Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer said Wednesday that the technology giant that built a fortune with packaged software is betting the future of computing is in the Internet “cloud.” Cloud computing gained momentum during the economic downturn as people and businesses saved money by using applications hosted online instead of buying, installing and maintaining software on their own machines. Microsoft sees cloud computing as playing roles in its investments in personal computers, smartphones, and Internet-enabled television. The Internet cloud will “fuse the best of what we think of as the phone, the PC, the TV, the Internet and the corporate data-center,” he said. Ballmer cited as an example the company’s Project Natal technology that promises to imbue Microsoft Xbox 360 videogame consoles with facial recognition and natural gesture control capabilities. Cloud computing enhances social interaction with online services such as Facebook and Twitter, and enables software to learn from feedback as in the cases of automated spell checks or locations on map programs.