Within a month, Microsoft will unveil what Ballmer called "Windows Cloud." The OS, which will likely have a different name, is intended for developers writing cloud-computing applications, said Ballmer, speaking in London to an auditorium of IT managers at a Microsoft-sponsored conference.
Cloud computing is a term often applied to programs that are presented in a Web browser, but the actual computing is performed at a distant data center.
Ballmer was short on details, saying more information would spoil the announcement. Windows Cloud is a separate project from Windows 7, the OS Microsoft is developing to succeed Windows Vista.
Companies such as Google and Salesforce.com have embraced the concept of delivering software over the Internet, as it can mean lower costs and less maintenance for those who use the applications.
Microsoft, which has built its fortunes on desktop-based software, has been anxious to show it also has plans for adapting its software for the Internet.
Ballmer was quick to point out that Microsoft doesn't envision products such as the Office productivity suite to move entirely off desktop PCs and onto the Internet.