It may have had hit-or-miss success with the endeavor in the past, but according to a recent letter to shareholders from CEO Steve Ballmer, Microsoft is looking to dedicate itself more to the hardware front.
In the letter, Ballmer outlines a “significant shift” in the company’s efforts towards what he calls “devices and services.” The most obvious example here is the upcoming Surface tablet, which Microsoft will be releasing at midnight after the launch of Windows 8, and it’s intended to show off the best aspects of the OS.
It’s true that some of Microsoft’s home-brewed devices like Xbox 360 have seen great success, but other hardware efforts from the company like the Kin and the Zune were failures. So Microsoft appears to want to take a more focused approach from here on out; it’s devices like the Surface and Xbox 360 to which Ballmer is referring to in his letter when he explains that the company will occasionally build “specific devices for specific purposes.”
But Ballmer is quick to reassure other hardware manufacturers that Microsoft has teamed up with — like Samsung, Nokia, and HTC — that the company will continue to “work with a vast ecosystem of partners to deliver a broad spectrum of Windows PCs, tablets, and phones.” Similarly, he made clear that Microsoft has no intention of completely abandoning software development or anything of the like; rather, the company simply intends to approach it with a different perspective.
It’s worth mentioning that Microsoft’s shift in focus towards devices and services lends credence to previous rumors that the company has its own Surface smartphone in the works. This would, of course, qualify as a “specific device for a specific purpose,” as it could serve as a flagship device meant to show off the greatest aspects of Microsoft’s upcoming mobile OS, Windows Phone 8.