Ballmer: Windows 8 launch could be bigger than Windows 95

There's no doubt that the last few months of 2012 are going to be pretty big for Microsoft thanks to the incoming launch of Windows 8, but now CEO Steve Ballmer says that the launch of the new OS could be bigger than most of us are expecting. Speaking in a recent interview with The Seattle Times, Ballmer elaborated on his recent comments that 2012 would be the most "epic" year in Microsoft's history, saying that the launch of Windows 8 could eclipse that of Windows 95.

For those who don't remember the launch of Windows 95 all too well (or weren't even around, which is strange thought): it was big. Windows 95 was everywhere when it launched, and it did a lot to make Windows a household name – not easy for a computer operating system in the early-to-mid '90s. Now Ballmer hopes that the launch of Windows 8 can top the historic launch of Windows 95. "You know, Windows 95 was certainly the biggest thing in the last 20 years until now," he said. "I think Windows 8 certainly surpasses it. It's a little hard to compare things like the founding (of the company) and the introduction of the first popular PC and the system that popularized it, but it's at that scale."

Indeed, we're seeing Windows 8 make a lot of changes to the classic Windows formula, perhaps most importantly boasting a touch-friendly design. Can it top the obsession of Windows 95? That's a pretty lofty goal for Microsoft, and it's going to be hard to pull off. With so many manufacturers going all-in with Windows 8, however, and the fact that Windows 8 signals a departure from Windows installments of the past, it just might.

Ballmer also talked a little bit about the pricing for Surface in his interview with The Seattle Times, saying that the "sweet spot" for pricing will probably range from $300 to $700 or $800. That's a pretty broad range, to be sure, and it suggests that Microsoft may not be all that interested in having Surface compete with less expensive 7-inch tablets like the Nexus 7 or the Kindle Fire HD 7. We're still waiting for solid pricing details though, so Ballmer's estimate could change by the time Surface actually arrives. Stay tuned.