Bullish Ballmer defends Microsoft record

Under-fire Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer has defended his record at Microsoft on a rare visit to London.

Bullish Ballmer defends Microsoft record

The Microsoft CEO was only awarded half of his maximum bonus last week, with the company’s board penalising Ballmer for losing share in the mobile market and its failure to address emerging form factors, such as tablet PCs.

Yet, after delivering a speech on cloud computing at the London School of Economics this morning, Ballmer issued a forthright defence of his company’s performance.

We’re a company that will make $26 billion pre-tax, so I’m not going to be apologetic for our financial results

“We’re a company that will make $26 billion pre-tax [this year], so I’m not going to be apologetic for our financial results,” Ballmer told the audience.

“We’ve seen very few companies stay at a high level for a long time,” Ballmer later added. “I’d put us and IBM on that list. I kinda like what we’re doing right now.”

Ballmer admitted the company’s failings in the mobile market, but said next week’s launch of Windows Phone 7 will help reverse the company’s fortunes. “On the pocket side we got out to an early jump, but we had competitors come back at us in a way I’m not excited about,” Ballmer said to the amusement of the gathered audience of journalists and academics.

“My belief is that when you look at the product [Windows Phone 7] in the coming weeks, people will say ‘wow’,” he said.

The Microsoft boss was also confident the company could make up lost ground in the tablet market. “You’ll see slates with Windows on them, you’ll see them this Christmas,” Ballmer claimed, when asked whether Apple iOS and Google Android had harmed Windows’ chances in the tablet market. “We certainly have a superior device,” Ballmer added.

Cloudy forecast

Ballmer arrived in London as part of a European tour to espouse the benefits of cloud computing. The Microsoft chief executive claimed that the IT industry was on the cusp of another revolution that would see the cloud combined with a battery of intelligent devices.

“Our industry is going through quite a wave of invention, powered by one major phenomenon… the shift to the cloud,” Ballmer said.

“The cloud wants smarter devices,” he added, claiming that the prophecy that PCs and mobiles would become dumb clients was provably false. “People want smarter devices, but smarter devices that can connect with the cloud… in intelligent ways.”

Yet, while devices will become more sophisticated, the data centres that power the cloud infrastructure will become simpler and easier to manage, Ballmer predicted. “A data centre should be a shipping container that you put under a roof to protect from water,” he said. “You plug in some electricity and an internet connection [and that’s it].”

“When you build an app, you have to build it in a way that nobody needs to be around to manage it,” he added.

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