Steve Ballmer confirms that Windows 8 is coming to phones

At today’s Annual Meeting of shareholders, Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer went through the usual spiel on how well the company is doing, despite the stock price (which of course is what shareholders are most interested in).  But then in a question and answer period, when a shareholder asked about being in a “post-PC era”, Ballmer let slip something that we’ve been hearing lots of rumors about, as noted by Business Insider’s Matt Rossoff:

"We are driving Windows down to the phone with Windows 8."

There has been much speculation about Microsoft moving to a single Windows core to drive PCs, tablets, phones, and even Xbox, but up to now nothing has been officially announced about the next versions of Windows Phone.  Of course, with a strong push coming for Windows Phone 7.5 (“Mango”), including the introduction of new Nokia Windows Phones around the world and soon here in the U.S., Microsoft may not be so keen on letting it be known that a new version of Windows Phone may be just around the corner.

Sales of Windows Phones have actually fallen in the last quarter, according to Gartner, and even though there has been a positive buzz about Mango, it has yet to show up in terms of sales.  And while a new unified stable of Windows 8 devices may be quite compelling, it’s not going to do much to boost sales of existing phones.  Can we wait another year (or more) for a unified Windows 8 experience?