Ballmer: It's ok to wait until Windows 7; Yahoo still 'makes sense'; Google Apps 'primitive'

Ballmer: It's ok to wait until Windows 7; Yahoo still 'makes sense'; Google Apps 'primitive'

Summary: Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer on Thursday defended Vista's honor--again--but at least gave a nod to enterprise buyers that planned to skip it and upgrade when Windows 7 launches. He also noted that a Microsoft purchase of Yahoo would still make sense, but there are no talks.


Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer on Thursday defended Vista's honor--again--but at least gave a nod to enterprise buyers that planned to skip it and upgrade when Windows 7 launches. He also noted that a Microsoft purchase of Yahoo would still make sense, but there are no talks. And he called Google Apps primitive while he was at it. ballmer1.png Ballmer, speaking at the final keynote at the Gartner Symposium ITxpo in Orlando (Twitter feed), came to the stage in the middle of an economic swoon where enterprises are still debating whether to upgrade to Vista. Ballmer spoke via a Q&A with Gartner analysts Neil MacDonald and David Mitchell Smith.

First, Ballmer defended Vista's honor as he had at last year's Gartner's powwow.

"The adoption rate of Vista is faster than the adoption rate was of XP two years in," said Ballmer, who noted that there were issues with compatibility. "We had a great success with security and starting to see a ramp with adoption."

MacDonald countered with Gartner survey data that 61 percent of respondents are thinking about skipping Vista. Ballmer said that Microsoft would be ready for that outcome too. Mentioning Windows 7--he quipped about the creative naming convention of using just "7"--he indicated that Microsoft would be ready for folks that want to skip Vista. In fact, he said Windows 7 would be compatible with Vista.

"Our next release of Windows will be compatible with Vista. The key is let's get on with it. We'll be ready when you want to deploy Windows 7." ballmer2.png Ballmer was asked why Windows 7 is considered a major release instead of just the second rev of Vista. His reply: "It's not minor because it's a lot more work than a minor release. It's a major release."

Ballmer also noted that Windows 7 will improve the operating system shell. "Windows 7 will be Vista, but a lot better," he said, noting cleanness of user interface. Is this fit and finish improvement? Gartner analysts kept referring to Windows 7 as a release candidate 2.

Another key question: Given the economic environment, why upgrade to Vista?

"If people want to wait they really can," said Ballmer. "But I'd definitely deploy Vista." He noted that most IT buyers upgrade the OS when they deploy new machines.

The other elephant in the room was the Yahoo deal. Yahoo, which used to be a takeover target of Microsoft, is getting cheaper by the minute.

In fact, Yahoo tagged yet another 52-week low on Thursday traded below the $12 mark.


Could Yahoo come into play again for Microsoft?

The answer seemed to be to never say never, but there's nothing imminent. "We offered $33 bucks (for Yahoo) and it's $11 today," said Ballmer. "It's clear Yahoo didn't want to sell. They probably still think it's worth more than $33 a share. I still think it makes sense for their shareholders and ours."

Update:  Those comments put Yahoo shares on better footing almost instantly. When Ballmer speaks Yahoo shareholders listen.


Among other topics:

Google Apps: Ballmer said he didn't consider Google Microsoft's biggest competitor. Gartner's questioners asked Ballmer about the Google Apps threat and he became animated. "People don't use it. People try Google Apps, they don't use it. You can't even put a footnote in a document!" said Ballmer. When asked if Ballmer was dismissing Google Apps, he said that Google has "very primitive" capabilities. "We have better competition today than Google Docs and Spreadsheets. We get more competition from OpenOffice and StarOffice frankly," said Ballmer.

Consumer: Ballmer noted that Xbox, Office 2007 and Messenger have been consumer hits. However, Ballmer pooh-poohed the idea that Microsoft was favoring consumer over enterprise.

Multicore: Optimizing applications to take advantage of multicore technology is a challenging problem. Windows' NT code base can still improve.

ballmer21.pngMicrosoft's cloud OS: Why should people care? "We have a big announcement in two weeks at our Professional Developers Conference and we're going to run through this stuff," said Ballmer, looking at his 10 handlers in the crowd (right) and knowing he'd be saying too much. Regarding cloud computing he said it's critical Microsoft has a platform in the cloud because it's more than just hosting.

Does Microsoft worry about losing focus? "No," said Ballmer. He said it's silly to not think the world is going to change. He said he has no problems building everything from data centers to devices.

Topics: Microsoft, Apps, Cloud, Google, Operating Systems, Software, Windows, Social Enterprise

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  • It takes FIVE handlers for Ballmer?

    That's some load!

    • They need to make sure...

      that there are no vacant chairs before the big man enters the room!
      • airborn

        So he doesn't have any chairs to throw more likely...
    • He must have ordered more handlers to come...

      ...out on ZDNet and fill up this thread...

      Looks like the whole Redmond circle-jerk is around.

      hasta la Vista, bah-bie
    • Those aren't the handlers...

      ...that's the entire audience. Those are the last five remaining people in America who still believe anything Ballmer has to say!

      (And yes, they are all five Microsoft employees).
      • Well that makes perfect sense...

        And the other 5 are here on this thread...

        hasta la Vista, bah-bie
  • Vista SE

    Mr. Ballmer ruminates on whether Windows 7 is Vista SE:

    Ballmer was asked why Windows 7 is considered a major release instead of just the second rev of Vista. His reply: ???It???s not minor because it???s a lot more work than a minor release. It???s a major release.???

    Ballmer also noted that Windows 7 will improve the operating system shell. ???Windows 7 will be Vista, but a lot better,??? he said, noting cleanness of user interface.

    [End quote]

    So major vs minor is based on staff time invested.


    But is it consistent to say "Windows 7 will be Vista..."?

    Vista SE still seems the best designation to me.
    Anton Philidor
    • Vista SE still seems the best designation to me.

      Exactly. If it will run on Vista it will run on Windows 7 to make all the people who have upgraded happy and those who haven't happy that they waited.

      This might be to much to hope for but they may even have tried to optimize some code.

      It would be better if they basicly left the controls as they are because this freaks some people out but that is to much to ask for.

      They have to move something to prove they did something even if it just makes for more work.
  • Vista works great and so does office 2007

    The move to Vista is assured. Windows 7 is a much improved Vista but Vista is everywhere already and growing. Every new computer comes with Vista but adoption rates are quite good and much better than XP adoption rates.
    • No they don't

      Every new computer may come with a Vista License sticker but every new computer that we have bought comes pre-installed with Windows XP.

      The little stickers sure make Vista adoption look a whole lot better than it actually is.

      Can we say 50+ computers purchased this year all run Windows XP? Yes we can.
      • I take that's part of the downgrade option...

        ...which we know about a third of companies elect to utilise - or rather, we did; the number will have decreased but no-one knows by how much yet?

        That means that at the very least adoption rate is still 50% better than XP's.
        Sleeper Service
        • Extension

          Since the downgrade option from OEM's just got extended again that means demand is still very strong.
          • It means

            the customer is right. XP does everything necessary. Vista is, in my opinion, a major improvement over XP. The user interface is far better, search is well-integrated, it's fast, it's stable, it's secure. It gets to be the scapegoat for things that NEEDED to happen in the Windows environment, things we have wanted for years now. Less backwards compatability in order to facilitate better security and stability. So, we get that, and all of a sudden it's a big deal because your 5 year old printer won't work or your 3 year old program that was still being written in 16-bit code won't run.

            MS had to have a scapegoat OS. That's why XP continues to be popular. Windows 7 will be better than Vista, it will have higher adoption rates than Vista (which, btw, are amazing by any standard other than Microsoft's, which says A LOT about how good MS has really done), and will improve security and stability further I'm sure. Developers will have been forced to fix (some) bad programming habits by the time 7 ships because they can't ignore the people who are running Vista any longer.
          • Less backwards compatability in order to what?

            Oh what spin!

            What exactly is wrong with having 5 year old printers and 3 year old programs work?

            It seems like someone wants to force people to buy more and more junk when it is not necessary or desirable.

            I bet my printer is a huge security risk! someone might see what was printed! And the 10 year old CAD program that fulfills every need around here needs to go also! The new version costs only $15,000. Yes, I MUST have it, so I can feel more secure and stable!

            Buy more. Buy more, NOW!. Only through fullness of commerce with Microsoft can we truly be cleansed! (Insert vendor of choice in place of MS where appropriate..)

            The only entities that benefit from reduction of backwards compatibility are software and hardware manufacturers and vendors. I'm not interested.
          • backwards compatibility

            not sure you understand the limitations supporting legacy hardware and software provides. Consider for example how much stronger the infrastructure in the US could be if we could start now from scratch instead of having to support outdated nonsense. If work didn't have to go into making things fit in positions and places created decades ago, it could be faster, stronger, more mobile, etc. Think flying cars or truly energy efficient houses, etc.
            Anonymous Benefactor
          • But less than one-third corporate sales...

            ...which still means that Vista's corporate adoption is better than XP's.

            It's not really that difficult to understand.
            Sleeper Service
          • It's apparently too difficult for you

            Microsoft's claim about adoption rates is not that more people are buying Vista than XP. That would hardly be surprising since it's put on almost every new computer. Their claim, and I have no reason to doubt it, is that the move toward Vista now is at a higher rate than was the move to XP at a similar stage in the release cycle.
      • Yes, but thanks to those who have rolled out Vista...

        the world is hearing they find it an extremely good OS and value, much the opposite of the perception they'd been force fed by the media. <br>
        In fact it was part of Gartner's poll, from which some statistics were mentioned in this very blog, that showed those who rolled it out are very happy indeed. <br><br>
        Like any new technology, it just takes time for enough people to use it long enough to see how good it is......i know many that didn't like Office 2007 at first sight but after a just try and make them go back to office 2003 or! No way. They love it once they have become proficient and realize it really does make them more productive while at the same time helps them create very professional work, literally above what they produced previously. <br><br>
        So, Vista's uptake is moving pretty well, it's actual uptake that is, not sales numbers. I know personally the 2 largest companies in this city rolled it out company-wide and are very happy. <br><br>
        They state it as now having very secure clients with unwavering stability in comparison to other OSes. In addition to the security and stability, they get economy of scale, a lower cost over time and the environment targeted by the best development tools in the world, bar none. <br><br>
        The perceptions have been bad, the naysayers and anti-ms people broke through into mainstream this time. There was a concerted effort starting long before vista was released. <br>
        And it's easy to understand why. If Vista were a huge success and adopted quickly, Apple and OSS communities would be looking at another 5 to 10 years, minimum, before they had another shot at Microsoft, and maybe never one quite like the years after the AT proceedings and a MS that was not producing much software for most of the decade. It truely was now or never for the other desktop contenders to make a move, and being not ready to take the world by storm, they had to slow MS first and try to create a perception way beyond reality. <br><br>
        Fortunately, people are seeing beyond all of the rhetoric and finding how great Vista really is and how it takes advantage of modern hardware more than any other OS available.<br><br>
        People are ready to move on now and are not letting rhetoric chain them to yesterday's news any longer. <br><br>
        This is not an MS apologist post as many would dismiss as, but it's the truth now. There are no more excuses and lies and half truths. The game is up. It's breaking through and that is good for the IT world at large, of whom most are ready and raring to go with Vista or win7. The excitement that has been lacking in IT is back and Vista is creating it. <br>
        • Yes, thank you very much!

          That's what i wanted to say.

          for years, those media people and wall street anaylysts has been denouncing everything MSFT does. From Vista, to Zune media player to Windows Mobile. there are some exceptions like Sharepoint, they really have nothing bad to say, they just don't say anything. On the other hand, they cheers everything MSFT's rivals do. Some examples:

          A year ago, media everywhere talking about linux, make you feel linux is going to overtake Windows. That didn't happen of course. Apple for example, is a company, just a couple of years ago, nobody care of. They really couldn't sell their computer and turned to media player. No surprise, media picked apple as well. They cheers whatever apple does, no matter what. And google. They tell you that google is the most powerful company. "most powerful" for what? money wise or technical wise? Money wise, MSFT still makes the amount that even IBM can never dream of. technical wise, honestly, i don't think google has any serious product other than search. technically, google is not any better than Wikipedia or craigslist. they just don't have a way to make money out of it. It is pure luck, not much more.

          i see the media playing a very bad role in this community. they made brad pitt a star, and angelina julie as well, for what? do these people any good for the jobs they do? paris hilton came from a sex tape to become a star. Obama becomes a star too. what the hell.

          Would ever the media people do something to contribute the society please?
          • Pure luck

            [i]they just don't have a way to make money out of it. It is pure luck, not much more[/i]

            If you really think making a company grow to a 120B+ cap in 8 years is "pure luck" you're seriously delusional.

            Google makes money from advertising. That's their business plan. Everything they do is geared towards bringing more revenue through that stream.
            Everything else is gravy.

            Stop blaming "the media" for the things that don't go the way YOU expect them to go.