Speaking at Microsoft's annual shareholder meeting, CEO Steve Ballmer highlighted the company's product momentum and business execution and outlined growth opportunities across the company's business groups, including search, mobile devices, entertainment, communications and cloud services.
Among other things, Ballmer confirmed to shareholder audience that the company was hard at work on the next version of the Windows operating system. "With Windows 8, we've reimagined Windows from the chipset all the way through to the user experience. Windows 8 will run on a broader range of devices from tablets to desktops," Ballmer said.
Ballmer let slip something that we've been hearing lots of rumors about, as noted by Business Insider's Matt Rossoff:
"We are driving Windows down to the phone with Windows 8."
Ballmer reportedly stated, answering to a question regarding the world moving to the 'post PC era:
"Well, one thing I know is we're certainly not -- we are in the Windows era. We were, we are, and we always will be. That's kind of what we get paid to do. We've got broad "Windows initiatives driving Windows down to the phone. With Windows 8," you'll see incredible new form factors powered by Windows from tablets, small, large, pens, smaller, bigger, room-sized displays. We are in an era in which the range of smart devices is continuing to expand. That's a fantastic thing for Microsoft. That is a real opportunity. That is an opportunity that we will pursue by leveraging and sharing and driving Windows in new ways."
According to Ballmer, "through the power of Windows, the PC will be a tablet machine, will be a reading machine, will be a note-taking machine."
Ballmer highlighted Microsoft's partnerships with Yahoo, Facebook and Twitter in helping to grow market share for its Bing search engine, noting that Bing now powers roughly 30 percent of U.S. search queries.
He also cited Microsoft's partnership with Nokia aimed at building a new mobile ecosystem that will drive global scale and opportunity for consumers, mobile operators and developers.
On the consumer front, he noted the growing excitement around new mobile devices built on Microsoft's Windows Phone platform, steady growth in Bing search share, and continued momentum for the Xbox 360 entertainment system and the groundbreaking hands-free Kinect sensor.
He also underscored that Microsoft is delivering the most comprehensive end-to-end cloud offering, enabling businesses to connect their existing and new investments across both public and private clouds with a common set of tools.
According to French newspaper Les Echos, Paul Amsellem, head of Nokia France, said during an interview that "in June 2012, [Nokia] will have a tablet running Windows 8."
Amsellem also told Les Echos that more higher-end handsets (in comparison to the Nokia Lumia 800) will be coming, comparing the handsets to the BMW automobile:
"The Nokia Lumia 800 is a bit like the equivalent of the BMW 5 Series. We will soon have a full range with a Series 7 and Series 3."
Earlier last month, Nokia's President and CEO Stephen Elop also hinted at the possibilities of a Nokia tablet based on Windows:
When you see the user experience from the Nokia Lumia environment appearing on hundreds of millions of tablets and PCs in the future, you can see that there is a clear synergy between all those environments. So that presents an interesting opportunity for Nokia.