Ballmer: Microsoft Remains Strong
- By Scott Bekker
Despite having concluded the most difficult year in its
quarter-century history, Microsoft Corp.
remains strong, and will continue to lead in the software industry, according to
president and CEO Steve Ballmer.
Earnings were down significantly, and a court declared
Microsoft a monopoly that must be broken up, but Ballmer, who is nothing if not
an optimist, told a conference of financial heavyweights that he expects
Windows 2000 sales to grow, and other Microsoft initiatives to recapture some
of the company’s lost luster.
At a Morgan Stanley Dean Witter Internet conference in
Scottsdale, Ariz. on Monday, Ballmer said Microsoft “has a vision that is rooted in software, not in media, not in big box
iron; it’s rooted in the software business.”
That vision is still
as strong as ever, especially with continued adoption of Windows 2000, both on
the desktop and server, and new initiatives like the .NET framework, Ballmer
He made it a point
to assuage any fears of the rate of Windows 2000 adoption in the industry,
which has been disappointing to Microsoft. “Almost everybody buys some Windows
2000 server for something, and the question is when do we crack the next
application type. This year we’ll sell order of magnitude someplace between two
and a half million, three million Windows 2000 servers or Windows servers, NT
plus 2000. You know, if you take a look at Sun, Sun’s probably around 300,000
servers a year,” Ballmer said.
He also pointed to two products which he said should excite
investors - Whistler, the next generation of Windows, and the next version of
Office, dubbed Office 10, which is the first major Microsoft product to have a
Turning to another front, Ballmer said the biggest immediate
threat to Microsoft is not Sun, Oracle or AOL, but Linux. “I
think you have to rate competitors that threaten your core higher than you rate
competitors where you’re trying to take from them. So in some senses it puts
the Linux phenomenon… at the top of the list. That really is job one for us,
because that’s the threat to the Windows business,” Ballmer said. He listed Sun
and Oracle, and perhaps AOL, in the next tier of competition.
last Dec. 14 that earnings and revenue per share for quarter two were off
by 5 percent or 6 percent from projections, and it expects profits for the fiscal
year to be off by about 5 percent. Second quarter earnings will be released
Jan. 18. - Keith Ward
Check back with ENT Online for breaking coverage of the Microsoft earnings announcement Jan. 18.
Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.