By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2007-03-15 Print this article Print

Asked what his greatest personal challenge is, Ballmer responded: "time. I have a spreadsheet with 35 columns in it and I allocate time to each. I drop the kids off at school when Im home and get home in time for dinner—though my wife would say that its in time for dessert." Asked how he felt when Gates announced his intentions to leave Microsoft, Ballmer said that discussion started three years ago when Gates told him that he wanted to start working at Microsoft part-time.
Ballmer said it was clear to both of them, though, that the move had to see Gates move from company leader to coach, and that his replacements needed to be put in place two years before he left so that he could coach and mentor them.
Click here to read more about whether Microsoft is ready for Gates transition. "The one thing is that is always nice is to have a partner, and Bill has always been my partner at Microsoft. But now Im transitioning," he said. Asked what, as a leader, keeps him up at night, Ballmer said: "I sleep very well. I do. I sleep very well at night. I do have a fundamental optimism about our business. But the things that eat at me the most are things like developing a new business model. "Take the open-source business model, which is a radically different business model. We grew up with a business model, we had to learn to embrace the enterprise business model and, while we couldnt embrace the open source business model, we had to learn how to compete with it," he said. Keeping staff happy, retaining top staff and getting them to collaborate well together are some of the other things at the top of his mind, even though they do not keep him awake at night, he said. Asked about Microsofts recent organizational changes and the appointment of Steve Sinofsky, the former head of Office, to head up Windows development, Ballmer lauded the new user interface in Office and the taking of a systematic approach, which is Sinofskys style, even though he did say that this was not the approach taken by the Windows leadership over the years. To read more about how Microsoft shook up its Windows unit, click here. "We employ talented people with different styles, qualities and capabilities, which has always worked really well for us," he said. Check out eWEEK.coms for Microsoft and Windows news, views and analysis.

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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