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Microsoft CEO at CES Says Tally of Windows RT Apps Surge

Microsoft Corp. Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer, in a surprise appearance at a technology trade show in Las Vegas, said the number of applications for new Windows tablets has increased fivefold since late October.

There are four times more applications for Windows RT computers now than there were when the device was introduced in late October, Ballmer said yesterday at the International Consumer Electronics Show. He said that more apps -- including Twitter Inc., Dropbox Inc. and Time Warner Inc.’s CNN -- are coming.

Ballmer is striving to drum up interest in the latest flavor of Microsoft’s flagship operating system while he plays catch-up to Apple Inc. in the $63.2 billion market for tablets. Early demand for some Windows tablets has appeared “disappointing,” according to analysts at FBR Capital Markets.

The availability of a broad range of apps is crucial for luring customers to mobile devices such as tablets. In December alone, the number of new apps reached 10,000, Ballmer said. Among them: Expedia Inc., Fitbit Inc. and AOL Inc.’s Huffington Post.

Microsoft said in late 2011 that Ballmer’s address at the 2012 CES would be the company’s last keynote. He appeared yesterday during a presentation by Qualcomm Inc. CEO Paul Jacobs.

Microsoft sold five times more Windows Phone devices during the week of Christmas than the same period a year earlier, Ballmer said. He didn’t give specific numbers.

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