Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer talked Windows Phone 7, tablets and the resignation of chief software architect Ray Ozzie at the Gartner conference.
ORLANDO, Fla.-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer spoke about
Windows Phone 7 and the prospect of Windows tablets during his Oct. 21 keynote
talk at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2010 here. Typically high-energy, and
almost combative at moments with Gartner analysts, he also discussed the recent
departure of the company's chief software architect, Ray Ozzie, and how that
might affect the company going forward.
Although tablets-and the iPad's penetration of the
enterprise market-have been a chief topic of conversation at the Gartner
conference, Ballmer seemed determined to dodge the question of whether
Windows-equipped tablets would make an appearance on the market by the end of
"Devices ship all the time," Ballmer said. "You will
continue to see an evolution of devices. That's what you'll continue to see ...
there's a next generation of things that will come with the Intel processors."
At the same time, he also claimed that Microsoft was more
than capable of adapting to other form-factors. "We believe in the diversity of
the form-factor. We need a little help with the hardware, we need a little help
with the software. We obviously get touch; Windows Phone 7 has a wonderful
In the meantime, Microsoft needs to focus on marketing
Windows Phone 7. "We have a lot of work to do to get into the game," Ballmer
said, while hinting that Microsoft would progressively incorporate more and
more enterprise-centric features onto the smartphone platform. Windows Phone 7
currently lacks the capability for cut-and-paste, a target of early criticism,
although Microsoft executives have promised to have that feature in place by
"We will need to push for features that are not there on the
first release," Ballmer said.
Gartner predicts that Microsoft will remain fifth in the
smartphone market through 2015.
Ballmer also insisted that this week's departure of Ray
Ozzie, Microsoft's chief software architect, would have zero effect on the
company's cloud strategy. "We've taken a strategic direction anchored in the
cloud," he said. "That vision is our company strategy. It doesn't live in any
one head or mind."
Indeed, Ballmer added, Ozzie's vision for the cloud had
infused the entire organization. "If you talk to the people who work in our
server division-which is really our Azure division at this stage-or with Office
365 or Bing, they're all in and they're all talented."
Although never the most reclusive of CEOs, Ballmer has
presented a particularly high profile of late. On Oct. 11, he headlined
Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 rollout in New York City. And throughout 2010, his
keynotes at a number of events have detailed Microsoft's efforts to retool
itself as a mobile-focused, cloud-driven company.
However, 2010 has also come with its share of spectacular
crash-and-burns. Microsoft's board of directors recently decided to award
Ballmer only half his possible financial compensation for the year, citing the
company's eroding market-share in mobile and its failed Kin phones initiative.
The board did cite Microsoft's strong performance under Ballmer in more
traditional product areas, including the release and marketing of Windows
When asked by Gartner analysts whether he had contemplated
retirement, Ballmer enthusiastically torpedoed the notion.
"I've got a lot of energy and passion for what I'm doing,"
he said. "If I ever thought there was a day when the company would be better
off without me, I'd leave that day."
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.