Microsoft's flamboyant chief executive Steve Ballmer was at the London School of Economics (LSE) Tuesday morning and was full of enthusiasm for all things Microsoft, as you may expect. But he also revealed some interesting insights and opinions on a number of areas.
Speaking with a level of bombast not usual seen before 9am, Ballmer first discussed the rise and benefits of cloud computing, but also made reference to the possibility of tablet devices running on Windows being available before the end of the year.
"You'll see slates [tablets] with Windows on them - you'll see them this Christmas and you'll see them continue to change and evolve," he said.
He didn't say if this device would be developed by Microsoft or third-party developers using the Windows platform. They could well be from the Redmond firm, however, as in July Ballmer had said Microsoft was developing a tablet to compete with Apple.
V3.co.uk emailed Ballmer to ask him for more information on this - he gave out his email during the presentation, it's [email protected], if you're interested - but we've yet to receive a reply. Sure it's just saved in his outbox ready to go.
Update: Ballmer did reply to us, read all about it here.
Commenting on the smartphone market and the imminent launch of Windows Phone 7 , Ballmer seemed to suggest he himself would return to London for the world launch of the platform and said he had high hopes for its reception from users.
"I think with our new Windows phone that when we launch people will look at them and say wow," he said, perhaps obviously as he is the chief executive.
No doubt he will be hoping users start slipping new devices running the platform in their pockets quickly as recent mobile failings left Ballmer out of pocket to the tune of $670,000.
Responding to a question from a student up impressively early on his thoughts about the risk China poses due to piracy, Ballmer said he was worried about the level of the threat emanating from the country, arguing it was far worse than other nations.
"Piracy in China is eight times worse than in India and 20 times worse than in UK. Enforcement of the law needs to be stepped up," he said.
"I think the Chinese government hears the message as ultimately it's a problem for Chinese companies too as if they are going to become innovative they need to have IP [intellectual property]."
Ballmer also revealed that there had been dissention within the company about the creation of in-private browsing on the firm's latest versions of Internet Explorer (IE).
"[It] was a little controversial inside Microsoft at the time and there's a whole ecosystem of the internet that wasn't really happy with the decision but at the end of the day privacy has to be a decision users get to make on their own behalf," he said.
Privacy was a key topic Ballmer touched on throughout his talk, possibly to emphasise the firm's difference from Google after its privacy issues. Regarding Google, Ballmer also conveniently forgot to answer a question on his view of how Google's Chrome operating system could hurt Microsoft.
What he did answer though, with trademark enthusiasm, was that his favourite Xbox Kinect game is, "Beach volley ball, baby!"
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