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Windows will never become enterprise-only says Ballmer

CEO Steve Ballmer dismisses suggestions the iPad and other tablets running non-Windows OSs will cause Microsoft to lose control of the consumer market

Windows will never become enterprise-only says Ballmer
Ballmer: Consumers account for two thirds of Windows sales

Microsoft has said that Windows will never be relegated to being an enterprise-only operating system, after analysts raised questions over the company's ability to compete with tablet devices.

Chief executive Steve Ballmer said that consumer sales continued to account for two-thirds of all Windows and Office sales, adding that the company was planning on bringing the OS to tablets in the near future.

He also attacked the perception that Apple 'invented' the tablet market, reminding analysts that Microsoft had been in the tablet market since the start of the millennium. Ballmer, however, did concede that Apple had done an "interesting job", and that the iPad had "sold more than I'd like".

Ballmer placed the blame on there being no Windows-based device competing with the iPad on the shoulders of its hardware partners. The vendor had partnered with HP to launch the company's tablet strategy at this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. However, little has been seen of the its slate device since HP's purchase of Palm.

Analysts believe that HP is preparing to relaunch the Slate running Palm's WebOS operating system rather than Windows. If it does indeed drop all support for Windows on its tablet range, it will be a severe to Microsoft.

Microsoft however was keen to stress that it was pushing ahead with its goal of Windows 7 becoming the defacto tablet operating system. "We've got to push right now with our hardware partners," explained Ballmer. People will say 'when?', I'll say 'As soon as they are read, and it is job-one urgency.' Nobody is sleeping at the switch."

However, several analysts have questioned Windows' suitability in the tablet market, describing it as too complicated, bulky and power-hungry, citing that Apple's success has been down to its decision not put its own 'full' operating system OS X, but to take the devices in a much simpler direction and use its iPhone OS.

Despite that, history is on Microsoft's side. During 2007-08, the company had to fight an uphill struggle against Linux, which had become seen as the defacto OS for netbooks. Less than two years down the line, and most netbooks available in stores run on Windows.

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