Is Microsoft a brand you can trust?

Steve “Balmy” Ballmer fervently believes that Microsoft is a special kind of brand that “means something” to people. Apple? Meh, not so much.

“I think the problem, if you don’t have a minimum kind of standard..the brand [really] means nothing [at all] to the user,” Ballmer said during a recent interview with CNET’s Ina Fried.

“[Now], our brand means something to the user. It means something to the developer. It implies a certain level of consistency and high quality, which I think is important for Windows Phone [7].

“[And] I think you clearly have a lot more variety than Apple has. [Because] there’s really only one choice in the Apple world.”

Ballmer also reiterated that Redmond was hard at work prepping a Windows-based tablet to take on Club Cupertino’s wildly successful iPad.

“[Clearly], someone who wants to sit and do an interview and take notes and scroll around, they are unlikely to find [the iPad] very comfortable. It doesn’t stand up on its own. It doesn’t have a big screen and keyboard.

“[So], like I said, you will see a set of things from our partners, essentially around the holidays. And then they will get an enhancement [next year] from Intel, which will be very valuable, as we get their next generation Oak Trail processors. It’s also an important part of our road map.