Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer in Bellevue this morning.

Where did Steve Ballmer mean for the period to go? Wherever it was, Microsoft says its CEO didn’t mean to imply that Windows 8 would be coming to phones.

Welcome to the strange aftermath of Microsoft’s annual shareholder meeting, where Ballmer this morning made a comment that sounded to some listeners like he let slip that Windows 8 — the next version of Microsoft’s tablet and desktop operating system — would be coming to mobile phones.

Here’s how Matt Rosoff of Business Insider and some GeekWire readers (listening to the webcast) heard the remark.

“We’ve got broad Windows initiatives, driving Windows down to the phone with Windows 8. You’ll see incredible new form factors powered by Windows from tablets, small, large, pens, smaller, bigger, room-sized displays.”

Here’s how I initially heard it. Note the big difference that the placement of the period makes.

“We’ve got broad Windows initiatives driving Windows down to the phone. With Windows 8, you’ll see incredible new form factors powered by Windows from tablets, small, large, pens, smaller, bigger, room-sized displays.”

Listen to the clip below, and you can hear how it’s open to interpretation. But for the record, Microsoft says the second version above is what Ballmer meant, and Windows 8 isn’t coming to phones.

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  • Guest

    I’m not quite sure why they’re walking this back publicly, since privately they’re telling close dev partners the real story, that win8/8.5 will be the one unifying OS for desktop/tablet/phone, using a common (non-silverlight) toolset (with some customization for variations in display/input of course).

  • Guest

    Unlike most, I understand what Steve was saying. Much like Apple shares most of the underpinnings of its operating systems (Mac OS X Server, Mac OS X, and iOS), so too does Microsoft with its various operating systems (Windows Server, Windows, Windows Embedded, Windows Mobile, and I could go on). This is common practice in engineering and I fail to see what is so confusing or upsetting about Steve speaking with the language of an engineer.

    • Guest

      I can only assume they were fearful of the marketing impact/spin of saying (in effect) “Coming Soon:Windows8 for phones”.  Maybe they think it will negatively impact sales of WinPho7/7.5 in the marketplace and Osborne their partner nokia?

      Makes no sense.  Just come out and say it and we can all move on.  It’s not like its a secret.

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