Ballmer Bails on MMS 2004 Keynote

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2004-03-16 Print this article Print

Microsoft cancelled a keynote address by CEO Steve Ballmer at its annual Microsoft Management Summit. Sources close to the company confirmed that Ballmer's absence is attributable to his presence in Brussels, where he is negotiating with European official

LAS VEGAS—Microsoft Corp. on Tuesday cancelled the keynote address by Steve Ballmer, its CEO, which was scheduled for Wednesday morning at its annual Microsoft Management Summit here. While a Microsoft spokeswoman would only say that Ballmers schedule had changed and that he was no longer available to give the keynote, sources close to the Redmond, Wash., software firm confirmed that he was in fact in Brussels negotiating with European officials. That last-minute move by Ballmer comes just a week ahead of a final decision on the long-running antitrust case.
The meeting between Ballmer and European Union officials also comes a day after antitrust advisers from the 15 EU countries approved a draft ruling by the Commission that said that the software giant had broken antitrust law. A final decision is expected on March 24.
Microsoft hopes to avert a far-reaching order that would result in a fine of up to $3 billion and which would force the company to strip Media Player from its flagship operating system in Europe, giving rival products from competitors including RealNetworks Inc. a better chance of getting onto consumer desktops. The EU draft ruling would also compel Microsoft to release more Windows programming code in the interests of improving interoperability with competing networking software made by Sun Microsystems Inc. and others. A Microsoft spokeswoman declined to confirm if Ballmer was in Brussels, and a short note sent out by Monday mornings keynote presenter, Bob Muglia, the senior vice president of Microsofts Windows Server Division, said only that "due to an unforeseen schedule change, Steve Ballmer is not able to present the keynote at MMS 2004 tomorrow morning. "In his place, Kirill Tatarinov will cover material we planned for Steve to cover. Kirill will also provide specific details on our [Microsoft Operations Manager], [Systems Management Server] and Systems Center plans. My apologies for this last-minute change," he said. The move has caused conference organizers here an enormous headache, given that Ballmer is a popular speaker and many of the some 2,000 attendees at the sold-out show signed up specifically because he was giving a keynote address. "Yes, its very disappointing," an attendee told eWeek when asked about the shift. "Ballmer is an animated speaker and also leads the company. We come to hear from him about his vision for the future of the company and its products. Having someone else deliver that message just doesnt cut it." Check out eWEEK.coms Windows Center at for Microsoft and Windows news, views and analysis. Be sure to add our Windows news feed to your RSS newsreader or My Yahoo page:  
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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