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article imageMicrosoft CEO focuses on corporate clients Special

By Jack Kapica     Oct 21, 2009 in Technology
Hailing the arrival of a new economic era, Steve Ballmer says we are in the "new normal" of a period of efficiency and productivity,
In a rambling but brief keynote speech at Toronto’s Westin Harbour Castle hotel today, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer offered only one surprise as he hailed the arrival of a new economic climate in which his company’s new computer operating system, Windows 7, and its new server, Windows Server 2008 R2, will fit right in.
Speaking at an event called Microsoft’s The New Efficiency to an invitation-only audience, Ballmer spent his time addressing corporate customers and failed to mention the consumer market until he was prompted by a question from the audience.
The surprise was not a new announcement, but only a hint: It’s possible that Microsoft might jettison its long-awaited and planned cellphone, code-named Pink, due out next year. While answering a question about the Windows mobile operating system, he said that he liked the idea of Microsoft making software and working with hardware partners. He was not more specific.
Although he said he was “chomping at the bit” about Windows 7, he spent most of his off-the-cuff speech talking about “efficiency” and “productivity” in the corporate world.
He described the new economic climate as “the new normal,” a mindset that “puts pressure on the level of efficiency” at work.
He even broke out that decades-old slogan for corporate managers that everyone will have to learn to “do more with less.”
Touching briefly on a Canadian hot-button issue, he delivered a warning to the federal government’s aversion to investing in research. “Information technology,” he said, “will drive the next wave of innovation.”
Speaking about the specific product, Ballmer stressed that Windows 7 will result in considerable savings for IT departments in four main areas: calls to the service desk, desktop management, deployment and power savings. Among the four, he said, annual IT savings should run between $111 and $191. He did not say whether these figures were in Canadian or U.S. dollars.
As far as future planning is concerned, Ballmer said that the phenomenal acceptance of the new, tiny netbook computers will ensure a new life for Windows XP, the eight-year-old operating system that is still very popular among many users, because XP runs so well on the netbooks, with their Intel Atom microprocessors. He said it also means that Microsoft does not plan on abandoning the 32-bit operating system despite the increasing popularity of the 64-bit systems.
Instead, Ballmer added that the company’s thrust now is to “move our customers into the cloud,” a reference to the emerging technology in which people pay for software that is used online, such as the Microsoft Exchange Online server for e-mail.
He did, however, suggest Microsoft will urge customers a little forcefully when he noted that in the next breath that “not all customers want to go to the cloud.”
But moving them will not mean Microsoft will abandon desktop person al computers. “There’s no question that we will continue to have separate applications for separate operating systems,” he said.
Before speeches by Ballmer and Microsoft Canada CEO Eric Gales, a series of intriguing slides were shown on two giant screens. Some were interesting — such as the claim that the packaging for the retail version of Windows 7 “weighs 56 per cent less” than the packaging for Vista, which was a large and heavy plastic box with a flip-out centre. But other slides demanded context or discussion that were not in evidence.
The latter group included the statement that the average employee spends $14,209 of a company’s annual budget searching for information online, but does not say whether this is an improvement or a reason for employers to curtail employees’ use of search engines. Another noted that 70 per cent of users have eight to 15 windows open on their desktops at any one time, but Ballmer did not address why this obviously cumbersome way of working exists.
Another was even more puzzling. While the keynote speech was on the theme of efficiency, one slide said that “a typical data centre running 100 servers” uses as much electricity as 1,000 homes. Mr. Ballmer said nothing about how Microsoft was addressing such a heavy drain on power.
More about Microsoft, Steve Ballmer, Windows, Toronto
 
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