During Microsoft’s recent Annual Shareholders Meeting, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told shareholders that Microsoft was now a “devices and services company” and made a few predictions for 2013.

Ballmer said the five big trends of 2013 would be natural user interfaces, machine learning and big data, unlocking application capabilities through the cloud, social networking, and the emergence of a single unified Windows platform across PC, mobile device, server and cloud.

These are the areas highlighted in Ballmer’s Nov. 28 address in his own words:

“The first area is new form factors that have, increasingly, so to speak, ‘natural’ ways to use them — touch, gestures, speech, pen, and handwriting.

“The second big area is making technology more intuitive and able to do what we mean and act on our behalf instead of at our command by using new technologies in the area of what we call machine learning and big data.

“Third is building and running cloud services in ways that unleash incredible new application opportunities for businesses and for individuals.

“Fourth is firmly betting and establishing one platform, Windows, on the PC, the tablet, the phone, the server, the cloud.

“And the last is really to deliver life-changing improvements to people with new scenarios that help us learn, work, play, and socialize with one another. Inventing those new applications, delivering them on these new devices, and sustaining them with the cloud will be key to our future.”

The revisioning is great and it comes at a time when PC sales are flat to declining. The fear by some is that it may be too late.

Vanity Fair, in a famous article, has called Steven Ballmer’s time as CEO of Microsoft “the lost decade” where;

“…it has fallen flat in every arena it entered: e-books, music, search, social networking, etc., etc”

However, in the words of the financial services companies: “Past Performance is No Guarantee of Future Results”, so hopefully Microsoft can complete the pivot implied in Ballmer’s statement and compete effectively in the new “devices” market.

Here’s hoping they do. We’ll see.

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