Microsoft just wrapped up one of its most key events for the year, the official unveiling of the second generation Surface slates. But the company also had an equally interesting event a few days back.

The company held its financial analyst meeting late last week.

And Redmond let fly all sorts of numbers, statistics, views and promises. CEO Steve Ballmer, on the other hand, also had a regret to share — the outgoing head of Redmond admitted forthrightly during the meeting that Microsoft has a pretty minor share in the mobile sector.

The reason for this has finally come out: Windows Vista.

Ballmer has been pretty frank in conceding that Vista was the biggest flop in Microsoft’s illustrated operating system history. And according to the CEO, this particular version of Windows had a significant part to play in Microsoft’s recent missteps.

Talking to the audience, Ballmer explained:

“If there’s one thing I guess you would say I regret, I regret that there was a period in the early 2000s when we were so focused on what we had to do around Windows, that we weren’t able to redeploy talent to the new device form factor called the phone.

That would probably the thing I would tell you I regret the most, because the time we missed was about the time we were working away on what became Vista, and I wish we’d probably had our resources slightly differently deployed, let me say, during the early 2000s. It would have been better for Windows and probably better for our success in other form factors.”

In fewer words it can be said that Microsoft was investing so much at the start of the 2000s into Windows (more so Windows Vista because it was such a complicated undertaking) that it neglected other markets — the fledging mobile market in particular.

With retirement now on the horizon, Ballmer has become rather nostalgic, it must be said. But at least he has rounded up the troops with his One Microsoft philosophy.

It will just take a while for things to settle and pick up once the reorganization is finally complete.

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  • DCJason

    At least he is honest about it!

    • Onuora Amobi

      Yeah… he sure has become really candid recently…

  • Ray C

    People give Balmer too much of a bad wrap. I think he doesn’t get enough credit for some of the work he’s done. I do agree that Gates probably wouldn’t have let Microsoft get into mobile so late because he was talking about it before ANYONE in tech was. The question is whether he would have made the drastic shift Microsoft needed to make even if he’d focused on Mobile sooner. Would he have continued to try to pattern phone and tablet after the versions of Windows that were out at the time, or would he have made the changes that needed to be made, which have now led to Windows 8.x. The products before didn’t have an OS tailor-made for phones and tablets.