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Ballmer to WashPost: "The inevitability of the cloud is absolutely clear"

During a Q&A with the Washington Post, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer touched on a number of topics, including the future of the cloud and the company's missteps in mobile.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who was in Washington this week for Microsoft's Partner Conference, spent some time chatting with Cecilia Kang at the Washington Post (a former colleague and good pal.) She touched on several topics with Ballmer, including Microsoft's missteps in mobile.

During the Q&A, Kang asked Ballmer about the economy and how it impacts Microsoft's cloud strategy. His reply: It doesn't. Specifically, here's what he had to say:

The economy has a lot to do with a lot of things, but not this. The inevitability of the cloud is absolutely clear. When and how is not 100 percent clear. The preponderance of our partners are moving with us. Some partners may move slowly, and maybe a few won’t even move with us. But the new guys jumping into the fray are saying, "Hey this is new opportunity."

However, he was quick to point out that there are different parts of "the cloud market," such as app infrastructure, hardware infrastructure and apps. In comparison to his competitors - specifically Google and Amazon - Ballmer said Microsoft is doing "very very well" with bigger customers because the offerings from Google and Amazon are "incomplete." He said:

We are just way ahead, which doesn’t mean we can get lazy in any sense. 2010 is really important. We have a wave of stuff for cloud that follows. We have a consistent offer on the desk and from the cloud — that is important.

Ballmer also tackled questions about Microsoft's priorities in Washington, the culture in Redmond, the approach toward mobile and tablet computing and even some thoughts about Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Kang's full Q&A can be found here.

Related: Ballmer lands keynote at CES 2011 but can he make it to January?