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Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer took issue with many of Apple CEO Steve Jobs' comments from the night before.  (Source: Engadget/All Things Digital)

Ballmer was a bit more sedate than usual -- but he did manage to compare Macs to trucks and insult Google's Chrome OS efforts.  (Source: All Things Digital)

Ray Ozzie, Microsoft Chief Software Architect didn't agree with Ballmer about Chrome OS. Ozzie is widely expected to replace Ballmer when her retires in 8 or 9 years.  (Source: All Things Digital)
Microsoft CEO also says he wishes Apple and Google good luck in dealing with antitrust investigations

Apple CEO Steve Jobs kicked off All Things Digital's eighth annual conference, delivering colorful comments on the Foxconn suicides, Flash blocking, the ongoing criminal investigation into Gizmodo's iPhone prototype purchase, and even his sex life.  That left Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer in unfamiliar territory yesterday when he delivered his own keynote -- he found himself perhaps not the most colorful speaker of the conference for once.

Fortunately Ballmer was joined by Microsoft's Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie and the result was a talk that mostly stuck to the company's technical vision, but didn't avoid taking some colorful jabs at competitors.  Ballmer and Ozzie's resulting talk may not be Steve Jobs wild and weird.  But it is certainly interesting.

Ballmer starts the talk discussing how problematic Chinese piracy is.  He blames this problem partly on a poor economy.  When asked about Microsoft competitors, Ballmer plugs the open source community, commenting, "The main ones are folks that people would guess: Google, Apple, Oracle (ORCL), VMware (VMW). And of course, we still always have the things that come out of Open Source–Linux, etc."

After a long discussion on cloud computing (which Ray Ozzie is extremely enthusiastic about), talk then turns to Steve Jobs' suggestion that tablets were becoming like cars -- good for the average user -- while PCs increasingly were being used like trucks -- only occasionally to be called upon when extra utility was needed.  Ballmer doesn't exactly agree with this assessment.  

First he says the iPad is a PC.  He states, "Of course it is [a PC]. What do you do on it? Answer email. A guy tried to take notes on it at a meeting I was at yesterday–that was interesting."

And he says if anybody is a "truck" it's Macs not PCs.  He states, "Well, there may be a reason why they call them 'Mac' trucks!  Windows machines will not be trucks."

Continuing onwards, Ballmer admits that the Windows Phone 7 project's development has been a rocky road.  He states, "We had a good longtime employee who wanted to retire and he’s going to do so. And it doesn’t make sense to replace him. On the phone side of the business, we learned the value of excellent execution. We were ahead of this game and now we find ourselves No. 5 in the market. We missed a whole cycle. I’ve been quite public about the fact that I’ve made some changes in leadership around our Windows Phone software. We had to do a little clean-up."

Ballmer says he's very impressed with Android, which recently leapt ahead of the iPhone in sales; but he says he's not impressed with Google's upcoming Linux distribution, Chrome OS.  He states, "On the phone, Android’s a real competitor. On the larger screen devices, who knows? I don’t know that these Android-based things will matter. But I don’t know that they won’t either. I don’t really understand why Google has to have two different operating systems. Chrome? It’s like two, two, two operating systems–but they’re not in one! You want to know about Chrome, talk to them."

Ray Ozzie, who's widely regarded as a future candidate for CEO when Ballmer retires, showed he isn't afraid to speak up to Ballmer (don't worry, no chairs were thrown).  He comments, "On the Android-versus-Chrome issue, Android is a bet on the past; Chrome is a bet on the future. When you install an app, you’re targeting a device. When you use Chrome, you’re looking at a cloud-based future."

A particularly humorous question came during the question and answer segment at the end of the talk.  Ballmer was asked what advice he would give Google and Apple, which are currently the subject of separate U.S. government antitrust probes.  He chuckled and stated, "No advice. I just wish them the best in getting lots of good experience."

Videos of the talk are available here.





“Then they pop up and say ‘Hello, surprise! Give us your money or we will shut you down!' Screw them. Seriously, screw them. You can quote me on that.” -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng referencing patent trolls













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