Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has never been one to mince words, and he’s at it again with his latest letter to shareholders. In it, he notes that Microsoft is in the middle of a “fundamental shift” in strategy, and warns advisors to begin to expect Microsoft to begin producing their own “specific devices for specific purposes”. If that doesn’t ring any bells to you, it should – it means Microsoft is looking to become more of a hardware company.
Microsoft has historically often produced hardware, including the original XBox, the XBox 360, the Zune series of MP3 players, and especially computer accessories, but prior to now Microsoft has always avoided competing with their OEMs in many core areas. The Microsoft Surface is the very beginning of this strategic shift for Microsoft, not the end. This should be a warning to all OEMs – Microsoft is about to put the pressure on.