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July 10, 2012

Microsoft Purchases Touchscreen Company, Looks Forward to Windows 8

By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor

Microsoft (News - Alert) is apparently getting involved in the manufacturing of touchscreen displays, according to CEO Steve Ballmer. The executive announced yesterday that the Redmond, Washington-based company plans to buy Perceptive Pixel Inc, a six-year-old developer of large touchscreen displays whose customers include cable network CNN and several other reputable entities.

Perceptive Pixel was founded in 2006 and shipped its first multitouch workstations and large wall displays in 2007, according to the company website, which claims it has “transformed the way CNN covered the historic 2008 U.S. Presidential election.”

“This is an epic year,” Ballmer told more than 16,000 business partners at a conference in Toronto. “It's a year of unparalleled opportunity.”

Microsoft could use a little good news as well as a little opportunity.

Last week, the company announced it will be forced to absorb about $6.2 billion as a way of correcting the problematic purchase of aQuantive (News - Alert), an online advertising service for which Microsoft shelled out $6.3 billion back in 2007, positioning it to compete with Google in the online ad business.

Needless to say, the investment didn't exactly work out. The purchase of aQuantive was Microsoft's priciest purchase to date until the company bought Skype last year for $8.5 billion.

In addition to making the purchase of Perceptive Pixel, the company will soon launch its first “Surface” tablets, a new version of Office and revamped phone software. It will also deploy the latest version of its Windows operating system (Windows 8) in October. According to Ballmer, this will be the most important launch for Microsoft since Windows 95. 

So will all this help put the company into a position to challenge rivals Google and Apple (News - Alert)?

“Not only will every major product enter a new wave, but by the end of the year we will know if Microsoft's Windows 8 bet, which folds tablets and PCs together, will be a boom or bust for the company,” IDC analyst Al Hilwa told Reuters (News - Alert).

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Edited by Braden Becker
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