Ballmer said he was very excited about the future, adding that while the world is changing, that change needs to be embraced, he said, pointing to the companys Xbox Live site as an example of how Microsoft is meeting these changing needs. Apple remains a threat on the desktop market front, as it is very competitive and innovative, he said.But Microsoft has a bigger partner and third-party ecosystem and focus than Apples more narrow end-to-end focus, he said.Asked why anyone should upgrade to its upcoming Windows Vista release, Ballmer said that while the company has made it a lot easier for people to upgrade, the top reason for doing so is the security and privacy enhancements it brings. The new visuals and user interface, as well as the integration of new desktop search features into the operating system, are also compelling, he said. Click here to read more about the reasons for the delay of Windows Vista. On the security front, Ballmer said that with Vista, Microsoft will have eliminated the known vectors through which people attacked it today, but added that there would be new attack vectors that would be a lot more insidious and not just disruptive, but also about stealing peoples identity and other insidious intents. With reference to Sun chairman Scott McNealy, who was his good friend "again," Ballmer said that when they first started to reconnect, the first piece of mail that McNealy sent him ended up in Ballmers junk mail as it met the current criteria for spam. "It was short, a one-liner, so there are still challenges with identifying what is spam and what is not," he said. Asked about his view on startups, Ballmer said Microsoft had acquired 22 companies over the past year, many of which could be characterized as startups. "I also now, three times a year, spend a day in a different part of the world doing nothing but meeting with startups," he said With regard to his views on BitTorrent, Ballmer said it is "interesting, but Im not actually sure where it goes with that technology," while Facebook is "fascinating, and I have spent a lot of time looking at it." Check out eWEEK.coms for Microsoft and Windows news, views and analysis.