Microsoft's Ballmer Charts New Course

Microsoftis Steve Ballmer spoke to the changes coming at Microsoft amidst changes in the Internet, cloud computing, and open source, according to ChannelWeb on Wednesday. They are not what many expected. Mr. Ballmer also had some comments to make about Apple

Mr. Ballmeris comments were made at the Gartner Symposium/ITexpo being held this week in Orlando, FLa. For starters, he looked at the four models of computing dominant today, the Web, the PC, the enterprise, and entertainment.

"The truth is, nobody wants to give up any one of them," he said. "There are advantages to the Web model in the way it grew up, where you kind of click and run. Thereis advantages of the PC model in terms of the richness of the experience and the ability to mix and match and control what goes on between applications. Enterprises have to engage in a focus on security and reliability, compliance, management. And TVs and phones have their own messaging.... We need to bring those together."

Mr. Ballmer said that more and more computing will be done in the cloud, on useris behalf. However, not in the way some expect.

"Weire not going to move, in my opinion, to a world where everything is done on a very thin client," he said. "Youire going to have rich clients that are more effectively and seamlessly managed and updated and taken care of from the cloud."

Mr. Ballmer thinks that how quickly these are brought together will be at different rates in the consumer and business world. "We have a lot of competition that probably shares the same view... Some of the pretenders have no enterprise expertise. Thatis important. At the end of the day, people donit want to go backwards when it comes to presentation or word processing capabilities."

Mr. Ballmer suggested that there will never be a Web experience for Microsoft Office as good as a rich client-based system. A game, like World of Warcraft would fall into the same category.

"But you shouldnit be confused," he said. "If you want the full capabilities that Windows and the Mac have, you need what Windows and the Mac has. Youire going to want something that people think of a lot like an operating system that runs locally on the machine. Thereill be applications that use it fully, and thereill be applications to use a subset through the browser, or through SilverLight or Adobe or whatever."

Finally, when asked about roadmaps for Microsoftis increasing presence in music, video, entertainment, Mr. Ballmer said. "The other thing you have to assume is, the things that are really consumer-targeted, we probably wonit talk about the roadmap. Itis not that important to the enterprise customer. And the way the consumer market works, the element of surprise is actually of some value."