Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer followed Gates at the mid-market strategy event in Redmond. He gave a rambling history of Microsoft’s mid-market expedition, including the realization that the company has too many products to sell to too few people in the mid-market. Now the goal is to provide a complete solution for the mid-market by taking "all of these parts of technology and making them work harder for the IT person and other roles," Ballmer said. "We will bring some of simplicity of a product like Office or Windows to the broad IT needs of mid-market customer."
As in other spaces, Ballmer said the company would exercise a certain patience and tenacity, and keep after it until things get right. Given Ballmer views the mid-market as a major revenue source in the coming years, the resources will be marshalled. But it will be a tough slog—there are a lot of moving parts and old code that needs to be refashioned into a ‘dynamic’ whole to meet the 2008 deadline.
Ballmer also noted two essential elements of the new, more friendly Open Value licensing strategy. "We will try to be aggressive in permitting people to use our software essentially at lower cost and, just as importantly, simplifying the process of license acquisition and management." The plan is to add more horizontal capabilities to the Dynamics family and allow third-parties to extend the functionality in verticals. Orlando Alaya, head of the mid-market division and COO of Microsoft Business Solutions, said that Microsoft’s goal is to have 12,000 “micro-verticals” in the next year.
Responding during a brief Q&A to questions that were pre-screened, Ballmer categorized Linux as a cause for Microsoft to innovate more, and as a "nice competitor that drives Microsoft to be your most important vendor." Ballmer took a shot at SAP, saying that Microsoft’s forthcoming Dynamics will be simpler to implement than SAP and that Microsoft has a broader partner ecosystem for the mid-market. He also took a swipe at salesforce.com, saying that Microsoft would give salesforce.com a “very effective run for its money.” Details about that assault weren't forthcoming.
All and all, vintage Ballmer—an impassioned, hand-clapping sales pitch. For those of you watching the legal battle between Google and Microsoft over Kai Fu Lee, Ballmer throwing a fit (or at least a chair) when an employee was leaving for Google shouldn’t be a surprise. Microsoft was built on the fiercely competitive personalities of Gates and Ballmer. In fact, such tirades are a part of the most admired or feared companies. The bear is irked, stands up, roars and perhaps later dances…