Ballmer's new chant: Numbers, numbers, numbers

Microsoft may no longer be the biggest tech company, but CEO makes case to partners with big sales numbers

Microsoft lost its title as the world's biggest tech company this year with Apple surging ahead in market cap, profit and revenue.

Yet Microsoft still has ammo in the numbers department to take shots at its biggest rival, and many others, besides.

[ Related: Buy Windows 7 today, keep same PC for Windows 8 upgrade ]

CEO Steve Ballmer focused heavily on numbers proving rapid adoption of Microsoft technology -- with the exception of Windows Phone 7 -- on Monday as the company's Worldwide Partner Conference kicked off in Los Angeles.

Windows 7 has sold 400 million licenses in less than two years, Office 2010 has sold more than 100 million licenses, 50,000 businesses have trialed Office 365 since the cloud service's launch two weeks ago, Windows Server locked up 75% of quarterly hardware shipments, and usage of the Bing search engine has tripled in the past year.

The only disappointment Ballmer mentioned was Windows Phone 7, but he claimed the future is bright.

"Phones: We've gone from very small to very small but it's been a heck of a year," Ballmer said. "You're going to see a lot of progress in that market."

With Nokia betting the farm on Windows Phone 7, and more than 20,000 applications built for the platform in the last eight months, Ballmer pointed to analyst predictions that Windows Phone 7 will eventually outsell the iPhone and trail only Android.

"Gartner and IDC both did predictions this year, saying Windows Phone would be the No. 2 phone in the market by 2015," he said.

Ballmer didn't detail numbers for Windows Azure, which lags cloud rivals such as Amazon EC2.

But he expressed excitement about Bing, Microsoft's answer to Google's search engine. The Bing site itself grew U.S. market share by three points, moving up to 14.1% this year, he said. Adding in Yahoo, which now powers its search results with Bing, Microsoft is "collectively serving 30% of the search needs of users here in the U.S.," he said.

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