Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer isn’t scared of competing desktop platforms, and believes that Microsoft’s Windows operating system will always have a place in the market. During a shareholder’s meeting in Seattle on Tuesday, Ballmer answered a question from one investor who asked whether or not society has entered a post-PC era. Generally, a “post-PC era” is defined as one where consumers have gravitated away from desktop and laptop computers and towards mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones, but whoever asked the question clearly wanted to know whether or not Microsoft believes it can remain relevant in the future. “We are in the Windows era — we are, and we always will be,” Ballmer replied. “We are driving Windows down to the phone with Windows 8. Through the power of Windows, the PC will be a tablet machine, will be a reading machine, will be a note-taking machine.” Microsoft hasn’t been particularly successful creating consumer-friendly tablets in the past but that will be a large part of its focus with Windows 8. The first Windows 8 devices, which will include desktops, all-in-one PCs, laptops and tablets, are expected to begin to hit the market in late 2012.