Ballmer: Microsoft Is Intent to Deliver Value

CEO shares view of Vista, Office.

Microsoft Corp.s professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles last week was perhaps the Redmond, Wash., companys most important event of the year, as officials try to sell developers on the value of creating new applications for the companys next generation of products. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer talked with eWEEK Senior Editor Peter Galli at the show about these upcoming products.

A lot of enterprises are unconvinced or unaware of the benefits Windows Vista will bring them. What do you tell them is compelling for them in Vista?

I always talk about the security, reliability and performance benefits, which are the underlying benefits to IT. Performance and management benefits are harder to sell. I also talk to them about the new kinds of applications they can do with the Windows Presentation Foundation, Internet Explorer 7 and "Atlas." I also talk to them about the user benefits.

You talked recently about extra value-added high-end versions for Windows Vista and Office. Customers are questioning how you can differentiate and add value to these products even more. Can you explain your thinking in that regard?

I got a little ahead of the troops in talking about the Enterprise Edition of Vista. There are features and capabilities that enterprises want that are really not that interesting outside of the enterprise. There are capabilities I know that our enterprise customers want that make a lot less sense anywhere else, and we will introduce those in the Enterprise Edition. But there are concerns about down-level applications and compatibility and the way you image and build and distribute this stuff.

Do you think enterprises will be willing to pay more for that specific technology?

We havent said what the packaging and pricing is. I have just said that it is additional value and we will figure out a way to let the enterprise get that value. You dont think about this in the context of some big pricing change to Windows for enterprises. Its more complex and nuanced than that.

Some Microsoft critics say that many of the features in "Longhorn" already exist in other operating systems. How do you respond to that?

I dont hear that from enterprise customers. They dont look at the Mac. They just dont. Some people will say some of the features are kissing cousins to features theyve seen elsewhere, and that is true. Im not apologetic about the fact that we should, in a way that doesnt offend anyone elses intellectual property, study and learn and benefit from the work others have done.