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02 Aug 2010

Microsoft wants your money.

It already has the money for your computer operating system and for Office, and now it says it’s going to try again for the money for your cell phone.

But more than anything, right now, it wants your money for a tablet PC.

In this week’s annual presentation to analysts in Redmond, Washington, CEO Steve Ballmer said that the company is “coming full guns” at the mobile tech market, kicking to the curb notions that the company has become boring and predictable — notions that have many in the industry wondering if Ballmer has outlived his usefulness to the company after 30 years as an executive.

As Reuters noted, Ballmer said, “We're going to sell like crazy; we're going to market like crazy.”

Emphasis on crazy: Ballmer is going downright nuts over the iPad’s overnight success, and he’s desperate to see Microsoft return to relevance in a market that is already worth billions.

The goal is to get into tablets as quickly and in as meaningful a way as possible, and Microsoft says the tablet business is “job number one” at the company.

Ballmer didn’t hint at what these tablets may look like or even how soon they’ll arrive, but it’s safe to assume the iPad is a distinct inspiration in the design department.

Microsoft did have early prototypes of cell phones running the upcoming Windows Phone 7 operating system on hand, but did not allow photographs of them, citing how the company had “a lot of work to do” to get ready for a launch in the fall.

But is it too much work for the company to handle? As I posited earlier this month, Microsoft may already be too late to the tablet party, and every day it delays — or allows another company to release shoddy hardware in this market with Windows running on it — it falls further behind the iPad.

And the cell-phone business could actually be even worse. Not only does the iPhone now have three long years of head start by now, but Android has installed itself as a solid second option in this category. Microsoft is also reeling from the disastrous aborted launch of the KIN phone, thought to be a preliminary direction for Windows Phone 7, which has done nothing to enhance its reputation as a player in the cell-phone space.


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