October 19, 2005 10:15 AM PDT

Ballmer: Trusting Vista, battling Google

ORLANDO, Fla.--Steve Ballmer wants you to know one thing: He never throws chairs.

"I have never, honestly, thrown a chair in my life," Microsoft's CEO said in a morning keynote at Gartner's Symposium/ITxpo here. Ballmer was responding to a comment regarding well-publicized testimony by a former employee that Ballmer had tossed furniture and vowed to "kill Google" when informed of the employee's decision to leave Microsoft for Google.

Ballmer also touched on a variety of areas related to Microsoft's competition with Google. The software maker will compete "the good old-fashioned way, with innovation," he said. "There are many things--who knows?--Google may or may not do. If you read the papers today, other than curing cancer, Google will do everything."


He pointed to the strength of Microsoft's MSN brand outside of the United States as proof that the company is making strides in the Web search market. "People say 'I'm going to MSN you' in Holland and Korea. Not here. But globally, more people spend time online with MSN than any other site," he said.

Overall, Ballmer said Microsoft needs to continue to invest in research and development to deal with open-source software, Google, IBM and other competitors. But in years past, that sort of investment has been spread disproportionately between the companies' divisions. "The top priority for us is to be an innovative company. We need a variety of ways to innovate. We have gone through a period where we have not had all of the muscles working evenly, if you will."

Microsoft is "at the beginning of 12 months of the greatest innovation pipeline we have ever had," Ballmer said. "Vista, Office, Windows Mobile, (Internet Explorer) IE 7...I can point to a lot of things. We are in the middle of the best pipeline we have ever had as a company."

Microsoft on Monday launched an update to a community-based preview release of Windows Vista, which includes a number of new features, such as efforts to improve the Web browser and make the operating system more resilient.

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Steve Ballmer, CEO, Microsoft

Vista is the first major update to the client version of Windows since 2001. The final version of Vista, which has also been known by its Longhorn code name, is due out in the second half of next year, Microsoft has said. A server version of the operating system is expected in 2007.

"I'm going to trust Vista on day one," Ballmer said. "I bet most people in this audience will trust it day one--on their home computer," he joked. "I'm trying to be honest among friends."

Ballmer acknowledged Vista's long gestation period and said it has taken Microsoft so long because the company had consciously decided to add several major features to the operating system. "Why have Vista and Longhorn taken so long? We made some big bets," he said.

The company scaled back its plans for Vista in August 2004 after it became clear that the development plan was too ambitious, Ballmer said. "We made a call 14 months ago...that the integration challenges of bringing together a new operating system with a new presentation, file system, communications system...and have all of those things codependent" was too much of a challenge, he said.

On software licensing, Ballmer said the company has made strides in simplifying its terms, but more work is needed. "The simplest thing we have today is our enterprise agreement. Used to take two years of postgrad education (to understand it), now it's a ninth grade education. We know we have a lot more work to do in terms of tools and license forms," he said.

Ballmer said the company continues to evaluate new client software programming techniques, such as AJAX, which is growing in popularity. "We think most users like the benefits of a rich local environment. I don't think that will go away. AJAX only lets you send Javascript down. You will see that extend to other capabilities in the Windows environment," he said.

The company is taking some cautious first steps to add new Web programming tools. Microsoft last month made available to developers a set of application programming interfaces to its MSN and other public Web sites. The software company hopes that developers assemble new applications that build on those sites--a technique used successfully at Google and at other Web companies to promote their properties.

The plan has raised questions over whether Microsoft eventually intends to promote the Web--via MSN and other properties--as a development platform in addition to Windows. Some analysts, such as Thomas Bittman at Gartner, say this is likely, although Microsoft will need to tread carefully so as not to diminish the appeal of Windows and Office, the company's most valuable franchises.


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Gates should have stayed on top
Vista is turning out to be a joke, along with a lot of embedded DRM. And what sort of a name is that? Vista?

I have this feeling that ANY sort of change no matter how small, takes months to work it's way through the system at Microsoft. Too much red tape!
Posted by bobby_brady (765 comments )
Reply Link Flag
This is what everyone said about XP
Think back to XP's launch and people were predicting the very same things and guess what, nothing changed but that everyone I know is bought XP.

Lets not forget folks that while many US folks might not like MS, they make most of their money from the world and not the US.

Finaly you should check out this marketwatch video that shows how far Google has to go to supplant Microsoft <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.marketwatch.com/tvradio/playerFull.asp?siteid=mktw&#38;guid=%7B77122EC4%2D80C6%2D4256%2D8197%2D71F043A4350B%7D" target="_newWindow">http://www.marketwatch.com/tvradio/playerFull.asp?siteid=mktw&#38;guid=%7B77122EC4%2D80C6%2D4256%2D8197%2D71F043A4350B%7D</a>

Posted by (43 comments )
Link Flag
I'm sorry for my glaring ignorance, but what are the main big improvements in Vista over XP. Ms keep on talking about taking bets and pushing the envelope, but what exactly is going to entice me to upgrade to Vista. If someone can just highlight the main improvements I'll be grateful
Posted by Gerry1981 (13 comments )
Reply Link Flag
So would the rest of the world...
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Link Flag
Well for starters
You get cute little graphics all over the screen. Now that must have eaten up all the programmers time. I'm sure the executives at MSFT made several meetings just to discuss title bar color!

There's also the new search. Ooops, that's been yanked.

Well, there's always the new embedded DRM. I wonder if we'll even be able to play MP3 files. We'll have to ask Hollywood if that was allowed.
Posted by bobby_brady (765 comments )
Link Flag
If your serious
There is some good info at
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.winsupersite.com/showcase/longhorn_preview_2005.asp" target="_newWindow">http://www.winsupersite.com/showcase/longhorn_preview_2005.asp</a>

The main problem is that MS, when it announced Longhorn (now Vista), promised everything; the moon and the stars. Now, no one is really sure what is going to ship with Vista. MS keeps adding and pulling (and sometimes re-adding) features left and right.
The biggest promise of Vista will be the ability to snap-in components to the overall architecture. WinFS may not ship with Vista, but will be seamlessly added in later. If MS can pull off that type of plug-in design, that alone might be worth the upgrade.
Posted by catchall (245 comments )
Link Flag
Microsoft imitates or buys technology. They have never innovated and thet never will. They can market their product but their products have never been innovative.
Posted by (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
RE: Innovate
Hehe.. MS following in Cisco's footsteps --Innovate by more "acquisitions". Recently saw an advert here in the UK for Cisco's IP phone and the words "We Innovate" seem to sneek in somehow.
Posted by (5 comments )
Link Flag
Yeah Nico
Exchange And Active Directory arent Innovative, not at all. And dont give me the Novell NDS RipOff argument, AD and Exchange Are better than any other featureless product out there and easier to use. Not to mention their Developement Invironment which is superior to any other platform. VS2005 burns up anything coming out of Apples camp &lt;xcode tools&gt; or the linux camp. How about the backwards compatability that most OS's dont have, Or the emulation at 100 % performance using the compatability layers..Or what they have donated to the TCP/IP Stack, or what they have contributed to the friggin world as a whole considering no other single company has ever capitalized on the hundreds of hardware manufactures &lt;I'm still not sure thats good or bad, considering most problems that plague windows arent software related, but hardware&gt;. I could go on and on but you get the Pic. MS isnt a perfect company, but doesnt every company strive to be the leader in their respective industries? I think so. And most companies stive to do whatever it takes to get the job done, &lt;legal else illegal&gt;() I'm very open to other platforms and have used many others (Have a mac too) But Windows does somethings better than others and V.V....So whatever
Posted by SystemsJunky (409 comments )
Link Flag
In addition to that . . .
What about ASP.Net, the current Linq Project (XLing and QLinq), the .Net Platform, and developing a complete OS from scatch (without building upon any ready made work except theirs)?

I think that is pretty coool for a company striving to get it (though they almost have it).
Posted by folsco (55 comments )
Link Flag
Check out what . . .
. . . Miguel De Icaza (a prominent OS figure and the brain behind GNome) has to say on Microsoft's New Platform.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.ondotnet.com/pub/a/dotnet/2001/07/09/icaza.html?page=1" target="_newWindow">http://www.ondotnet.com/pub/a/dotnet/2001/07/09/icaza.html?page=1</a>

Posted by folsco (55 comments )
Link Flag
I can't seem to find ...
... any reason to anticipate Vista or anything else MS is supposedly
planning to bring to market. Ballmer seems to be ducking the
issues of 'what' and 'when', and if he doesn't know, then MS is in
real trouble. Of course, maybe he does know. That information just
might not bode well for MS's future.

XP sounds more and more like the end of MS operating systems on
my PC's.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Reply Link Flag
MSN Search is coming on strong
The last chapter has not been written in the search game. Microsoft MSN Search is every bit as good as Google in terms of size, speed, and relevance. Microsoft has come from behind several times before. I wouldn't bet against them now. MSN Search is just getting started.

I wrote a blog on AltaVista, Excite, and GoTo.com, and why they lost. I was at AltaVista in the late 90's and experienced it first hand. Read more here <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://dondodge.typepad.com/the_next_big_thing/2005/10/the_search_an_i.html" target="_newWindow">http://dondodge.typepad.com/the_next_big_thing/2005/10/the_search_an_i.html</a>
Posted by Don_Dodge (64 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Every bit? Are you trolling?
My gosh any head to head comparison between google and MSN has embarrassing for Microsoft in my opinion.

What and how did you determine their relevance is even remotely close? My first test was to type in "Microsoft Sucks" and see what hits came up. More than half the "hits" (if you can call them that) defended Microsoft... Not exactly what I was looking for.

Testing again just now for "Microsoft Sucks"... I will grant that their search is somewhat improved but I have no desire read Scoble's Blog about how MS is great.

Let's try again with MSN sometime December next year, okay?
Posted by UntoldDreams (91 comments )
Link Flag
I threw I chair once... well actually,
I kicked it.. and it broke.. so I broke the chair into more peices and through it in the neibors trash.. luckily my mom never found out.. I thought for sure she would notice one of the chairs missing.. maybe she did but never broght it to my wandering attention... oh well, I felt pretty bad about it.. and I have never destroyed any furnature since..

I recommend that people through a chair or something once in while.. go break something.. release.. its healthy.. its human
Posted by (187 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Posted by J_Satch (571 comments )
Link Flag
Microsoft hasn't innovated in years
and Vista is the content industries wet dream. It's got DRM built right in the OS. It's designed to make your computer take orders from Microsoft and the content industry instead of you. Very few monitors currently support the DRM Vista requires to play HD content.
Posted by unknown unknown (1951 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Who cares about the OS?
Does anybody honestly still care about adding more features to the Windows OS? At least for home purposes it seems like a total waste. The features they're trumping are also largely irrelevant for servers. Maybe workstations would benefit?

I don't care about the OS I care about applications. When is Microsoft going to give a moneyback quanrantee that all future OS releases will be backwards compatible? I might upgrade for that. I'm still running Win 2000 and it's more than fine as long I can keep malware off it (using 3 different programs and various internet BB's for help). Basically all of the content that I'm interested in is on the web. Does Vista allow you to surf the web? Does it work with Google Earth? If yes, then it's only as good as Windows 2000. Desktop search?!? Big deal. Is Microsoft trying to make the case that the reason that search in Outlook, where every message is stored in a database file, is such a piece of garbage is because the OS needs more features? That's a load of garbage. They're crazy. I cannot wait to see what Google can do with OpenOffice...
Posted by scdecade (329 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I think a lot of people care about the OS, that's the point. I would agree, however, that meaningless features should not take center stage. Rather, security and stability should be emphasized.
Posted by J_Satch (571 comments )
Link Flag
I see no features what-so-ever in Longhorn (I tried the old 5058 beta about a month ago so I still think of it as Longhorn) that accomplish anything I can't do with a program on XP Home. If I want to search emails indexed in a database, two words: Google Desktop. If I want to watch HD Movies on XP, one word: Winamp. Let's say I want a GUI with transparency, right? I have three words for that, too: Actual Windows Manager. There's no new features in Vista which I cannot accomplish by simply running a program with the exact same functionality on XP. Perhaps WinFS is a good addon...oh wait, THAT'S why I have Google Desktop!
Posted by mcadoar (14 comments )
Link Flag
"Microsoft is "at the beginning of 12 months of the greatest innovation pipeline we have ever had," Ballmer said. "Vista, Office, Windows Mobile, (Internet Explorer) IE 7...I can point to a lot of things. We are in the middle of the best pipeline we have ever had as a company.""

We have managed to steal more ideas and half-ass implament them than we have ever done in the past. With the new software releases we are working on brand new holes to let hackers in. We have also implament more tools to verify that you really paid us a lot of money for the right to use our software. However we made sure that pirates can easily bypass all our product verification process.

** By the way this is a joke.
Posted by System Tyrant (1453 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I don't Agree
You say that Microsoft is making new ways to let hackers in but I reckon that any OS as popular as MS Windows would be subject to the same flaws, the only reason that there arent many viruses and trojans on linux or Firefox, Opera etc. is becuase they are not popular and so they are not desireable targets for crackers.
Posted by nickbyfleet (21 comments )
Link Flag
Darn, you had me right up until the disclaimer... LOL
Posted by J_Satch (571 comments )
Link Flag
My Name is Steve and "one more thing"
Hey Ballmer, just because you share the same first name with
the other CEO who has managed to get tons of new product out
the door, doesn't mean you have anything to offer. Vista is two
years late, I don't need or want another version of Office, and all
I want on my cell phone is the ability to make a call.

I'm still running my Win2k PC and Office, and it works perfect
(except for having to often dodge viri and spyware, but what a
game, eh). Anyway, I see no reason to upgrade. In fact, if I have
to buy all new stuff anyway for your Vista, then I'm starting to
look at that new G5 Mac stuff and think "maybe".

Pfft to Microsoft. I'm tired of listening to you.
Posted by (174 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not upgrading?
A couple of folks have commented that they're content with Windows 2000. When did the discontent with Windows 98 force this upgrade? When Vista2010 comes out, these folks will be defending their Vista2006 installations.
Posted by AnguillaCat (3 comments )
Link Flag
Undelivered promises
If you could compile all of MS's vaporware, pulled features,
horribly missed deadlines, security holes, and poorly
implemented software, you would, quite literally fill a book.

Talk about the boy who cried wolf.

And "innovate" -- my arse. Not once. They can say all they want.
If innovating means offering new, helpful, and exclusive designs,
they've never done it. BTW, it's absolutely amazing that can't/
Posted by mgreere (332 comments )
Reply Link Flag
For all those Microsoft Bashers.
If MSFT is so awful then how come they are the most popular operating system manufacturer and software architects in the world?
Posted by nickbyfleet (21 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Clearly it's because they make the best software...

The software is good enough where it needs to be.

More importantly, it's the only real option for x86 pc's.

And remember that antitrust suit? They're not exactly fair
Posted by mgreere (332 comments )
Link Flag
Careful, you are in REAL DANGER...
If that bubble you obviously live in develops a leak, the sudden in-rush of REALITY, such as the real-facts behind "Microsofts-success", could prove to be quite devastating.
Posted by Gayle Edwards (262 comments )
Link Flag
Haven't you learned yet?
A hundred million computer users are WRONG! Microsoft got to where they are by sticking pins into a Netscape doll. If they had never existed we'd all be enjoying a problem-free existence on our Amiga desktops that connect to the VAX via Netware.

Well, we can dream can't we?
Posted by Betty Roper (121 comments )
Link Flag
Whatever, dude!
"If MSFT is so awful then how come they are the most popular
operating system manufacturer and software architects in the

Popular is not the word I would use. It gives the impression that
people actually use Windows because they like it. On the
contrary, most people use it because it is what comes installed
on the hardware they purchase. Quantity does not necessarily
equal quality.
Posted by The_Raven (50 comments )
Link Flag
Promotion story
First of all I'm going to say it: I am going to bash Microsoft.

Now, on to business. This story is nothing more than promotion for MS. More promises, which will probably never be more than Ballmer's rambling. Microsoft promised innovation on every version of windows since win95. And yet, the only truly innovative system was win95, because it was a break from the traditional DOS command line. 98 and ME was the same OS, built on top of DOS, with slightly different colors and a few new small applications like that thing for video editing. win2000 was more "innovative" because it introduced new security features. But not really innovative because those features were already available in Windows NT.

Now XP was truly the most "innovative" system of them all. It had a wonderful new set of colors! The start button was now GREEN! and the Taskbar BLUE! Not only that, it also had a default background of a beautiful green hill. No, in reality, XP did introduce some new features. I have seen some obscure CLI commands that don't work on previous versions of the OS. So there were a few innovations, but very few or very hidden that the common user would not notice.
Unfortunately, XP is known because of the security holes that have allowed some of the greatest viruses in recent computer history to spread, costing millions to companies that use MS software. Or, perhaps, those security holes had been there since earlier versions, but never been found. In any case, MS promised that XP was their safest and most reliable OS yet, but it was the one with the most exploited security holes. Their "safest and most reliable" promise was undelivered.

Now they are making this big fuss over Vista, their new "most innovative" OS. My very personal opinion is that they think if they throw around the word "innovation" enough, people will actually believe it and pay $240 for Vista when it is released (Note: that price is made up, as a criticism for MS Windows pricing scheme). And many people will. Heck, I was thinking of buying Vista, until I heard that MS is now a lackey of the music and movie industries, and wants to prevent me from watching the DVDs I want to watch on my PC. Oh yeah, that's innovation all right. The new feature: now MS controls what you see on your computer.

You say MS architects are the most popular in the world? Perhaps. But I'm sure they also rank pretty high in the most hated.
Posted by Sentinel (199 comments )
Link Flag
I think...
...it's called extortion, or in MS lingo, licensing.
Posted by J_Satch (571 comments )
Link Flag
Microsoft Bashing
"If MSFT is so awful then how come they are the most popular operating system manufacturer and software architects in the world?"

I suppose you would believe the world was flat if everyone in the world believed it.

I make more money than my neighbor. I'm smarter than him too I suppose.
Posted by rnatalli (2 comments )
Link Flag
This word is used quite liberally nowadays. Buzz word.

I'd like to know how IE7 is an innovation. It was the last browser
to offer pop-up blocking, last one to offer tabbed browsing.
It merely keeps up with the other ones...

Another thing I think sounds funny: When you read that such
and such product's latest version is "the best version yet..."
Sometimes they use it with cars: The new Honda Civic is the best
Civic yet... recommended by its manufacturer...
Chris Rock would say: "It's sup-host to be the best yet..."
Posted by deeplyaware (91 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I'll admit up front that I'm an OS X user, but I'm not in the camp
of one is 'better' than the other. I administer 30 XP boxes, along
with 5 OS X boxes, and find both equally stable. I personally
enjoy OS X more as a launch pad for the apps I use because I
find it less intrusive, simpler, and just plain more fun (a lack of
viruses, adware, and spyware doesn't hurt either...but that's not
a technology thing...just what OS is in hackers sights). The main
complaint that I could have for Windows is that it just tries too
hard to be everything to everyone...in and of itself. Now, my
complaint is also what is Windows strength. On a network
(especially a Windows based network) it is infinitely more
flexible than OS X, and I must say more stable, but as a desktop
environment, it is just too much. I could go on about the mess
called the registry(yes, I miss .ini files), and the way software
must scatter itself all over your hard drive for an installation, but
I won't. What I will say is that it seems that Vista is going to be
another major upgrade that attempts to be everything to
everyone, using mostly proprietary technology, and trying to
ram workflow, designed by a committee, down its users throats.
I am in complete control of our office environment, and chose
Windows as our foundation for its solid networking,
compatibility, and familiarity for our users. I have seen
absolutely nothing in Vista that is going to make our lives easier,
more productive, or happier. If Vista is more secure (really the
only reason I switched our office to XP), which I honestly doubt,
then maybe I'll give it a glance. I have found in the past though,
that when I have taken the plunge, and switched our servers
over to a new version, our previous version workstations began
to have compatibility hiccups...time to upgrade everyone (by
I guess my main gripe with any new OS version always is; forget
new features, functions and eye candy...just get my current
version, that I payed for to work flawlessly, and to make
sense...then let's talk.
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Well said
I couldn't agree more. (Although I do prefer XP more for its own merits).
Posted by EvlD99 (18 comments )
Link Flag
is it really dead?
I don't think it's the end for microsoft unless i see web apps that support drag and drop with ease and more user friedly interface. Though one thing I really hate about MS is their spam/spyware magnet IE which i dropped for Firebox (way to go mozilla) :) well at least i haven't seen any spyware at all over the last 6 or 7 months.
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
MSN vs. Google
Ballmer states,

"globally, more people spend time online with MSN than any other site."

However I noticed that www.netcraft.com has Google as the most popularly visited website worldwide.

No. 1 to be exact.
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Please learn how to read
If you would have been at all fimalar with Internet Site Staticits you would know that Ballmer is saying people spend more time on MSN, with TIME being the keyword.

Although I'm not sure what source he's referencing for his numbers but you can view "Time Per Person" from Nielsen NetRatings at <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.netratings.com/news.jsp?section=dat_to" target="_newWindow">http://www.netratings.com/news.jsp?section=dat_to</a>

BTW AOL (Timewarner) is ranked the highest but they have **** load of web site's they're counting in their metrics, time.com, cnn.com, aol.com and on an on.
Posted by (43 comments )
Link Flag
Apples to Oranges
What you missed was what Ballmer was referring
to: "In Holland they say, 'I'm going to MSN

Ballmer's talking about MSN being the preferred
instant-messaging service in many parts of
Europe. It's not in itself suprising since AOL
doesn't have the same penetration in Europe and
MSN instant-messenger is pre-installed on most
every computer you by.

In many countries, schools and students are
encouraged or required to use Linux instead and
MSN is also very well supported there (AIM and
Yahoo too, of course), so they benefit from the
appearance of openness.
Posted by Gleeplewinky (289 comments )
Link Flag
more pixie dust ...
Posted by Lolo Gecko (131 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Yet another one from Bullmer
this guy is full of BS :)
Posted by (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I wouldn't want his job
How come everytime I see a story about this guy he's making statements that -I- can pick holes in without even waiting for professional analysis? that kind of work must slowly kill your soul and professional pride
Posted by steviesteveo (29 comments )
Link Flag
Parallel universe.
I must have wound up in a parallel universe, one where you don't have to wait a couple of years after Microsoft have released a new O/S before installing it on anything important. So that Microsoft have had time to get the worst bugs out and there are proper drivers available for just about everything.

One where perhaps you don't get a big disappointment each time Microsoft realease a new O/S on finding that they have made the user interface even worse than it was before, moved stuff around for no apparent reason, and created even more nooks and crannies where the useful stuff is kept...
Posted by Jerry Dawson (125 comments )
Reply Link Flag

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