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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.

Category: Steve Ballmer
May 28, 2009 at 9:25 AM

Can Microsoft get a big bang out of Bing?

As expected, Microsoft took the wraps off its overhauled search engine this morning, introducing a new brand name, Bing. The Wall Street Journal reported online that Chief Executive Steve Ballmer was demonstrating Bing at the Journal’s D: All Things Digital conference in Carlsbad, Calif. Here’s Microsoft’s release on the introduction. The Journal’s report said the…

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Comments | More in Advertising, Branding, Digital media, Google, Microsoft, Search, Steve Ballmer, Windows Live

April 20, 2009 at 8:30 AM

Morning Microsoft news roundup: Windows for netbooks $15, Oracle buys Sun Microsystems, Steve Ballmer is on the road

WSJ by way of Electronista: It’s reporting that Microsoft is charging PC makers only $15 per copy of Windows for netbooks, low-cost laptops that cost around $300, about a third of the cost of a PC version of Windows. Ballmer Watch: Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s chief executive officer, is hitting the road. He is…

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Comments | More in Microsoft, Steve Ballmer, Windows

March 19, 2009 at 1:02 PM

Ballmer reiterates interest in Yahoo, says tide turned on Apple, would relish IBM-Sun deal

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was in New York for an on-stage interview with BusinessWeek editor-in-chief Stephen Alder as part of the McGraw-Hill Media Summit today. He made some interesting comments on Yahoo, Apple, a potential Sun-IBM tie up. But there was no fundamental change in his position. That didn’t stop the Web-cast interview from making headlines, which may have buoyed Yahoo’s shares (Microsoft was up a bit, too) against a day of measured decline wrapping up on Wall Street. At the close Microsoft: Up 18 cents, 1 percent, to $17.14. Yahoo: Up 32 cents, 2.4 percent, to $13.74. Nasdaq: Down 0.52 percent. Dow: Down 1.2 percent.

Here’s a summary of his comments:

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Comments | More in Apple, Steve Ballmer, Yahoo acquisition

March 12, 2009 at 9:47 AM

Billionaire Bill, down $18 billion, is back on top of Forbes list

Scroogeswim.jpg The Forbes list of the world’s richest people is practically a rite of spring around here. Are we home to the richest, second richest or, gasp, third richest person in the world? This year, as billionaires around the world saw their fortunes cut by the global economic downturn, Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates lost the least among the top three — $18 billion — and edged back to the top spot on the list with about $40 billion in his money bin. Gates’ friend and partner-in-philanthropy Warren Buffett is No. 2 on the list, with $37 very large. (He had moved to No. 1 in last year’s survey.) Mexican business magnate Carlos Slim Helu, who surpassed Gates as world’s richest in summer 2007 (by a different estimate), is third on the global list with $35 billion. Another software titan, Larry Ellison of Oracle, leaped from 14th in 2008 to 4th, at $22.5 billion.

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Comments | More in Bill Gates, Compensation, Financial, Miscellaneous, Personalities, Philanthropy, Steve Ballmer, Tech Economy

March 4, 2009 at 8:09 PM

Ballmer explains how investors are reacting to cost cuts; says WinMobile 6.5 ‘not the full release we wanted this year’; talks Windows 7 marketing

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer addressed a packed auditorium of public sector technology executives gathered at the company’s Redmond headquarters for its seventh U.S. Public Sector CIO Summit this week. He touched on some of the economic themes that have come up in several of his speeches recently, giving his take on funding for innovative ideas in a down economy and investors’ reactions to Microsoft’s cost-cutting measures. Ballmer also expressed some disappointment in the progress of Windows Mobile and gave his thoughts on marketing Windows 7. Read on for highlights.

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Comments | More in Mobile, Steve Ballmer, Tech Economy, Windows 7, Windows Mobile, Windows Vista

February 25, 2009 at 2:51 PM

What Ballmer said about Yahoo and what others are saying about search deals

After a fairly quiet few weeks following the one-year anniversary of Microsoft’s bid to buy the Internet giant, a couple of reports in the past day or so, plus an utterance from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, have stirred the Microsoft-Yahoo pot. Let’s start with facts and move on to speculation and unnamed sources.

Ballmer, during a strategic update meeting with Wall Street analysts, discussed the broader Internet search market, the tall order his company faces against Google and his continuing hope of joining forces in some manner with Yahoo:

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Comments | More in Search, Steve Ballmer, Yahoo

February 24, 2009 at 6:15 AM

Microsoft Strategic Update: Ballmer tells Wall Street more dramatic cost cutting would be ‘imprudent’

With Microsoft’s Redmond campus largely emptied out for the winter holidays, CEO Steve Ballmer crunched the numbers on the proper level of spending for his company against the current economic climate, which he has repeatedly referred to as a “reset” rather than just a recession. Ballmer said his own estimates for the weakness and duration of the downturn tend to be more severe than those of other business leaders he meets.

With that in mind, he settled on $27.5 billion of operating expenses — a level the company aims to hold relatively steady through the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, and during its 2010 fiscal year. Ballmer made clear to financial analysts meeting in New York this morning for the company’s annual strategic update that cutting back even more significantly — say to $20 billion — would be “imprudent.”

“I think this is right,” Ballmer said.

That should give some comfort to those wondering if the modest layoffs Microsoft announced last month were the beginning of a more significant reduction. Wall Street analysts and investors are pressuring companies in every industry to continue cutting costs as sales and profits slow dramatically.

The strategic update call just came to an end. Ballmer gave a detailed look at seven major business areas for the company. Check back here later this morning for more details.

Update, 7:50 a.m.: As he told Congressional Democrats earlier this month, Ballmer said Microsoft’s corporate strategists have been evaluating past downturns — particularly those driven by “deleveraging.” The team read company annual reports from 1927 to 1938 to determine who did a good job managing through the Great Depression. “RCA, God rest them in peace, became our role model,” Ballmer said. The company was able to dominate the television business because it continued to invest during bad times, he said.

Then he broke down how Microsoft plans to invest.

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Comments | More in Advertising, Apple, Enterprise, Financial, Games & entertainment, Google, Microsoft layoffs, Mobile, Office, Online services, Open source, Search, Server and tools, Steve Ballmer, Strategy, Tech Economy, Windows, Windows 7, Windows Azure, Windows Mobile, Xbox 360, Yahoo acquisition, Zune

February 6, 2009 at 3:00 PM

Ballmer tells congressional Dems how Gates worried about making payroll in the early days; gives view of economy, “culture of spending”; calls stimulus package “vital”

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer gave his take on the economy during the U.S. House of Representatives Democratic Caucus Retreat in Williamsburg, Va., today. He also shared this anecdote about Microsoft’s early days and Bill Gates worries about being able to make the payroll.

When Ballmer first started at Microsoft, he lived with Gates because “we didn’t have the budget to put people up in hotels,” according to a transcript of the speech posted on Microsoft’s “On The Issues” blog. (I’ve condensed a great deal of the speech, which I found particularly relevant and interesting, in this post.)

“And every time I sat down, in every corner, nook and cranny of couches, tables, I’d find these little yellow pieces of paper with Bill’s writing that had a bunch of people’s names and companies’ names and numbers,” Ballmer said.

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Comments | More in Public policy & issues, Steve Ballmer, Tech Economy

January 22, 2009 at 6:43 AM

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer explains job cuts to employees

In an e-mail sent to employees and released to reporters this morning, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer explained the company’s first company-wide layoffs. Of note, while Microsoft is eliminating 5,000 positions over the next 18 months — in addition to already ongoing cuts to contractor and vendor services, and other expenses — Ballmer said the company will also “open new positions to support key investment areas during this same period of time” meaning that the net decline of headcount will be between 2,000 and 3,000 jobs or roughly 3 percent of its global employee base.

More coverage of Microsoft’s cost-cutting

Microsoft laying off 1,400 today, up to 5,000 in next 18 months

Majority of cuts to be in Redmond; total reduction is roughly 3 percent

Contractor spending could be cut up to 15 percent

Attention turns to what groups will see cuts

Gregoire calls layoffs “disheartening”

Here’s Ballmer’s e-mail:

From: Steve Ballmer

Sent: Thursday, January 22, 2009 6:07 AM

To: Microsoft – All Employees (QBDG)

Subject: Realigning Resources and Reducing Costs

In response to the realities of a deteriorating economy, we’re taking important steps to realign Microsoft’s business. I want to tell you about what we’re doing and why.

Today we announced second quarter revenue of $16.6 billion. This number is an increase of just 2 percent compared with the second quarter of last year and it is approximately $900 million below our earlier expectations.

The fact that we are growing at all during the worst recession in two generations reflects our strong business fundamentals and is a testament to your hard work. Our products provide great value to our customers. Our financial position is solid. We have made long-term investments that continue to pay off.

But it is also clear that we are not immune to the effects of the economy. Consumers and businesses have reined in spending, which is affecting PC shipments and IT expenditures.

Our response to this environment must combine a commitment to long-term investments in innovation with prompt action to reduce our costs.

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Comments | More in Microsoft layoffs, Steve Ballmer

January 8, 2009 at 6:53 PM

Ballmer addresses Yahoo search deal questions in CES interviews

Nearly a full year has passed since Microsoft opened its campaign to acquire Yahoo, and later, just its Internet search business. In interviews published today, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer gave his latest thinking on the matter appears to has changed little in months: He’s interested in buying just Yahoo’s search business.

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Comments | More in Steve Ballmer, Yahoo acquisition

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