Microsoft CEO Ballmer: Devices, devices, devices!

In case you didn't get the memo -- or CEO Steve Ballmer's latest shareholder letter -- Microsoft officially is a devices and services company now.

Microsoft really wants to make sure its shareholders, customers, partners and competitiors realize it's not just a big software company any more.

microsoftannualreport

In an October 9 letter to shareholders, part of Microsoft's just-released fiscal 2012 annual report, CEO Steve Ballmer repeated his new "devices and services company" mantra to drive it home.

Ballmer hasn't (yet) chanted "devices, devices, devices" in front of any public or private audiences (that we know of, at least) in the way he once infamously chanted "developers, developers, developers."

But Ballmer told The Seattle Times a few weeks back that Microsoft can and should be considered a devices and services company. The latest Ballmer shareholder letter re-emphasizes that message.

From the letter:

"Last year in this letter I said that over time, the full value of our software will be seen and felt in how people use devices and services at work and in their personal lives. This is a significant shift, both in what we do and how we see ourselves — as a devices and services company. It impacts how we run the company, how we develop new experiences, and how we take products to market for both consumers and businesses. The work we have accomplished in the past year and the roadmap in front of us brings this to life."

The Ballmer shareholder letter also claimed again that Microsoft is still counting on its partners to produce business and consumer devices and hardware that customers want. But it's clear Microsoft isn't getting into the hardware game on a lark or just to incent its OEMs to make more well-designed products, as some company watchers and partners have said.

Ballmer noted that, going forward, Microsoft plans to continue to focus on the development of "new form factors that have increasingly natural ways to use them including touch, gestures and speech."

Along with the Xbox, the Microsoft Surface -- which Microsoft described as "a series of Microsoft-designed and manufactured hardware devices" in its latest proxy statement (also released today) -- are here to stay and seemingly will include more products as part of the family.

Update: ZDNet's Ed Bott, in crystal ball mode back in July of this year , predicted a good bit of this Microsoft services/device  (r)evolution.

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