Ballmer: The future lies in smart devices

Ballmer – head in the cloud
Ballmer – head in the cloud

The future of technology will be a smart cloud talking to smart devices, according to Microsoft's Steve Ballmer – who insists that people want powerful devices.

The debate over a simple access device with low-cost hardware – a so-called thin client – versus a more powerful device is still a huge topic of conversation as we move into a cloud computing era.

But Ballmer, speaking at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, says that with people seeking increasingly smartphones and things like TVs getting more connected and more 'computer-like', the writing is on the wall.

Cloud smarts

"The cloud wants smarter devices," said Ballmer, "Many people say, 'Once I move to cloud, I'm only going to use thin clients.'

"I don't believe that at all. I don't believe that the cloud is a place where thin clients will take over, time and time again we have seen the advantage of the rich client.

"We see it today with PCs, with smartphones – and not only Microsoft smartphones but the people we compete with.

"We see it today in the television market, people are trying to bring devices with more intelligence down to the rich client.

"The world of tomorrow is a world of smart clouds talking to smart devices."


Ballmer believes that HTML5, which can take advantage of a device's hardware, is an example of how the rich cloud will work.

"We and the people we compete with may disagree with whose smart client [you'll use]. You'll get a different answer from everybody but HTML5, in fact, which we very much embrace is a form of smart client technology.

"The whole notion is software comes down from the cloud and is executed locally.

"It may execute to a standards-based infrastructure it may take more advantage of intelligence and capability of the client device but rich is the number one path forward."

Patrick Goss

Patrick Goss is the ex-Editor in Chief of TechRadar. Patrick was a passionate and experienced journalist, and he has been lucky enough to work on some of the finest online properties on the planet, building audiences everywhere and establishing himself at the forefront of digital content.  After a long stint as the boss at TechRadar, Patrick has now moved on to a role with Apple, where he is the Managing Editor for the App Store in the UK.