Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has acknowledged that Redmond faces an uphill (if not Sisyphean) battle to promote its Windows Phone 7 platform in the crowded mobile marketplace.
Ballmer, speaking at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Florida, also confessed that Windows Phone 7 should have launched in 2009.
"We [certainly] have a lot of work to do to get back into the game," Ballmer admitted in a statement quoted by the Wall Street Journal.
Nevertheless, Ballmer expressed confidence that Microsoft's mobile products would be capable of "withstanding" the competition, as there was still room in the marketplace for "innovation."
In addition, Ballmer claimed that Windows Phone 7 was (potentially) poised to become Microsoft's next $1 billion market.
Although the CEO didn't specify if Windows-based tablets would hit the streets by the holiday season, he did confirm that hardware partners were manufacturing "interesting new form factors with Windows" - including devices without keyboards - that should be available by Christmas.
"People want the same things at work that they have at home, whether it comes from us or our competition. Cool starts at home," he added.