Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has said that Windows 8, the company’s next version of its operating system, will be the “dawning of Windows slates” at the company’s annual Worldwide Partners Conference.

Ballmer took to the stage to talk all things Microsoft - including the admission that Windows Phone 7 sales are still small. He said of the new OS:

"Windows 8 really does represent a true re-imagining of Windows PCs and the dawning of Windows slates."

But it’s not all future, future, future. He also used the conference to confirm that the company had sold over 400 million Windows 7 licences around the world, as well as finding time to take a pop at Apple and Linux:

"We're selling a lot of Windows and we've got a lot of competition in the business. 350 million new PCs sold [in the last year]. That might compare with numbers from other guys that are in the 20 million range," he said. "Now, 20 is too much, but 350, the last time I checked, is a lot more than 20."

Apple has reportedly sold around 15.5m laptops in the last year.

Those looking for stacks of new information about the next version of Windows, however, will be disappointed to hear there wasn’t really anything new.

Tim Reller, corporate vice president and CFO, Windows & Windows Live, also took to the stage to recap what those closely following the release already know - that Windows 8 will play nice with touchscreen tablets as well as desktop and laptop computers.

The next announcement about Windows 8 will be at Microsoft’s BUILD conference in September, said Reller.

Ballmer finished his speech by saying:

“Windows is the backbone product of Microsoft. Windows PCs, Windows Phones, Windows slates. Windows Windows Windows Windows Windows.”