Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer acknowledges that sales of Redmond's rapidly evolving Windows Phone 7 have been somewhat lackluster thus far.
"We haven't sold quite as many [handsets] as I would have liked in the first year," Ballmer confirmed during a financial analyst meeting in a statement quoted by AllThingsD.
However, the CEO emphasized he remained quite pleased with the reaction to the OS from both partners and developers - insisting Redmond was making steady progress by optimizing browsing and DirectX graphics on the platform.
"I'm not saying I love where we are but I am very optimistic on where we can be," he said. "We've just got to kick this thing to the next level."
According to Ballmer, Microsoft has managed to create a "very strong third ecosystem" that offers a viable alternative to Google's Android and Apple's iOS, all while tying up a lucrative deal with Nokia to support the next generation of Mango-powered WP7 phones.
"With Nokia we have a dedicated hardware partner that is all-in on Windows Phones... They are not doing something on Android or [any other operating system]," he added.
Ballmer's optimism about Windows Phone 7 is hardly unfounded or unrealistic, as a number of analysts, including senior IDC researcher Ramon Llamas, believe WP7 is likely to benefit from Nokia's "support, scope, and breadth" within markets where the Finnish-based company has historically maintained a strong presence.
"Assuming Nokia's transition to Windows Phone goes smoothly, the OS is expected to defend a number 2 rank and more than 20% share in 2015," he predicted.