Microsoft CEO: 'We are a devices and services company'

Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer signals "fundamental shift" in supplier's strategy as Windows 8 is prepared for release

Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer has told shareholders that the world's largest software firm is a software firm no longer – but instead, a "devices and services company".

In his annual letter to investors, Ballmer said there is a "fundamental shift" under way in Microsoft, which is embodied in the forthcoming release of Windows 8.

"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," he said.

"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 basic tenets of Microsoft's strategy are unchanged - Windows and Office are highlighted by Ballmer as key products. He said one of the supplier's main focus areas is: "Firmly establishing one platform, Windows, across the PC, tablet, phone, server and cloud to drive a thriving ecosystem of developers [and] unify the cross-device user experience."

"Office, too, is taking a major leap forward," he added.

"The ultimate experience with the new Office for both consumers and businesses will come when it is paired with a Windows 8 device and delivered as a cloud subscription service with Office 365."

The letter will leave shareholders with little doubt about the critical importance to Microsoft of Windows 8, and its aim to be the first operating system to span mobile, desktop, server and cloud systems.

There are also rumours that Microsoft is planning to release a version of Office for Apple's iOS and Google's Android mobile operating systems, to protect the firm's user base where businesses allow staff to choose their own mobile device for accessing corporate systems – a situation where many will not necessarily opt for a Windows-based product.

Windows 8 is due to be released on 26 October.

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