“On July 9th, I did an onstage interview with Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer, at Microsoft’s annual Worldwide Partner Conference,” Rich Karlgaard reports for Forbes. “Immediately after the onstage interview, Ballmer and I retreated to the green room and had a quieter conversation.”
Ballmer: The launch of Windows 95 that was big for everybody, big for Microsoft, big for the industry. That’s when the PC hit the mainstream market, when the total size of the computer market grew up. People had a hard time learning DOS and everything else that came before it.
Forbes: Aren’t you forgetting the Macintosh in 1984?
Ballmer: A great computer and all that, but computing was not a mainstream phenomenon until the 1990s. I mean, really it’s hard to think that’s only 17 years ago.
Forbes: In early 2000, Microsoft’s market value went over $500 billion. Do you think this has distorted people’s expectations for Microsoft? I’m thinking of the recent Vanity Fair article that said Microsoft’s last ten years have been a “lost decade.”
Ballmer: It’s not been a lost decade for me! I mean, look, ultimately progress is measured sort of through the eyes of our users. More than our investors or our P&L or anything else, it’s through the eyes of our users. We have 1.3 billion people using PCs today. There was a time in the ’90s when we were sure there would never be 100 million PCs sold a year. Now there will be 375 million sold this year alone. So, is it a lost decade?
MacDailyNews Take: Of course it was, you moron.
Ballmer: The truth of the matter is it’s hard to invent anything. It’s hard to invent a new thing, and it’s just as hard to invent another new thing. I think we’ve been pretty successful, but it’s hard. It is hard. I think we’ve done a pretty good job of it.
MacDailyNews Take: Wait, what? When he refers to being “pretty successful” and doing “a pretty good job of it,” is he talking about ripping off Apple’s innovations or is he actually delusional enough to be talking about Microsoft “inventing” things?
Ballmer: Will Microsoft be disrupted? I don’t know. So far we’ve done a pretty good job of avoiding it. It doesn’t mean we’ve done a perfect job, doesn’t mean there aren’t things of which I’d say, gosh, I wish we had invented that or we were first to this or that or the other thing. But nonetheless we’ve done a pretty amazing job.
MacDailyNews Take: Ohhh… (rocking back and forth) Oh, man, we’re going to piss our pants!
Ballmer: The one thing that I think separates Microsoft from a lot of other people is we make bold bets. We’re persistent about them, but we make them. A lot of people won’t make a bold bet. A bold bet doesn’t assure you of winning, but if you make no bold bets you can’t continue to succeed. Our industry doesn’t allow you to rest on your laurels forever. I mean, you can milk any great idea. Any idea that turns out to be truly great can be harvested for tens of years. On the other hand, if you want to continue to be great, you’ve got to bet on new things, big, bold bets. It’s in our value statement; you go to our website.
MacDailyNews Take: “It’s in our value statement; you go to our website.” Oh, you just gotta love it!
Forbes: Do you miss Steve Jobs?
Ballmer: I never worked very closely with Steve Jobs.
Forbes: I mean do you miss him as a force in the industry?
Ballmer: I don’t …
Forbes: Not a trick question, but I’ll restate it. From the very beginning, Apple and Microsoft have had rivalry. This rivalry has forced Apple and Microsoft to constantly raise each other’s game. So when I look at all of Microsoft’s cool announcements today in Toronto – Windows 8 for PCs, tablets and phones, a new Office that is cloud-based — I see a Microsoft that was forced to improve because of Apple’s tremendous success during the last ten years – and especially last five years – of Steve Jobs’ life.
Ballmer: The life of Steve Jobs is felt in terms of the good work Apple is still doing. It’s felt in terms of the challenge that it presents to us. How long does that last? I don’t know. Obviously Steve did amazing work, Apple did amazing work, and Microsoft is doing amazing work.
MacDailyNews Take: That’s right, Steve, Apple’s in the past tense. You’re the ones who are doing the amazing work. Just keep telling yourself that and everything’s going to be juuust fine. 😉
Much more in the full article here.
MacDailyNews Take: The farce is strong with this one.
As always, may Microsoft’s shareholders remain comatose and may Steve Ballmer remain CEO for as long as it takes!
[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “David E.” for the heads up and “Just plain cake” for the “farce” line.]
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