Microsoft CEO Ballmer touts Windows 8 momentum

Steve Ballmer tells the Microsoft Build conference in Redmond that there have been 4 million upgrades sold

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer kicked off the company's annual Build developer conference emphasizing the momentum of the company's new Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 operating systems.

"In just the last three days, we have sold 4 million Windows 8 upgrades," Ballmer said Tuesday at the conference in Redmond, Washington. "The level of embrace from enthusiasts is very, very high."

Ballmer noted that Microsoft has also sold "tens of millions" of corporate licenses for Windows 8 as well. Organizations "can upgrade when they want to but have no time pressure to do that anytime soon," he said.

In conveying the success, Ballmer mentioned some of the retailers and OEMs that expressed enthusiasm for the new release. U.K. retail electronics purveyor Dixons noted that laptop sales were 20 percent ahead of the forecasted sales for the weekend, thanks to Windows 8, Ballmer relayed. U.S. office supply store Staples has also reported customer excitement for the new OS, Ballmer noted. Hewlett-Packard is also "excited about what [it] see[s] from initial sales," Ballmer said.

"The level of enthusiasm and desire to learn about the new Windows 8 computers has really been remarkable," Ballmer said. "Hundreds of millions of Windows systems [will be] sold in the next year."

Microsoft's Build conference is aimed toward developers using Microsoft technologies to write applications, ones that run on Microsoft platforms, such as the Windows desktop and server operating systems, and Windows Phone.

This year, Microsoft has much to convey to its developers. Last week, the company has just launched Windows 8, which features a new interface that developers will need to understand. At the conference, the company plans to introduce to developers the new user interface design guidelines.

Yesterday, the company also launched the latest version of its mobile operating systems, Windows Phone 8, which Ballmer called Microsoft's first mobile OS to be a full-fledged member of the Windows family. The conference will provide developers with the chance to learn the new SDK (software development kit) for this OS.

Ballmer likened the launch of Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 to other momentous times in the history of the personal computer, such as the launch of the IBM PC and the launch of Windows 95, which "was really brought computing into the mainstream and opened up the Internet."

"Our industry is rebuilding itself around new [hardware] classes and services, and you, the developers in this room, are in the forefront of seizing that opportunity and being able to make it into something that is absolutely fantastic," Ballmer said.

The new OSes will cover a wider range of form factors -- such as tablets, convertibles and all-in-ones -- and offer more personalized experiences, through the integration with social networking sites, cloud storage, and live data feeds. Ballmer tied Windows 8 closely with Windows Phone 8. "If you want the best experience with your new Windows experience, you will own a Windows Phone," he said.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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Joab Jackson

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