But Ballmer acknowledged that, despite its best efforts, customers still encounter bugs in Microsoft software. While Windows 2000 and Windows XP have improved the stability and reliability of its platform, "and we eliminated many flaws, we did not find all the bugs in these or other products. "Nor did we find all the software conflicts that can cause applications to freeze up or otherwise fail to perform as expected," he conceded.These include eliciting more customer feedback; offering easier, more consistent ways for customers to update their products; and providing them with more effective, readily available support and service. "Customers expect the same high quality and reliability in computing devices and software as they do in consumer products. But meeting their expectations is much harder, and not just because information technology is more complex and interdependent," he said. If technology products are to approach the satisfying consistency of consumer staples, which they should, the industry needs to do a better job of connecting with its customers. "For a company such as Microsoft, with many millions of customers around the world, the connections must be very broad," Ballmer said. Throwing a piece of personal information into the mix, Ballmer admitted that, prior to working for Microsoft, his only other job had been marketing "brownie mix and blueberry muffin mix for one of the largest consumer products companies. Im glad I decided to join Microsoft 22 years ago, when it was a little software startup," he said. Microsoft is also, ultimately, trying to change how software developers do their jobs on a daily basis. The company is working to establish more of a direct, interactive connection between developers and customers. "To get there, we intend to listen even more closely to our customers, consult with them regularly, and be more responsive. This is the message I am sending to all of Microsofts employees, and it is my commitment to you," Ballmer concluded.
While Microsoft also has "a long way to go" on the road to further improving its products and providing greater customer satisfaction, it has identified some near-term objectives over the past year.