Ballmer declares war on Yahoo! and Google

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has promised a wave of new product innovation in the coming months. He also promised to deliver a new range of subscription-based services and ‘Win on the web’ in the same way Microsoft has won on the desktop.

Ballmer made the remarks in a speech to a meeting of financial analysts. In an upbeat mood, Ballmer told the audience ‘we’re applying our own Moore’s Law almost to product innovation. In the next year our product pipeline will double that of the past three years. You’ll see new products, Windows Mobile 5, the beta of Windows Vista, and Office 12. You’ll see new releases of Windows Server, Microsoft TV, and many, many other products during the course of this next six months’.

He also dismissed claims that what he called the company’s ‘anchor businesses’ of Windows, Office and Server were slow growth sectors and that the R&D spent on new areas like search and games hasn’t paid off.

‘We could focus only on our original anchor business, or anchor businesses, and grow modestly, or we could set our sights higher and aim for greater growth. We chose the path for greater growth. We’ll achieve that growth not only by focusing on our anchor businesses, but by competing and winning in a wide range of new services, many of them based on advertising or subscription revenue, and by creating a new portfolio of products that meet the growing needs of our customers.’

Ballmer also sees ways of adding extra ‘value added’ versions of its core products that will convince both end users and larger corporations to pay extra.

‘We have plans in the Windows Vista generation to introduce an enterprise edition,’ he said. ‘Windows Media Centre drives higher price point, new value, in the home. We have plans in the next generation for something even higher-end in Office that we call Office Premium. We think of a new concept that we call the Office Server. It will have associated with it a new premium client access license. ‘

Microsoft also sees a huge gain to be had simply by getting everyone who uses its software to pay for it. He pointed out that piracy in China ‘ is well, well, well above 90 percent’. By getting the rapidly growing Chinese economy to pay for its copies of Windows will add ‘billions of dollars of growth opportunity merely by selling the value of legitimate software’.

In case anyone doubted Microsoft’s intentions on the Internet, Ballmer declared the company’s intention to be the biggest player bar none. ‘ We really are going to win on the Web… if you get nothing else out of the whole day today, we are very, very, very serious and committed about driving our presence with that community, versus any and all competitors in the marketplace. It is a big opportunity for us. It is a job-one priority for our company, this transformation to services and the competition that it brings with Yahoo! and Google and everybody else.’

We have been warned.

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