Ballmer Upbeat on Microsofts Prospects

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2004-07-29 Print this article Print

As the company adds value to its own products and ventures into emerging businesses, it should always strive to "be the first to make a lot of money," CEO Steve Ballmer says at the annual analyst meeting.

REDMOND, Wash.—Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer bounced onto the stage here Thursday in his usual jovial, uber-salesman style, telling the media and analysts in attendance that he was more psyched up to address this analyst meeting than he had been since he became CEO in 2000. "Today is a very different day for me. We had a blowout, stunningly great fiscal year 2004, and Im pretty excited about that," he said. "Man, Ill tell you, this pipe is full, and I get to talk to you about the incredible outlook, and risks, for our company." Saying that Microsoft Corp. continues to recruit the top talent within the United States and globally, Ballmer said, "I am very proud of the people we are able to bring in. We have just finished a major retooling of the way we work. People come here to work for a dynamic company like us."
The company has less than 3 percent unwanted attrition, he said, adding that Microsoft has embarked on a major drive to improve customer satisfaction. While that plan started in 1998, Ballmer acknowledged that it had fallen short the first few years, but had been very successful recently.
While Microsoft will be a responsible leader, it also will remain a ruthless competitor, especially against companies such as Oracle Corp., SAP AG, Sun Microsystems Inc., Sony and against open-source products and companies, he said. Its also interesting to see which businesses will be making big bets versus those that wont, Ballmer said. "We need to be looking for the next emerging business, and you guys should be pushing us along this path, not discouraging us, as thats where future growth will come from." Also at the analyst meeting, Microsoft previewed its all-in-one search. Click here to read more. "We will continue to invest in and add value to our existing products, but will also be pushing into new ones," Ballmer said, adding that "all I think about, all Bill [Gates] thinks about is whether we are being agile enough, innovating enough, looking at how we reduce the time, complexity and processes to get more interoperability," Ballmer said. "We need to be first: first to market and first to be cool. We also better be the first to make a lot of money, and if we arent first to do so, we better be making the most at the end of the day," he said. Microsoft will outgrow others in the business of adding value to software, Ballmer said, adding that if it innovates in the right way, the work that software companies have done will be a source of revenue, profits and jobs for a long time. Click here to read about Microsofts plans to continue its campaign against open source. Over the next four years, fiscal growth is likely to be balanced and is likely to be broken down to 40 percent from the desktop, 30 percent from the server, 40 percent from emerging businesses and a 10 percent decline in new businesses. "Over the next four years, we can do a very good job and might be able to grow by as much as a whole Nokia, a whole Siemens and maybe even a whole Intel. "I was temped to write IBM as well," Ballmer said jokingly, "but thats out of our reach in the next few years unless their profits fall. I am optimistic about the future." Check out eWEEK.coms Windows Center at for Microsoft and Windows news, views and analysis.

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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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