Ballmer: Biggest Launch Ever

Q&A: The Microsoft CEO discusses why he feels this is a new day for Microsoft, as the company announces the availability of Windows Vista, Office 2007 and Exchange 2007.

Microsoft announced the availability of Windows Vista, Office 2007 and Exchange 2007 for businesses on Nov. 30, an event company CEO Steve Ballmer said was the "biggest launch weve ever done."

After delivering a media address at the Nasdaq Stock Exchange in New York to celebrate the product availability, Ballmer sat down with eWEEK Senior Editor Peter Galli to talk about why he feels this is a new day for Microsoft, developers and its customers.

He also talked about the way software will be delivered in the future and how services enablement within Windows would play out. This is part one of that interview. To read part two, click here.

I have been talking to a lot of developers and customers, some of them skeptical, and they are asking how the release of these three key products and the associated 30 technologies brings a new day. To them it is more of the same: more products, greater cost and complexity for them to integrate, deploy and manage. What do you tell those people?

I would say a couple of things, particularly to the developers. Number one, we are actually making building powerful applications simply far easier. We have more machinery for developers to take advantage of.

I think we have done a good job on integration, so not only is there more machinery there, it is relatively simple for a developer to stitch together and really put in place a solution that can get people awfully excited.

At the end of the day, the biggest advance that ever happens in software development is more reusable pieces for people, and I think we are doing a very good job on that, whether its the presentation foundation, being able to use Office as a development platform, what weve done with Excel and SQL for business intelligence, search, etc.

On the flipside, for folks who are involved in IT and will think about deploying these things, on that dimension, which is one of the least glamorous aspects of the new end-user facing product, but if you look at what weve done with System Center Configuration Management, operation management, what weve done with the Forefront security technologies, both at the server and the client, what weve done in Vista itself around security, image management, USB technologies, I actually think we have taken huge strides forward to make it simpler.

/zimages/6/28571.gifTo read more about the buzz surrounding Vistas ship date, click here.

At the end of the day, the simplest thing to do from a deployment standpoint is to deploy nothing new; on the other hand, from a business perspective, people have needs for new business capabilities and functions.

We have given them a lot out of the box as well as great tools to developers to put that stuff in place, along with a powerful infrastructure for IT to take care of it all.

Do you think people want some of their technology to be delivered increasingly as add-ons rather than added and integrated into the core kernel. How do you decide what goes into the kernel and what is made an add-on?

People want things to work well, and I dont mean to be silly, but they want things to work well. Integrated can be integrated in a commercial sense or not.

Integrated can be modular or not, but if people do want things they want them to work together and to work together well.

I think what we have done with the product line here, particularly for the business customer, is really very good. Theres a basic SharePoint and theres a SharePoint that has a set of enterprise add-on capabilities. Same thing with Exchange and Windows and Office.

So I think that we have tried to find the correct line between everything in one product and things that plug together easily and give customers more flexibility and modularity.

In a way, it is an interesting question: Some days people say we have too much built in, and now you are asking me in a sense if we have too little built in.

They need to work together technically, whether stuff is built in or not and everything else is a combination of simplicity, choice, pricing and a variety of issues of that ilk.

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