of tier 2 (or worse) companies. Nothing whatsoever to do with tier 1 suppliers being demotivated from ARM/Linux by the convicted Wintel monopolists though, because that would be anti-competitive and (in many countries) illegal.

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Jobs Halo

Ballmer walks into it again

'"Just as rich graphics come to HMTL it'll [innovation] be about touch," Ballmer said.'

You mean like the iPhone and iPod touch, Steve?

Ooops.

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Missing the point

I think a lot of people are missing the point. There was a report that Apple are taking an enormous share of the $1000+ computer market - and this is the market that the OEMs are desperate to cut into. Microsoft, the OEMs and Intel all need to sell their big ticket items; the race to the bottom is fine in a recession, but they need to have some hope of recovering the high-end market share from Apple in the future.

Shamelessly copying Apple is their tactic, first Vista now 'Ultra-thin'. It is clear they cannot innovate their way out of a paper bag.

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Anonymous Coward

Software maker

MS makes the OS.

Other companies make mostly cheap and cheerful, pile em high sell em cheap machines.

Unless MS start making their own hardware, they can't dictate or try and persuade manufacturers what to make. They have no control over the market they're 'uncool' in - they just ship the software.

I don't see the point of Balmer whinging - the only thing to do is start selling MS machines. Otherwise, there's nothing they can do.

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Silver badge

Ballmer ... doesn't understand Chrome

MS have either completely misunderstood the benefits of the WEB - which is a possibility, or to my mind more likely, they have understood it and realise the almost complete annihilation of their business model should others realise what its capable of and have devoted their efforts to undermining standards etc. to prevent others realising its capabilities.

Google chrome is nothing new conceptually - the only things in there that might be described as new are components to replace those that were disabled by MS and others preventing agreement on very simple standards.

Balmer may not understand it - but I bet 90% of their programmers do. Chrome merely makes it easier to use the WEB, as easy as it was before IE.

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