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Microsoft's Ballmer: "I See Nothing But Opportunity"

Remarks Made at Partner Conference in Minneapolis

And so the fundamental underpinnings of the hardware industry are ripe, and all it takes is the right software and the right services, and these next 10 years will be phenomenal. It is a phenomenal place to be, industry to be in, and we are phenomenally lucky and fortunate to be the leader of this industry. And we are investing in the technologies we think will enable us to continue to lead this industry five years, 10 years, 15 years from now. Sometimes we're way ahead of competition. Sometimes, unfortunately, we get a bit behind competition. But we are a company that will relentlessly pursue the opportunities to innovate, to change the rules, and to break through. And we've been successful on that each and every time. We were successful in the original operating system business. We started behind actually in desktop applications -- hard for a lot of people to remember that far back. We weren't in the server business at the earliest possible moment. Those rules were rewritten. We innovated in the database business and the browser business, the e-mail and collaboration businesses. And in every case innovation has driven marketplace success.

And we continue to innovate. We'll invest about (U.S.) $6 billion this year in R&D. That's an imponderably big number -- for me, let alone anybody who doesn't have to do the accounting on it, the way we do. It is a lot of engineers with a lot of innovation that can build on each other -- it's tied together. You look at all of the products and all of the offers that we talked about, and really one of the most critical facts is that one plus one has to equal three -- that you can use the same programming model and management model and user interface model in a business intelligence application, in a security solution, in a collaborative application or in a line-of-business process.

We look out the next year and, frankly, I think more than in any of the last few partner conferences, we really have the deck stacked to give you the new product flow and the innovations that could let you really push your customers to the next level and really allow your businesses to sign at the next level in terms of the important solutions that you can put in place for our mutual customers. This is small to think about. This year we'll bring the beta of the "Longhorn" product to market -- super important. "Office 12" -- you've had a chance to have just a little glimpse of what's in "Office 12," which I think will be the most exciting release of Office in years, particularly for the folks in this room, because Office will be able to be really a part of the fabric of every business process and interaction around the globe.

We just brought the live communication server in the Office Communicator to market, pushing us into the real-time communications business, opening up new opportunities for our infrastructure partners in communications and in collaboration. We have Exchange SP 3 coming to market this year with the new Windows mobile software. We are darn serious about driving Windows mobile devices to be the backbone of the way people from very small form factor devices get access to the information that is important to them. We've got the new version of SQL and Visual Studio and BizTalk coming to market this year. We have a new version of Axapta, of CRM. We're launching our first small business accounting product this year in an important way coming to market. We've got Xbox 360 for some of you who want a little down time every now and then  -- coming to market this year. We've got new technologies for interactive television, which will be an important opportunity for some of you. And the list goes on and on and on and on and on.

We believe we're committed not only to just getting you these important, exciting innovative products, but then in really working with you to make sure that our customers get value from them. We get enabling technologies. We talk about our mission as enabling people in businesses throughout the world to realize their full potential. But we get the enabling technologies, and it takes you and you and you, and all the folks in this room and many, many others, over 600,000 partners around the world, to galvanize those technologies and really let our mutual new customers realize the full value from them. We're going to innovate. We're going to innovate in the product, we're going to innovate in the way we partner and work together. You've seen that in the evolution of the partner program over the last several years, because we know that we need that combined innovation so that together we can get the kinds of outcome that our customers, that you want and that we want.

At the end of the day, how do we measure how we do together? How do we measure? Simple. Revenue, revenue growth, profitability and market share. It's a good old-fashioned measure, nothing all that complicated. We have a good year, our revenue grows, you have a good year, your revenue grows, you make money, we gain shares. That's a very good year, in my estimation. I think we're set up for many more good years -- not just the next 12 months or 24 months. But we really are set up to go to the future. We have a solid base in our partner program. I think we've got partners more excited about it than any time I can remember in the last 13 years since we started our formal partner program. I think we've got the right innovations for the next 12 months and the right things in the labs for last three years behind. But there's two more things we're going to have to do if we're going to seize the kind of ambitious growth and market penetration objectives that we both have.

Number one, we're going to have to continue to face change, and face it together. If we talk about the world being substantially different in 10 years, and we agree on that, we also have to agree that things will evolve. The role of the Internet, the hosted services, will evolve. Our product line and the spaces in which we offer solutions like security and BI is going to continue to evolve. We need to evolve together. We are 100 percent absolutely, totally positively committed to our partnerships. But neither you nor we should be 100 percent committed to doing things exactly the way we do them today for the next 10 years. If you run your business exactly the way you do today 10 years from now, you'll probably have a problem. If we don't embrace the important things that are going to happen and be enabled by technology and drive our business, we will have a problem.

So what we need to commit to do is to continue to evolve, but evolve together, always having the dialogue, always making sure that we respect each other's mutual skills and talents, and the mutual opportunities that are in front of us.

The last thing I want to highlight that I think we all need to do to succeed and to grow -- and, frankly, a key thing if I'm sitting in your chair that I'm evaluating -- is we need to execute. Execute, execute, execute, execute. It's not all about programs and ideas and new products. It's about everyday telling the story, helping customers understand where they can get business value. We've got to put the air cover out there. You've got to bring things alive for people so that they can really get the value out of them. Every day we have got to be executing very well together, delivering the key technologies, driving the overall demand, working together, and putting in place the solutions that really, really and truly bring value to our mutual customers, to where we can stand tall together and say our customers, ourselves, and Microsoft -- we have all fully and truly realized our full potential. And that's what brings us together. That's what we're going to talk about here over the next, or I don't know, 45 minutes or so. We've got a panel of partners coming on stage. But if we do the kinds of things that I think we need to do, and that I know you think we need to do, there is nothing, nothing, nothing in front of all of us except the greatest of upsides.



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.NETDJ News Desk monitors Microsoft .NET and its related technologies, including Silverlight, to present IT professionals with news, updates on technology advances, business trends, new products and standards, and insight.

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.NETDJ News Desk 07/10/05 08:37:50 PM EDT

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer delivered a keynote speech and hosted a partner session at the Microsoft Wordlwide Partner Conference in Seattle, during which he looked back over the past decade, noted how far the industry has come, and discussed the past, present, and future with a number of Microsoft partners.

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