Ballmers e-mail is the latest in an ongoing series of communications from Microsoft Corp.s top executives addressing issues important to their customers and to the technology industry.
It is also the latest salvo by the Redmond, Wash., firm to address the growing competitive threat of open-source software and the Linux operating system.
In its latest 10-K filing to the SEC (U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission) in September, Microsoft said it was facing growing pressure from open-source software across every segment of its business—a competitive threat that could have significant consequences for its financial future.
In this latest e-mail, Ballmer said customers across the globe are asking the same questions of Microsoft staff members, namely whether an open-source platform really provides a long-term cost advantage compared with Windows, and which platform offers the more secure computing environment.
Customers expressed their growing concern about IP (intellectual property) indemnification and how best to minimize risk, while also wanting to know the best migration alternative for moving from an expensive Unix platform, he said.
But Microsoft faces competition on that front from IBM and Hewlett-Packard Co., both of which have solutions designed to help customers and ISVs move away from Unix—mostly from Sun Microsystems Inc.s SPARC/Solaris—and onto Linux.
In his e-mail, Ballmer directed customers to the companys controversial Get the Facts Web site and used the sites examples of case studies and research— many of which were sponsored and paid for by Microsoft— to validate the premise of his e-mail. Essentially, he said, "The Windows platform today offers an unmatched level of value, applications availability, simplicity, security and productivity."