Ballmer: Innovation key to Microsoft success

Ballmer: Innovation key to Microsoft success

Summary: Internal memos produced in EU court this week may tell another story, but Microsoft's chief insists it is just making products people 'really like'


Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer has hit back at claims that the company's dominance of the desktop PC market is no longer in the best interests of consumers.

Speaking at the annual Institute of Directors' conference at the Royal Albert Hall in London on Wednesday, Ballmer said Microsoft's dominance is based not on any abuse of its market position but purely on producing compelling products that consumers and businesses want to buy.

He said: "Why is Microsoft a big company? Microsoft is not successful because we are big. We did something that people really like. People wanted it and they bought it."

Microsoft is currently embroiled in a long-running legal battle with the European Commission over an antitrust ruling. The EC is seeking to force the software giant to open up its closely guarded operating system code to rivals.

Looking to the future Ballmer said Microsoft's success and long-term survival will be based on innovation and "big, bold goals" rather than the company's size. He said: "Our size will not be our saviour. It will be our ability to do things that are compelling."

Demonstrating a new Microsoft mobile device, Ballmer said the vision of a single integrated handheld device will be a reality for most people in the next few years for just over £100 or "several hundred dollars".

He said: "I do see convergence of email, web browsing, phone, music, entertainment all on a single device. That will happen to all of us in the next few years."

The fact that more paper is being used now than 10 years ago is another "quest" that is currently inspiring Microsoft employees to push for a truly paperless office, he added.

Ballmer acknowledged the role the company's employees play in Microsoft's success but said organisations always need to be asking themselves if they "can do better".

He said: "A good programmer is 10 times more productive than an average programmer. You have to hunt out and find the best around the world. We look for people who are incredibly bright and hard working."

As a big sports fan Ballmer was asked whether he had any plans to follow other billionaires — such as Roman Abramovic — and invest money in a UK football team.

He joked: "No chance. I would have to learn where a midfielder stands."

Topic: Operating Systems

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  • Excuse me, but speaking as a consumer in the UK I do *not* want to buy Windows. I would, however, like to buy a new and decent laptop. Can someone please describe an easy way of achieving both of these goals? The objective here would be to pay a fair price for a laptop, while not giving a single penny to Microsoft. In theory, this should not be difficult because I only want to buy hardware whereas MS Windows is software.
  • As far as I remember Bill Gates made a fool of himself (in the USA) claiming that they have innovated "this and that".
    However, when you keep on claiming the same thing there will always be people who believe you.
    I do not think Ballmer wants to be more specific about their innovations than repeating and repeating the word "innovation".
    Perhaps reapeating and reapeting (ther are some other words for that too) is Ballmers innovation, although, that is again, a very old innovation.
  • "innovation" is misspelled. It should read: invasion.
  • In the UK nearly all banks will load online statements into MS Money but only THREE will operate with Inuit's Quicken - which was far more popular here. A poll a few years ago suggested that 68% of personal accounts programs used were Quicken and only 24% used MS Money, mainly because it is far too complicated compared to Quicken. Last year Intuit withdrew support for Quicken from the UK probably, one suspects, because of the banks' support of MS Money. It would be interesting to know if Microsoft gave aid, either financial or technical, to the banks using this software.