Steve Ballmer Declares Microsoft is "Back In It" With Knockoffs of Apple Devices He Once Mocked

Microsoft's oft-perspiring CEO Steve Ballmer once guffawed at the iPhone and dismissed the iPad, which makes the news out of Microsoft's annual tech conference in Washington, D.C. this week all the more ironic. Ballmer says his company is going after the device market where Apple has ruled supreme with MSFT's awkwardly named, iPhone-resembling device and a to-be-unveiled "slate" that brings to mind, well, the iPad.

In 2007, when asked about his first reaction to the iPhone, Ballmer laughed and responded: "I said that is the most expensive phone in the world and it doesn't appeal to business customers because it doesn't have a keyboard."

Later that year he told USA Today: "I want to have products that appeal to everybody."

His sentiments about the iPad were similarly dismissive. "A guy tried to take notes on [an iPad] in a meeting with me yesterday," Ballmer said at a tech conference last month. "That was fun. The meeting didn't go real fast."

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Anyone else having a touch of deja vu?
Ballmer now admits to the Washington Post that Microsoft "just didn't execute well" with regard to new devices. "Now we are jamming hard. We'll sell millions of units this year," he added.

And what are those units Microsoft will sell millions of? "With Windows Phone 7, we are back in it," Ballmer told the Post. The phones have a sleek, black design, touch screen, and um, no separate keyboard. Sound familiar?

Ballmer also announced that Microsoft would be unveiling "slate" computers meant to challenge the iPad. Ballmer called the slates "a terribly important area for us."

Maybe next time Ballmer can skip the show of turning his nose up at Apple and just go straight to the part where Microsoft starts desperately trying to develop a competitor.

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