Threat or Menace: Windows will be everywhere

At CES, Ballmer promises Microsoft can adapt, catch up, spread out

Microsoft isn't known for adapting to changing conditions. It tends to adapt changing conditions to itself.

In what Wired called a "somnolescent " keynote speech at the Consumer Electronics Show yesterday, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer promised Microsoft would be able to adapt, port and advance Windows onto tablets, smartphones, large kiosk devices and any other hardware available in the future.

Considering it doesn't have a decent touch interface suitable for phones or tablets in the core version of Windows -- despite the multitouch table-computer Microsoft Surface -- saying Microsoft will base all its non-PC device work on Windows 7 is gutsy.

If true (and possible) it would also keep Microsoft OSes from splintering along with the number of devices available. Having WindowsCE for some devices, Windows Phone 7 for others and Windows proper for a third category will only make things more complicated for everyone, raising costs, support issues and software compatibility problems.

While "Windows will be everywhere, on every kind of device" sounds as much like a threat as a promise, at least Ballmer is acknowledging the need to consolidate its set of OSes to compete effectively with Android and iOS.

Whether you want Windows everywhere or are patient enough to wait, is another question entirely, and one neither Ballmer nor his avatar were able to answer.

Kevin Fogarty writes about enterprise IT for ITworld. Follow him on Twitter @KevinFogarty.

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