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“No Stone Unturned”: Microsoft Declares All-Out Apple War

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But its not just the iPad market the software giant is looking to capture in its reinvention bid – Seattle are going hell-for leather on cloud, hardware and software, boss Steve Ballmer declared Monday.

This comes just weeks after Microsoft unveiled its first own branded “Surface” tablet, running Windows 8 – Microsoft’s save-our-souls platform due for release in October.

“We are trying to make absolutely clear we are not going to leave any space uncovered to Apple,” Microsoft Chief Steve Ballmer told CRN in an interview this week.

“Not the consumer cloud. Not hardware software innovation. We are not leaving any of that to Apple by itself. Not going to happen. Not on our watch.”

The interview took place after Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference in Toronto on Monday.

The Windows creator who has been left behind in the tablet revolution instigated by Apple’s iPad in 2010, now feels “empowered” to bring its innovation to the table, Ballmer said. And about time many would argue.

“We do feel empowered to innovate everywhere and bring our partners with us,” he added.

But in a very telling comment he also made clear his company’s tablet strategy – take the partners and run.

“We are going to focus on Surface and our other Windows 8 Tablet partners and see if we can go make something happen.”

Several major brands including Samsung, Asus and Acer are all set to release Windows 8 based tabs, as well as Ultrabooks, notebooks, who currently run Android OS for tabs.

Some vendors are even suggesting they may drop Android if Windows takes off.

So, after it unveiled the Surface tablet, is a Microsoft branded smartphone on the way?

“We’ll see what happens,” was Ballmer’s reply, citing its good partners Nokia and Taiwanese company HTC, who released a Windows Titan device.

He also admitted the surprise “Surface” announcement last month was a quick attempt to get a foothold in the tablet market and basically get it “out the door.”

There will be several versions of Surface – the first a consumer tab running Windows RT with ARM microchips, while another version will run the full Windows 8 on Intel Ivy Bridge chips.

On Monday, Microsoft said Windows 8 will go on sale in late October, US users will be able to upgrade from older version of Windows to the new software for as low as $39.

Australian customers using Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 can upgrade for just 14.95 via software download.