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Ballmer's breaking point: Is Windows 8 already too late?

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Radio Reg Steve Ballmer is feeling the heat. Last month, he was so concerned with criticism of his leadership skills, he spilled some Redmond financial results he probably shouldn't have spilled.

"You tell me if I lack energy, conviction or we're not driving change we need to drive," Ballmer roared at Seattle's Rotary Club, before unloading new revenue and profit numbers.

Microsoft was alarmed enough to go around telling journos that Ballmer hadn't just divulged the results. We'll see just how much he gave away come July 21, when Microsoft is scheduled to officially publish its earnings.

Why is Steve so rattled when things are looking up?

Rumor has it that Windows 8 – the first version of Windows for ARM as well as x86 and billed as Microsoft's answer for the PC to iOS and the iPad – will actually ship early: next April. That's quicker than anybody had expected. Plus, Microsoft is putting people in position for a big consumer push for Windows 8, hoping to take the brand battle to Apple.

What's more, Microsoft just floated Office 365, combining Office-like web apps with a multi-tenant version of the company's popular Notes killer Exchange server.

Google was rattled enough to issue a hokey list of talking points about why you shouldn't pick Office 365, when the obvious point speaks for itself: You still need Office on the PC to make it work properly.

In this edition of MicroBite, Reg software editor Gavin Clarke and All About Microsoft blogger Mary-Jo Foley explain how Microsoft could – and why it should – deliver Windows 8 early, and explore the murky side of Office 365 to find out why the CEO of the world's largest software company might risk an orange jump suit by blabbing his financial results.

As ever, you can listen via MP3 here or Ogg Vorbis here. ®

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