In case you missed it, The Seattle Times on Sunday ran an interview I did with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
We didn’t have space to include everything. Among the things we had to leave out is this bit with Ballmer confirming that the Surface tablet — Microsoft’s first foray into its own branded computing device — will indeed be sold in the 32 pop-up stores that Microsoft had announced earlier this month. (It had been widely expected that that would be the case but the company hadn’t said so specifically before this.)
Here’s more from the interview with Ballmer that we didn’t get to include in the Sunday article. The Q&A has been edited for length.
On Surface tablets:
Q: Are you going to be selling the Surface at the pop-up stores?
A: We are, absolutely. As well as (at) our online store and then all the physical stores that we have in place.
Q: How will you judge the success of the Surface? Will you judge by the number of units sold or whether it spurs OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) to create more innovative form factors?
A: Yes and yes. They both have to happen.
Q: Do you have any target number in mind?
A: Not that we share.
On Windows Phone 8:
Q: What is Microsoft’s plan if Windows 8 doesn’t take off? If Windows Phone 8 isn’t successful, how does the company then plan to get a toehold in mobile?
On stack ranking:
Q: What I hear sometimes from people is that that system pits them against each other so they’re less likely to share information with each other.
A: I don’t think that’s right. People who are unhappy will say that but I don’t actually think that’s right. … If you want to tell somebody they’re good, you’re going to tell somebody. I mean, if you want to differentiate in any way — whether it’s our system or any other system — if you want to tell somebody they’re doing a better job than somebody else, then I guess that’s part of the byproduct… The people who are performing need to know.
I also think people are used to this. It’s not like going to school doesn’t condition you to a system where people are going to get graded. There’s always a top and a middle and a bottom of the grading curve in school. So it’s not like it’s the first time people have seen this in life.
The Q&A that ran in the Sunday paper — in which Ballmer discusses possible Surface pricing and the future of Microsoft — can be found here.
(Photo of Steve Ballmer by Ellen Banner / The Seattle Times. Photo of Surface from Microsoft.)