Ina Fried

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Ballmer: 500,000 Downloads of Windows 8 Since Last Night

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer made a surprise appearance at Microsoft’s developer conference on Tuesday, touting the importance of the company’s forthcoming Windows 8 operating system.

Ballmer noted the early enthusiasm for the product — 500,000 copies of the operating system have been downloaded since last night, he said. However, he said the company still has a lot of work to do.

“We still have a long way to go with Windows 8,” Ballmer said, noting that while much of the core operating system is in place, the company still is working on the services that will accompany Windows 8 as well as the efforts to bring it to ARM-based systems.

“It’s not going to be Intel or ARM,” he said. “It’s going to be Intel and ARM.”

Ballmer said there are all kinds of opportunities in technology, from cloud-based services to new types of devices.

“Our approach to these new opportunities is centered in Windows,” Ballmer said. “It’s not about doing something else. It’s about broadly re-imagining Windows.”

From there, Ballmer launched into a broader speech on the company’s efforts, talking about the work on Windows Phone, Windows Live and other areas of the company. Ballmer promised that the company is looking to find ways to open other of its cloud services, including Bing and Office 365, to developers.

“We’re retooling all of what we do,” Ballmer said. “To me this all adds up to an unprecedented time of opportunity for developers.”

Ballmer also tried to rally developers to put more energy on Windows even amidst a plethora of other platforms in the smartphone and tablet worlds. Windows, he noted, will ship on 350 million PCs this year.

“There is no phone, there is nothing on the tablet, there is no operating system on the planet that will ship 350 million units of anything other than Windows,” he said.

Though not announced, Ballmer’s appearance at the Build developer conference makes sense since he is due to address financial analysts later today. His talk came during a highly technical session focused on cloud services, developer tools and the server version of Windows 8.

Ballmer wrapped up his appearance by making the case that there is great opportunity for developers if they join with Microsoft in heading in some new directions.

“Let’s move forward,” he said. “Let’s seize the opportunity for ‘developers developers developers’

He did not, however, reprise his infamous “Monkey Boy” dance.

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