Ballmer: We are winning on server and desktop

Open source may be 'keeping Microsoft on its feet' but the company is not afraid, says its chief executive

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has criticised the lack of innovation in open-source software and accused the community of merely trying to "clone" commercial software.

Speaking at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference in Toronto today, Ballmer admitted that open source is "keeping us on our feet" but, describing himself as a caged animal on the topic, he said Windows is the safe technology bet for customers and partners today.

"What is winning most of the assignments on the server and virtually all the assignments on the desktop?"

Ballmer also hit back at criticism that Microsoft has stifled software innovation.

"Where's the technology innovation going to happen? Technology innovation has happened much more from commercial companies than open source. Open source has just been trying to do clones of commercial software. That's all Linux is -- a clone of Unix," he said.

Ballmer said that with commercial software, businesses are guaranteed a "clear chain of responsibility" with regards to support and intellectual property. "Who's going to stand up and stand behind open source? No such clear line of responsibility exists."

Outlining target areas for growth over the next 12 months, Ballmer said the installed Novell and IBM Lotus Notes bases are "ripe for picking".

"There are more customers I've met in the last six months interested in Notes to Exchange migration than in the last five years."