Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said there's no fundamental difference between Apple's hot-selling iPad tablet and the workaday, Windows-powered personal computers hawked by his company.
Asked if he considers the iPad a PC, Ballmer said, "Of course it is!"
Ballmer, who spoke at the D8 conference in Southern California Thursday was interviewed by veteran Wall Street Journal tech columnist Walt Mossberg. In response to Mossberg's question, Ballmer said the iPad—which Apple has sold more than 2 million of in the past 60 days—is merely "a different form factor PC."
That might come as news to Steve Jobs, who has labeled the device "magical."
But Ballmer said any device that consumers use to send e-mails, surf the Web, and create documents is, at the end of the day, a PC.
And in a jab at the iPad's limited functionality, Ballmer said not all "PCs" are created equal. "A guy tried to take notes on one in a meeting with me yesterday—that was fun," said Ballmer. "The meeting didn't go very fast," he quipped.
Ballmer's remarks were meant to reassure the market that, in the view of Microsoft's CEO, there'll always be a demand for plain vanilla computers—particularly those that run Windows.
"There will be general purpose devices in the world that let you participate in consumption, in entertainment, in interaction," said Ballmer.
Ballmer was clearly attempting to mitigate at least some of the buzz surrounding the iPad, which Apple released on April 3rd and which has quickly become one of the hottest selling devices in the history of the tech industry.
He said it's understandable that Apple is attempting to create a new computing category, given the fact that the Mac holds a mere 6% of the PC market, compared to Windows' 91% stake.
"It wouldn't surprise me to see the competition try to eliminate the role of what they've had that hasn't been popular," Balllmer said.