Ballmer Balks on CE .Net in Deposition

By Spencer F. Katt  |  Posted 2002-03-11

Whether youre Bill Clinton or the head of a large corporation like Enron, it seems the best defense in any legal matter is to act like you just arrived on the planet.

In a recent deposition of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for the ongoing antitrust action between the Redmondians and the litigating states that refused to accept the proposed DOJ settlement, Ballmer was asked if he was familiar with a current offering called Windows CE .Net. Knowing Ballmer, El Gato assumed the product, a real-time operating system for building smart mobile devices, would be described by the companys biggest cheerleader as an integral part of its .Net strategy.

But His Hirsuteness almost choked on a furball when he heard Ballmer reply that he was not familiar with the product but was sure he probably knew it under some code name that had since been changed. "Im not sure if thats the product we just shipped or the product were getting ready to ship. I dont know," said the suddenly forgetful CEO.

The product, previously code-named Talisker, shipped in early January, remembered the Kitty, who now felt like he was watching "Jeopardy" and actually knew more answers than the contestants for once.

"I dont know. I dont know if its in the market or not in the market. I dont—I believe its upcoming, but I dont know," continued the man who has often been credited as being the mastermind of arguably the worlds most aggressive marketing machine.

When asked if he had ever seen a document titled "Guide for Microsoft Windows CE .Net" that had been pulled off the Internet, Ballmer replied, "Never."

Asked about functionalities that a user could get with the product, Ballmer again cited ignorance. "I dont know. Im not expert on the configuration options, nor—nor do I know, frankly, whether weve shipped the product." "Hopefully, Steve knows about the Secure Computing initiative," laughed the Lynx.

How many senior exec resignations does it take to put a CEO in the hospital? "At least four," mused the Mouser. It seems Spencers prediction in his Feb. 18 column that key operators would be leaving Novell has come to pass. "Pretty soon, Vice Chairman Chris Stone will have the whole joint to himself," cackled the Kitty, as he pictured the exec cuing up Bob Seger on the company intercom and sliding across empty floors like Tom Cruise in "Risky Business." (Seriously, the Katt wishes CEO Jack Messman a quick recovery.)

Spencer F. Katt can be reached at

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