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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

July 27, 2006 at 2:15 PM

FAM: Lunch

Analysts say one of the best things about Microsoft’s Financial Analyst Meeting is the informal opportunities to talk with the big dogs. The Wall Street types say they value the insight they get directly from conversations with key decision makers in the hallways and around the tables at lunch.

In years past, the analysts jockeyed for positions next to Bill Gates. Gates isn’t here today. He’s on vacation, and he’s also in transition, moving over the next two years to full-time work at his philanthropy. In a very visual reminder that the technical leadership here is changing, a big crowd at today’s lunch gathered around Ray Ozzie, who holds the chief software architect title that once belonged to Gates.

The lunch buffet opened shortly after Ozzie gave the big-think technical overview, focusing on the Internet services transition. Gates has delivered those overviews at previous Financial Analyst Meetings.

There’s always a crowd around CEO Steve Ballmer, and he’s expert at making himself heard all the way to the outer ring of chairs pulled closer to his table. His baritone was audible above the din of a score or more of other conversations, and the sound of hundreds of forks. The analysts, a uniform group of mostly mid-30s to late-40s men with close-cropped hair, crisp shirts and smart phones, leaned in and kept their eyes locked on the CEO.

But no matter how well Ballmer projected his voice, the media can’t share what he said. All conversations with executives outside of their formal, on-stage presentations are off the record.

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