Ballmer: Microsoft Is Intent to Deliver Value

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2005-09-19 Print this article Print

CEO shares view of Vista, Office.

Microsoft Corp.s professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles last week was perhaps the Redmond, Wash., companys most important event of the year, as officials try to sell developers on the value of creating new applications for the companys next generation of products. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer talked with eWEEK Senior Editor Peter Galli at the show about these upcoming products.

A lot of enterprises are unconvinced or unaware of the benefits Windows Vista will bring them. What do you tell them is compelling for them in Vista?

I always talk about the security, reliability and performance benefits, which are the underlying benefits to IT. Performance and management benefits are harder to sell. I also talk to them about the new kinds of applications they can do with the Windows Presentation Foundation, Internet Explorer 7 and "Atlas." I also talk to them about the user benefits.

You talked recently about extra value-added high-end versions for Windows Vista and Office. Customers are questioning how you can differentiate and add value to these products even more. Can you explain your thinking in that regard?

I got a little ahead of the troops in talking about the Enterprise Edition of Vista. There are features and capabilities that enterprises want that are really not that interesting outside of the enterprise. There are capabilities I know that our enterprise customers want that make a lot less sense anywhere else, and we will introduce those in the Enterprise Edition. But there are concerns about down-level applications and compatibility and the way you image and build and distribute this stuff.

Do you think enterprises will be willing to pay more for that specific technology?

We havent said what the packaging and pricing is. I have just said that it is additional value and we will figure out a way to let the enterprise get that value. You dont think about this in the context of some big pricing change to Windows for enterprises. Its more complex and nuanced than that.

Some Microsoft critics say that many of the features in "Longhorn" already exist in other operating systems. How do you respond to that?

I dont hear that from enterprise customers. They dont look at the Mac. They just dont. Some people will say some of the features are kissing cousins to features theyve seen elsewhere, and that is true. Im not apologetic about the fact that we should, in a way that doesnt offend anyone elses intellectual property, study and learn and benefit from the work others have done.

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


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