Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s answer to Apple’s revolutionary iPad: Clueless gobbledygook

The following is a partial transcript of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer from the company’s Financial Analyst Meeting on July 29. 2010:

Now, we’ve got some other competitive actions coming back, and we’ll talk about slates and tablets and blah, blah, blah, blah…

Today, kind of I’d say one of the top issues on my mind, let alone on your minds, one of the top issues on my mind, is, hey, there is a category that we’ve had Windows on for actually a long time. We’ve had Windows 7 on, tablets and slate machines now for a number of years, and Apple has done an interesting job of putting together a synthesis and putting a product out, and in which they’ve — they sold certainly more than I’d like them to sell, let me just be clear about that. We think about that. We think about that in competitive sense. And for us, then, the job is to say, Okay, we have a lot of IP, we have a lot of good software in this area, we’ve done a lot of work on ink and touch and everything else — we have got to make things happen. Just like we had to make things happen on netbooks, we’ve got to make things happen with Windows 7 on slates. And we are in the process of doing that as we speak. We’re working with our hardware partners, we’re tuning Windows 7 to new slate hardware designs that they’re bringing them to market. And, yeah, you’re going to get a lot of cacophony. There will be people who do things with other operating systems. But we’ve got the application base, we’ve got the user familiarity. We’ve got everything on our side if we do things really right.

We’ll get a boost sometime after the new year when Intel brings its new Oak Trail processor to market. Oak Trail is designed to be lower power. Lower power is good in a lot of ways. It leads to longer battery life, no fan, lower kind of noise levels, a lot of less weight — a lot of things that people like. And as focused as we are on this category, our partners are also focused in on delivering the systems and the chips that will enable kind of our architecture to continue and our software product to continue to move on.

So, we think about these devices and I don’t think there really is one size that fits all. I don’t think everybody wants a slate. I’ve been to too many meetings with journalists who’d spend the first 10 minutes of the meeting setting up their iPad to look like a laptop. 
Laptops actually are well designed for a lot of things. I notice they are all light. In fact, if you look around this room, they all weigh zero pounds, because they’re just sitting on the table, you are not holding them and you don’t set them up when you want to type, and they prop up — they have good attributes. But some people are going to want that form factor. Some people are going to want probably a screen that they take with them and maybe they throw it back into the keyboard. Some people are going to want a device that is screen and keyboard that spins around for inking purposes. Some people are going to want things very light or very cheap or very expensive or very powerful. All of those things are going to be important, and we’ve got a push right now — right now — with our hardware partners.

Some of you will say, well, when? When? And I say, As soon as they’re ready. They’ll be shipping as soon as they are ready. And it is job one urgency around here. Nobody is sleeping at the switch. And so we are working with those partners, not just to deliver something, but to deliver products that people really want to go buy.

There’s been, you know, a lot of action, some of which we talked about in the past that may or may not ship, new things that will ship. And then there will be things that will get updated and upgraded as Oak Trail comes to market. We do think the fact that we invested in touch, we’ve invested not only in touch, but we’ve invested in ink — I think ink is kind of a nice thing. I notice a number of people in this room are taking notes, some with a pen, some are typing. Notes are still a pretty good thing. Mark-up, annotation — we’ve got a huge investment in ink, in addition to touch. You will see us try to bring those things together over the course of the next months and beyond to really deliver the sort of slates and convertibles that I hope people will be very excited about.

Link to the full transcript (in .docx, no less), webcast (.wmv), and the obligatory PowerPoint presentation, here.

Fortune’s Phillip Elmer-Dewitt has also posted a partial transcript of Ballmer’s post-presentation Q&A:

…Are we going to see slate? Yes. What processor are they going to have? They are going to have an Intel architecture processor at least in any foreseeable future. Are they going to run Windows? Yeah. Will it be tuned? Yes! And we are going to sell like crazy. We are going to market like crazy. We have devices that will run more applications, that have as much content, that have anything you want on the planet. And we have an ecosystem of developers that know how to write applications for that thing. Believe me, as I think everybody knows, you can buy two PCs for the price of one iPad — two netbooks today for the price of one iPad. So, people are sitting there over-celebrating bomb costs and blah, blah, blah. We and Intel can get our job done and know how to make money. There’s good money for everybody in the ecosystem to go make. I talked about power. We’ve got work we have to do with hardware partners, with Intel. There’s certainly some work to be done there. And over time where we go is where we go. But at least in the timeframe that which anybody does these models, for example, let’s go. Let’s go and we’ll be in market as soon as we can with new devices, whether that’s, you know, really, really soon or just really pretty soon. I’m going to wait until I have the device that I want to hand you and tell you to go use, or a collection of devices. I think that would be the appropriate time to say it is time. But it ain’t a long time from now. Pardon my English…

On the netbook, nor the slate, if it’s two weeks one way or the other, or it’s a month, I mean, let’s not speculate, let’s merely say when you get your Windows 7 machine, it will print. Let’s just start with that. I mean some people actually like to print every now and then. Ours will print. I’m not trying to say that other guys aren’t doing good work. I’m not saying that. We’ve got to ‑‑ come on, every day. Every day you come to work you have to prove yourself, prove yourself, prove yourself. We’ll prove ourselves. …

I relish the competition. I relish holding up those couple of machines today that I wanted to hand you. It’s not today. I’ll relish doing it tomorrow. Bring on ‑‑ particularly if with the application base, with the tools that we have, with the user understanding and momentum and everything going on, we can’t compete with ‑‑ particularly whatever the weird collection of Android machines is going to look like, shame on us.

Apple is Apple. They’re always a little tougher to compete with. They’re a really good competitor, and tend to be a really high-priced competitor. People worried a little bit about our bottom costs. They’ve got a lot of margin in those devices, which creates a lot of room in which to operate. Okay. We’ve competed with Apple before. I talked about that.

We’ve been competing with Macs, and I notice in this audience you get one profile for the 93 percent of people almost who agree with us every day about laptops. We’re going to have things that should be interesting to them. That doesn’t mean it’s not going to be exciting. That doesn’t mean you’re not going to have to pay attention to shareholders. It certainly means we’ve got to pay attention. But, at the end of the day kind of what makes life kind of interesting, kind of fun, and you’re going to see very interesting things.

MacDailyNews Take: We must do everything possible to encourage Microsoft shareholders to keep this clueless, hopelessly overmatched man on the bridge of his rudderless, sinking ship for as long as possible. We have a good chance, since any MSFT shareholder who was not in a catatonic state would have demanded his head the day HP bought Palm for their OS. There is no greater vote of no confidence than HP jumping ship. That was the day Ballmer, if he wasn’t totally delusional, should have begun researching retirement villas. But the MSFT shareholders didn’t even seem to notice! Thankfully, we continue pray that Steve Ballmer remains Microsoft CEO for as long as it takes.

A video?! Sounds like a typical, albeit particularly weak, Microsoft vaporware dog and pony show meant to freeze a market in which Microsoft and their “partners” have repeatedly failed (or, more likely, a market that Microsoft et al. cannot even imagine) and that Apple will, with history as our guide, revolutionize (or create) and then utterly dominate as a slew of also-rans scramble to produce half-assed copies. Expect Microsoft’s presentation to be purposely vague (“Features can and will change before release,” Ballmer will mention), so that they can watch Apple’s tablet presentation and begin their process of copying poorly yet again.MacDailyNews Take on the eve of Microsoft and HP’s “unveiling” of their “slate PC,” January 05, 2010

“It’s not a ‘booklet,’ it’s a ‘vaporlet.’ So, why is this ‘astounding’ CG imagery being emitted right now? Are Microsoft worried that a real device is coming soon from another company?”MacDailyNews Take on the day “Courier” was supposedly “leaked” by Gizmodo, September 23, 2009


  1. “…our partners are also focused in on delivering the systems and the chips that will enable kind of our architecture to continue and our software product to continue…”

    Kind of sounds like “the folks that make a lot of money off our broad user base will continue to support out aging and outdated technology until there’s no money left in it for them. Then we, and our customer base, are screwed.”

  2. Shhh. I’m being recruited to run M$. They told me in no uncertain terms that ANYone could do a better job than the clown they’ve got in charge now.

    I’ll keep you posted.

    Olmecmystic ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”cool smile” style=”border:0;” />

  3. “we have got to make things happen. Just like we had to make things happen on netbooks”
    ??? umm ok? examples would be nice.

    “We’ll get a boost sometime after the new year when Intel brings its new Oak Trail processor to market.”
    Isn`t great to have someone to blame?

    “Some of you will say, well, when? When? And I say, As soon as they’re ready.”
    That means never, considering that not a single version of Windows was/is actually ready.

    Same spin different day.

  4. The King has no clothes.

    I’ll bet he is so ensconced in palatial comfort that he doesn’t even use the competitor’s products either, to know what he is up against.

  5. “You will see us try to bring those things together over the course of the next months and beyond to really deliver the sort of slates and convertibles that I hope people will be very excited about.”

    CORRECTION: “You will see us try to bring those things together over the course of the next months and beyond. . . and fail.”

    There, that’s better.

  6. Such a rich fantasy life he leads. I`m willing to bet he`s got a custom skinned version of World of Warcraft where he plays an orc warrior named B`allmor. The only character in the game that dual-wields +10 office chairs.

  7. If it were just a question of tuning a desktop OS for us on a “slate” then Apple would have just put OS X on it, with some bits stripped out. That quite clearly isn’t what they did, sure they’ve used a lot of the fundamental underpinnings of OSX, but they redesigned everything else to suit the way people will use it. If Ballmer can’t even see that then there’s no point even looking at any of their other problems as it’s a fundamental error that nothing else can save.

  8. There are several volumes of “Bushisms” (phrases uttered by the former American president that don’t make much sense, or don’t mean what the speaker intended). This guy makes those “Bushisms” books look like deep philosophy.

    May MS hold onto him until he finally signs and files the bankruptcy protection request for MS.

  9. singidunum,

    You don’t want to go there:

    “The reforms we seek would bring greater competition, choice, savings and inefficiencies to our health care system.” -Barack Obama, July 20, 2009

    “UPS and FedEx are doing just fine, right? It’s the Post Office that’s always having problems.” -Barack Obama, attempting to make the case for government-run healthcare, Aug. 11, 2009

    “I’ve now been in 57 states — I think one left to go.” -Barack Obama, May 9, 2008

    Let’s just call it even and no more political stuff in this feedback, okay?

    Is he serious, if I read one more sentence with the word ‘ink’ or ‘shareholders’ in it….HOLY S***!

    God Luck Windows, good luck. Maybe windows 8 will do the trick. NOT!

  11. I have to believe that if there was a video of this, you would hear the quiet giggles and soft laughters in the distance. If someone was trying to drink something they would be blowing it out both nostrils. Doesn’t this sound like the captain of the Titanic telling everyone not to worry, this ship can’t sink as it is going down?

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