Steve Ballmer has stated that Microsoft believes that it will see Google as a growing force in desktop operating systems in the coming year – admitting the company is very much focused on Linux, Android and Mac OS X as key rivals.

Ballmer, speaking to Wall Street analysts at a Redmond 'strategic update' briefing, admitted the company sees Google's Android moving to laptops in the coming months, but described Apple's growing market share as 'not necessarily as dramatic as some people think'.

"From a market share perspective in the OS market Windows 'licensed' is number one in the market," said Ballmer.

Windows 'Pirated'

"Number two is Windows 'Pirated' or unlicensed; that's a competitor that's tough to beat because it's at a good price and a heck of a product, but we're working on it.

"Linux and Apple certainly increased share somewhat. You can probably say Apple increased market share in [the] last year by a point or more and a point of market share on a number of 300 million is interesting...

"It's an interesting amount of market share, while not necessarily being as dramatic as people might think, but we're very focused in on both Apple as a competitor and Linux as a competitor.

Linux dynamic

"I think the dynamic with Linux is changing somewhat and I assume we're going to see Android-based and Linux-based laptops in addition to phones.

"We'll see Google more as a competitor in the desktop operating system business than we ever have before.

"The seams between what is a phone operating system and PC operating system will change and so we have ramped investment in client operating systems."

Ballmer's stance is interesting, with the focus on Google showing Microsoft's awareness that Android is not likely to stay in the domain of the mobile phone.

Windows 7 - currently in beta - is garnering positive press, but Microsoft is clearly happy to invest to keep its place as the dominant force in operating systems going forward.