Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer touts innovation, mobile, Windows 8

TYSONS CORNER, Va.–“Windows Phone probably is the product where I’d say we’ve done the best job ever, relative to sales, in our history,” said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, addressing approximately 700 high-tech executives at a meeting of the Northern Virginia Technology Council here. Ballmer said that Windows Phone 7 had a number of significant differences when compared with Apple and Android devices. “Windows Phone is really a platform,” Ballmer said.

“They’re pushing on little icons, accusing each of stealing from the other,” he noted. “Our UI never copied anybody.” Ballmer noted that the different approach to the Windows UI made the phone, and ultimately Windows 8 which uses the same user interface, significantly easier to use than other devices. “We have the big tiles,” he said, “and all you have to do is scroll.”

Ballmer did note that Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) has a ways to go before it approaches sales leadership in the mobile market, however. “We have a lot of work to break through in a competitive market,” he said.

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Sign up for our FREE newsletter for more news like this sent to your inbox!Ballmer said that he has already gone to a strictly paperless, mobile environment for most of his work, although he did say that his office features a huge, 82-inch screen in place of a white board. “I’ve gone paperless,” Ballmer said while hold up a tablet running Windows 8. “Windows 8 is Windows energized,” he said. Ballmer explained live tiles to the audience, only one of whom (this reporter) admitted to having already used Windows 8. Ballmer described features of Windows 8 while a Microsoft employee performed a demonstration on projection screens in the meeting room.

Ballmer also noted that Microsoft’s SkyDrive is really a cloud service for both mobile and wired devices that allows personal, secure storage as well as public sharing. He noted that a critical feature of the new mobile platforms being readied by Microsoft is security. “With the consumerization of IT, security is going to flip from protecting the device to protecting the information,” Ballmer said. “You can’t completely control the device, so we’ve developed information rights management,” he explained. He said that this lets whoever creates a document or other material define who can see it, how they can use it and even how long it lasts.

“I have to use information rights management on everything I create,” Ballmer noted. He said that Microsoft is working on a series of security initiatives that he declined to describe, but he did say that it’s now critical for IT and security to work closely. Ballmer did say that Microsoft is working on helping to find ways to reduce the risk of cyber attacks.

Ballmer also noted that Microsoft has a number of innovations that it’s working on, but that are still in the early stages. “I should be able to just tell my computer to print my boarding pass for my flight to D.C.,” he said, “but right now I can’t.” He said that it should be easier to perform tasks such as telling a computer to gather the information he needs for his next meeting without having to do all of the steps himself. But, he said, “we’re going to make it easier and more agile to create new ideas.”

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