Microsoft's chief executive kicked off an international promotional tour for the new Windows 8 operating system in Israel,
announcing that the Xbox 360 video game console will be officially launched in the Jewish state on November 21.
On Monday, Steve Ballmer met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
in Jerusalem and addressed Microsoft's Discovery high-tech conference.
The two discussed Microsoft's commitment to Israel, its major investments in the local market, prompting economic growth through activities on the national level and programs focused on innovative economy, the ability to find jobs, education, etc.
Netanyahu said that "the combination between the State of Israel and Microsoft is natural as the Israeli high-tech industry is a world leader. Microsoft realized Israel's potential years ago and was wise enough to enjoy the fruit of Israel's high-quality manpower.
"Our investment in science-based industries and in training manpower for high-tech will continue bearing successful fruit. I believe that the cooperation between the State of Israel and Microsoft will continue for many more years."
With PM Netanyahu (Photo: Kobi Gideon, GPO)
According to a statement issued by the Prime Minister's office, Ballmer said it was his fourth time in Israel.
He added that he received inspiration from the outstanding ingeniousness of the Israeli public and entrepreneurs, which he said was the main reason for Israel being such an important market for Microsoft.
Before meeting the prime minister, Ballmer sat down with Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz.
Microsoft maintains a large research and development center in Israel, one of its three largest worldwide. Many global tech giants have sizable research operations in the country.
Speaking in Tel Aviv, Ballmer said Microsoft expected its newly launched Windows Phone to become a strong challenger in the smartphone market.
Google's Android and Apple's iPhone devices dominate the smartphone market. However, Microsoft unveiled its Windows 8 products and first tablet computer – the Surface – 10 days ago, and Ballmer said that he expected sales of Windows Phone to grow fast.
"With the work we have done with Nokia, HTC, Samsung and others ... there is now an opportunity to create really a strong third participant in the smartphone market," he said at Microsoft's first Windows 8 launch outside the United States.
"We are still relatively small ... I expect the volumes on Windows Phone to really ramp quickly."
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report