Microsoft's Ballmer: Surface Is a Real Business

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Microsoft ( MSFT) boss Steve Ballmer says he's happy with his company's new line of Surface tablets and the family of Windows 8 operating systems.

In a question-and-answer session with the MIT Technology Review, Ballmer says that, despite less-than-stellar early sales numbers, he's "super-glad they did Surface." The CEO added that that the newly integrated hardware and software is "important not just for Microsoft but for the entire Windows ecosystem."

The company's Surface tablets are a "real business", according to Ballmer. "In an environment in which there's 350 million PCs sold, I don't think Surface is going to dominate volume, but it's a real business," he said.

He elaborates:

"We're building new capabilities to give the consumer what the consumer wants. Take pen computing the use of a stylus on a tablet : I think it's fair to say we've been talking about pen computing for years, but it was hard to do that with OEMs who were not equally incentivized. Now we're trying to lead a little bit with Surface Pro.

So, is there a lack of understanding, or in some cases do I wish our execution had been better? I would say the latter. In cases where we've embraced end-user needs and really sort of dived in, like the things that we've done with Kinect and the Xbox, I think we've done a heck of a job."

A large part of Microsoft's overall plan is based on their release of Windows 8 for computers and tablets, Windows RT and Windows Phone 8 Microsoft's new software "ecosystem" which extends to everything from servers to smartphones.

But Windows 8 has not been wildly embraced by reviewers. That's especially true of computer expert Simpson Garfinkel, who, writing in the same MIT Technology Review calls the newly-overhauled operating system "a computer science masterpiece trapped inside a user interface kerfuffle."

In his review of the multi-interface software, Garfinkel notes that "Windows 8 gets a lot right, but Microsoft's determination to offer computer and mobile users the same interface makes the operating system somewhat weird."

--Written by Gary Krakow in New York.

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Gary Krakow is TheStreet's senior technology correspondent.