8 is the “dawning of the rebirth of Windows,” according to CEO Steve Ballmer. He also called it the “deepest, broadest, and most impactful” version of Windows ever. The man isn’t shy, and has been known to get a little excited about products in the past, but backed up these claims with some estimates.

Ballmer reckons 400 to 500 million people will have Windows 8 next year, whether they buy it new or upgrade, for their PC or tablet. That will make it “the most popular single system,” according to Ballmer. He also reckons 350 million devices running Windows 7 will ship by the end of this year.

Referring to Windows 8, he added: “It’s certainly the most important piece of work we’ve done.” Ballmer was speaking at the Seoul Digital Forum. Cloud gazing He also threw in his thoughts on cloud computing, saying it would come to be dominated by a few big players. “The number of core [cloud] platforms, around which software developers will do their innovation, is not ever-broadening,” he said. “It’s really a quite smaller and focussed number – Windows, various forms of Linux, the ecosystem.”

In three to five years, “there will be just a few ecosystems that really can get the critical mass,” he added. Windows 8 will work on tablets and PCs. It’s expected to boost sales of ultrabooks and other laptops when it goes on sale around October.

Microsoft should finish working on the operating system sometime next month. Last week, Microsoft showed off the new home screen for Windows 8, doing away with the gloss and reflections found in previous incarnations.

8e0e702215470 75.jpg 450x253 Steve Ballmer: Windows 8 is the most important thing weve done

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Steve Ballmer: Windows 8 is ‘the most important thing we’ve done’