Ballmer on Microsoft's persistence: The bone doesn't fall out of our mouth easily

Ballmer on Microsoft's persistence: The bone doesn't fall out of our mouth easily

Summary: Before a standing room-only audience of more than 6,000 attendees here at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, Steve Ballmer was put on the hot seat (if you can call it that) as two of Gartner's analysts David Smith and Yvonne Genovese grilled him with a variety of questions regarding Microsoft's strategy moving forward.

TOPICS: Microsoft

Before a standing room-only audience of more than 6,000 attendees here at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, Steve Ballmer was put on the hot seat (if you can call it that) as two of Gartner's analysts David Smith and Yvonne Genovese grilled him with a variety of questions regarding Microsoft's strategy moving forward.

Of particular interest to the analysts (and the audience) was how Microsoft plans to survive in a world where more and more functionality is delivered by way of the Internet into a browser, causing users to rely less and less on the local horsepower of a notebook or desktop PC. Ballmer responded, saying:

I do think that we're in a transition where software goes from something that's in its pre-Internet day to something we call Live where you have click to run capability on a Web site.... But software will still execute on a PC.

Ballmer backed that up with examples of how some of the software giant's biggest rivals such as Yahoo and Google have ultimately realized that they must rely on local compute power to do certain things:

The difference between software plus a service and software as a services is whether people will want to use the local intelligence in their phones, PCs, etc.  Even if you look at some Internet services today, they all use power from the client... AJAX uses the power of the client and the  Instant Messenger clients from us and Yahoo and Google use the client.

In addition to reiterating that security was Microsoft's top priority, Ballmer fielded questions regarding how long it has taken Vista to ship to which Ballmer responded with a discussion of how reinventing Windows from the ground up required both innovation and integration (at the component level): a situation which produced a bit of engineering chaos for Microsoft. 

But, where Microsoft has faltered or has not been the first mover, Ballmer referred to Microsoft's "stick to it-ivness" that he believes is behind the company's chances to prevail in all of the markets in which it competes, and across the various initiatives in which it's engaged. Comparing Microsoft to a perseverant dog that won't let go of something important, Ballmer said:

The bone doesn't fall out of our mouth easily. We may not be first but we'll keep working and working and working and working and working..... and it's the same with search. We'll keeping coming and coming and coming and coming and coming. We are irrepressible on this.

Regarding competition against things that are free (a question that was asked by an attendee via pre-prepared video at the head end of the session), Ballmer once again reiterated how the company never gives up saying:

We're going to be competing against open somethings for a long time and that means we're going to push and push and push and push and push.

If there were some newsworthy tidbits, they had to do with Ballmer's thinking about the infrastructure that's necessary to support click to run software (see my earlier post) and the opportunity for third-parties to participate in Microsoft's newly launched Zune ecosystem. 

According to Ballmer, as more software is delivered as a service, there will be a need to deliver that on the public Internet as well as from behind a firewall (in other words, corporations will want to deliver software as a service on a private level to their internal users) and this will have a certain impact on infrastructure requirements. Ballmer referred to a technology platform in the cloud and stratified that into commerce, community, and search, saying that "each one of those will have an analog that will affect our servers... and this is driven by Ray Ozzie."

Regarding Zune, David Smith noted how Microsoft had gone from running an ecosystem that encourage third party participation (PlaysForSure) to one that looks like it will mimic what Apple has done with its iTunes Music Store and its iPods where the system is entirely closed and controlled by a single vendor. Ballmer responded saying that a closed approach is a really bad idea and that an very open experience is sometimes accompanied by a lot of chaos (a comment that the various open communities will probably argue is precisely why open is good: because out of that chaos comes great innovation). Saying "not everyone can write an XBox game" (and referring to controls that Microsoft has in place to ensure the integrity of third-party developed games), Ballmer cited Microsoft's XBox as an example of the sort of ecosystem that Zune might follow where third parties can play, but where there's far more orchestration by a single entity. 

Like the other initiatives where Ballmer said Microsoft will keep working and working and working and working and coming and coming and coming and coming and pushing and pushing and pushing and pushing, when it comes to the company's resolve to derail the Apple juggernaut, Microsoft is very likely to keep plugging and plugging and plugging and plugging away at it.  

Topic: Microsoft

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  • You forgot to mention

    And monopolizing and monopolizing and monopolizing and monopolizing. ;)
  • I once heard...

    ...that Archer Daniels Midland won't even enter a market unless they think they can dominate it (at least 60% market share) in a short period of time. The MS mentality seems much the same.
    John L. Ries
  • American Software Industry - Signs of A Collpase Coming

    After reading the editorial on Ballmer's discussion about software and software as a service, I have come to the conclusion that the US Software Industry is in the early process of a collpase.

    It appears that the more information Microsoft puts out whether it be written or by representative the more "gibberish" appears instead of credible information.

    People aho follow the Microsoft line of thinking appear more and more to be loosing their grip on reality as new software and tools are hyped to unheard of expectations concerning new services that are so complex, insecure, or both that the reality of their successful implementations are rather doubtful. Most of this is driven by what large corporate vendors such as Microsoft percieve out of touch US management wants in the "enterprise" or what Microsoft would like to put there.

    For example, let's take the Internet. Given, the foundations of this remarkable communication mechanism, the capacity to use it safely and efficiently has been long passed with the only continuing possibilities being new complexities that are costlier along with greater security invulnerabilities. In this case, we have Ajax as the prime culprit which was noted in recent reports as a basis for new security problems.

    The only way to fix them, if at all, is to add new layers of security software to the mix or implement new standards of development which brings us to another item in the mix; the capability of the average technician to implement secure code which is more or less the equivalent of an oxymoron. You can't develop code while having your hands tied behind your back as you attempt to make good on the security of your implementation. Wisely stated, by security professionals, that is a job for a well designed security review of one's code of which I have never seen one in 33+ years in the field. The result is inconsistent code implementations.

    The list goes on and on with ever increasing number of forks up for discussion and review. And all of this is what is contributing to the increasing noise and gibberish in a field that was once dominated more by logic and discipline than just simple ego though we have always had a fair share of it around.

    The same cannot be said for the open-source movement and\or the Linux\Java communities where I see a greater emphasis on technical quality and purity along with an increasing set of well-designed and mature tools.

    Hopefully, .NET will survive the ever increasing twists that Microsoft is attempting to apply to it while assuming more of the technical acumen of the Linux\Java world. However, without this "calming" effect on current sofware endeavors I fear that a collapse of the IT industry into a highly complex "Tower of Babel"is more than quite possible.
    • Our capacity to absorb

      We as a group tend to put on a set of blinders and concentrate on what is relevant to us. This is the way much of the .NET technology is, although fortunately, there is a Captain at the helm of the .NET ship, where there are several EXO's and no captain at the head of the Linux/Java ship. There are many facets to .NET. perhaps too many for one mind to comprehend all.

      Microsoft and .NET will take whatever direction the company wants it to take, as they have developed a clear base from which to operate and build out. Microsoft hs always built great tools.

      When the Linux/Java crowd can standardize on anyhing, let me know. I have two Linux machines, each running it's own distro and the one thing I have realized in the years I have been dealing is that there is no clear direction. Yes there are platoons of developers out there who can make cool products, but without a clear directive, Linux/Java will always flounder. Heck, Java even makes more sense under WIndows.