Ballmer Talks Up Software and Snack Food

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2002-10-02 Print this article Print

In a memo to customers, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer talks about everything from blueberry muffins to software bugs.

Microsoft Corp. will soon commit to a new policy to give customers "greater clarity and confidence about its support for products through their lifecycles," CEO Steve Ballmer told customers in a broad memo e-mailed out on Wednesday afternoon. But Ballmer would not elaborate on the initiative, and a Microsoft spokesman also declined further comment. The upcoming new policy initiative was mentioned in what is an ongoing series of e-mails to customers from Microsoft executives, including chairman and chief software architect Bill Gates, Ballmer and, from time to time, others.
The memos are designed to address those issues that these executives feel are important to consumers, business, the industry and Microsoft itself. In this latest e-mail, Ballmer focuses on what Microsoft is doing to maintain and deepen customer connections with the Redmond, Wash., software firm.
Error reporting is one of the ways Microsoft is trying to create broader customer connections, he said. Another is through its software update and management services which, according to Ballmer, have "made it easy for customers to keep their software current." But this was not the case for many Windows XP users, who complained that the update system caused them problems. Ballmer also said Microsoft is making changes in its product service and support to enhance value and to speed resolution of customer problems, but again he offered no additional details. Microsoft has also found that, among all the software bugs involved in reports, a relatively small proportion caused most of the errors. "About 20 percent of the bugs cause 80 percent of all errors, and—this is stunning to me—one percent of bugs cause half of all errors," Ballmer said. In Windows XP Service Pack 1, error reporting enabled Microsoft to address 29 percent of errors involving the operating system and applications running on it, including a large number of third-party applications, he said. Error reporting further helped eliminate more than half of all Office XP errors with Office XP Service Pack 2. Work continues to find and fix remaining bugs in these and other existing products, he said, adding that error reporting is also helping Microsoft "resolve more problems before new products are released."

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel