A New Role for Microsofts Ballmer

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2006-07-27 Print this article Print

As Bill Gates transitions away from working full time at Microsoft, CEO Steve Ballmer will have to become the primary champion of innovation.

REDMOND, Wash.—The decision by Chairman Bill Gates to transition away from working full time at Microsoft to assuming a part-time position has ushered in a new era and a new job for CEO Steve Ballmer. "When Bill announced his role change, I felt like I was entering a new era and had a new job, given the uniqueness of my relationship with Bill over many years," Ballmer said at Microsofts annual financial analyst meeting at its campus here July 27. "I have never had to be the primary champion of innovation within the company. Bill has always played that role. But, over the next two years, I will have to become the primary champion of innovation at Microsoft."
Click here to read more about whether Microsoft is ready for Gates transition.
With regard to Microsofts longstanding goal of making software a service, Ballmer said this is happening and the Redmond software giant is embracing advertising and subscription-based models and Internet-based delivery across all of its products as an important part of what it does going forward. He also said the company is like a multicore processor and is looking to add new cores such as entertainment and Internet services to its existing cores of desktop and server software. The past year has been one of many firsts, he said: This is the first time Gates has not attended Microsofts financial analyst meeting; instead, he is "in Africa somewhere enjoying a long-planned vacation," Ballmer said. This is also the first time Ballmer addressed the financial analyst community since Gates announced he will change roles, and it marks a time of change and innovation and a new era at Microsoft that will be more exciting and will generate even more shareholder value, Ballmer said. Windows Vista and Office 2007, expected to ship in early 2007—which Ballmer called "blockbuster releases"—are the engines that will propel Microsoft in the market and attract interest in add-on offerings. Next up at the financial analyst meeting was Kevin Johnson, co-president with Jim Allchin of Microsofts platforms and services division. Johnson made it clear that Microsoft will ship Windows Vista only when it is ready. "The team is driving toward the next milestone, Release Candidate 1, which is likely this quarter. There are also no indications at this time that Vista will not ship as planned next January," he said. Microsoft is striving for an on-time delivery of Windows Vista. Click here to read more. "There is something for everyone in Windows Vista, and we will be driving that message home. But, at the same time, we have to make clear the additional value the premium SKUs bring," he said. The platforms and services division is focused on putting the customer first, creating a compelling environment for end users and third parties to innovate on, while driving clear business value to its targeted audiences. Leadership priorities include innovation agility, online services, execution and growth, as well as empowering people more and attracting the talent that drives the company, he said. While Microsoft expects total PC shipment growth to slow to 8 or 9 percent, with 225 million PCs likely to ship next year, emerging market PC shipment growth is rising at double that rate, Johnson said. Steve Sinofsky, who was recently appointed to head the Windows and Windows Live groups, has retooled the planning and development process for Windows, Johnson said. Software Assurance renewals are tracking at the highest level in years, and Microsoft is signing up a lot of new users ahead of the release of Windows Vista, he said. Next Page: Healthy business climate.

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 www.eweek.com.


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