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Microsoft CEO promises Windows 8 in 2012, 500 new features for Windows Phone 7

May 23, 2011 |  4:57 pm

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Windows 8 for desktop computers and tablets will ship in 2012, and an upcoming Windows Phone 7 update will include 500 new features, Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer said Monday at a developers conference in Japan.

Ballmer made the announcement in a speech, shortly after expressing his condolences to Japan about the earthquake and tsunami that struck the nation in March.

"It's been 18 months since my last trip in Japan, which in my whole 30 years of working for Microsoft is the longest period of time between visits in Japan," Ballmer said in his speech. "Microsoft is very committed to Japan. We're celebrating 25 years this year, 25 years of Microsoft business in Japan. And to all of the developers in the room, I say: Thank you very much for the support and for the partnership."

Ballmer said that Japan is home to Microsoft's second-largest subsidiary and that Microsoft is looking to Japan to help the company be competitive in areas where it "is committed to investing and innovating and leading."

One of the areas Microsoft wants to lead is "natural user interface" -- using speech, gestures and touch to control computers. Microsoft has had success with its Kinect motion-sensing camera for its Xbox 360 video game console, but it has yet to release a major consumer tablet offering, which would rely on a touch-screen-oriented version of Windows.

Ballmer expressed frustration about having released Windows Phone 7 to the market last fall.

"Another big sort of effort for us in terms of transforming the future of communication is the Windows Phone," he said. "We came to market with Windows Phone about a year later than I wish we had, shame on us.

"But we're moving forward very actively. We launched Windows Phones last November. We've done a set of upgrades. We have a release that will come to market later this year in Japan. Not only is it a new release that is now much more global, but we've added over 500 new features to Windows Phone."

Not long after that, Ballmer turned his attention to what Microsoft is doing on Windows 8.

"Windows 7 PCs will sell over 350 million units this year," Ballmer said. "We've done a lot in Windows 7 to improve customer satisfaction. We have a brand-new user interface. We've added touch and ink and speech. And yet, as we look forward to the next generation of Windows systems, which will come out next year, there's a whole lot more coming. As we progress through the year, you ought to expect to hear a lot about Windows 8. Windows 8 slates, tablets, PCs, a variety of different form factors."

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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

twitter.com/nateog

Photo: Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer in San Francisco on May 10. Credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

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