Ballmer Promises That Microsoft Won't Cheat Its PC Partners

steve ballmer microsoft tablet

Photo: AP

Steve Ballmer is clearly trying to do some damage control with its partners that make Windows PCs.Now that Microsoft will be selling its own Surface tablet to compete with them, there are questions to answer, Ballmer admitted in an interview with CRN.

First off, he wants them to know that the Surface probably won’t be a runaway hit anyway. 

“There will be 375 million PCs sold. I think it is probably fair to say that we are not going to sell a super-high percentage of the 375 [million],” he told CRN.

He believes that Microsoft will sell “a few million” Surface tablets.

PC makers also want to know three things, he told CRN:

1) Is Microsoft giving its own tablet some kind of secret advantage with Windows 8 than it is giving other PC makers?

No, he says. He promises that Microsoft is giving them the same Windows software to PC makers as it is using itself. 

PC makers have a reason to worry. Microsoft had used secret tricks to make its own software, like Microsoft Office, work better on Windows. It didn’t share those tricks with other Windows developers. The European Union slapped Microsoft with a $1.8 billion fine over the issue back in 2008.

2) Will Microsoft undercut Windows PC makers on price, given that it doesn’t have to pay a fee for Windows? 

Ballmer vaguely promised to “handle things so that things are appropriate in that dimension.” 

Microsoft will likely sell itself Windows — crediting the Windows division with revenue for each Surface sold. Then again, if it needs to drop the price on its tablets, Microsoft can give itself a price break on Windows.

3) Will the Windows team leak confidential information about competitive PCs to the Surface team?

Ballmer says absolutely not.

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