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Microsoft CEO -- IE 8 delays, Vista "painful" to customers, MacBook Air not up to snuff

At Microsoft's MIX08 conference in Las Vegas, an annual Microsoft conference for web developers and designers, many people were waiting in anticipation for Steve Ballmer to let loose.  Ballmer's keynote was co-hosted by a surprising guest -- early Apple employee and venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki. 

Kawasaki, instrumental in developing the original Mac computer, played the role of interviewing Ballmer and prodding him with tough questions.  The audience also did its best to get Ballmer going and get him to open up.  Ballmer did not fail to entertain, as well as inform.

Among the first questions fielded by Kawasaki were about the possible Yahoo-Microsoft merger.  Ballmer emphasized that he sees the hostile takeover as critical to online advertising, a key field in Ballmer's mind.  He said, "We have worked really hard to make it clear that we have real commitment, real aspiration and real tenacity about being a very serious player in the world of search and advertising.  Advertising on the Internet is a big thing and will be the next super big thing.  We've got a long way to go! And Yahoo seems to be a way to accelerate that because of the critical mass that's required to really compete."

Ballmer said that search was the "killer app" of the advertising industry.   When Kawasaki questioned Ballmer about rival Google, Ballmer at first refused to say the rival's name, almost repeating a previous answer.  After some ribbing from Kawasaki, Ballmer relented. "I can say 'Google'" he repeated.

On Apple Ballmer was less than praise-filled.  At one point, when asked questions about Windows Vista, Ballmer distracted Kawasaki by grabbing his MacBook Air.  He then held up the computer and pronounced, "You got Vista on that thing?  This is heavier than my PC. It's true! That thing is heavier than the Toshiba that I carry.  Where's your DVD drive?  We'll get rid of this. We'll get you a real machine, and then you can e-mail me your feedback."

Kawasaki inquired about Ballmer's dislike for Apple, stating, "When you wake up in the morning, what do you think about Apple? Is it this little Chihuahua that you kick away every time?"

A very energetic Ballmer proceeded to bark and howl like a dog, before responding in a concilliatory tone, "Apple does a pretty good job, I'm not going to take away from anything that Apple does. We also do a pretty good job, and we're going to drive hard.  Apple's taken away a little share."

On Windows Vista, Ballmer tried at first to avoid Kawasaki's question "What's the deal with Vista? Seriously", but eventually was compelled to respond.  Ballmer replied, first praising Vistas adoption, but then acknowledging, "we did make the choice to kind of hurt compatibility, and our customers have let us know that has been very painful."

Ballmer also talked a bit about Internet Explorer, which is one of the major attractions at the show.  Regarding the slow progress coming out with IE8, Ballmer stated, "Obviously, we can ship browsers separate from the operating system, but we were really thinking through that next-generation design."  Ballmer then acknowledged that the delay had been "painfully long for customers".

A tidbit about possible XBox 360 Blu-Ray was dropped when Ballmer answered an audience question on the topic.  He replied,  "We've already been working on, for example, in Windows, device driver support for Blu-ray drives and the like, and I think the world moves on. Toshiba has moved on. We've moved on, and we'll support Blu-ray in ways that make sense."

Despite the interesting somewhat more serious opinions of Ballmer, the highlight for many occurred during the Q&A session.  An audience member asked Ballmer to do a "web developers" dance to which Ballmer, obliged, as seen here.  After screaming like a madman, Ballmer returned to his seat, pumped up, quipping to the audience member, "If you just gave the guy behind you a dollar, I want fifty cents."

One issue decidely absent in Ballmer's interview -- any sort of progress update on Windows Home Server, which after heavy marketing remains dead in the water, crippled by growing data loss problems.

A full video of the keynote is found here.

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RE: What I don't get is...
By TomZ on 3/7/2008 3:43:54 PM , Rating: 0
The fact that it is apparently not fixed is probably also an indication of how often it actually occurs in the field. This is the kind of issue that seems significant on the surface due to the nature of the problem, but the knowledge we lack is how often it actually comes up. If it is a one-in-a-million type of thing, it may not even be worth putting out a special fix just for it.

And I don't see Microsoft as an irresponsible company that would totally ignore a pressing problem if it were causing their customers grief.

RE: What I don't get is...
By RogueSpear on 3/7/2008 4:19:16 PM , Rating: 3
If it is a one-in-a-million type of thing, it may not even be worth putting out a special fix just for it.

Perhaps if you lose your data you'll feel differently. The point that some Microsoft apologists seem to miss is that this thing is meant to be a file server, so file corruption would IMHO be priority one on the list of "things to do".

And I don't see Microsoft as an irresponsible company that would totally ignore a pressing problem if it were causing their customers grief.

You should read up at some web sites that are information security oriented. Microsoft has a storied history of knowingly sitting on security vulnerabilities for months at a time. In fact that's what eventually led to the feature freeze or security lockdown (whatever they called it) a couple years back.

RE: What I don't get is...
By TomZ on 3/7/2008 4:30:52 PM , Rating: 1
First of all, I am not apologizing for Microsoft. Nor did I say that it is okay for it to not get fixed. I just said that if it is a very rare occurance, then I could understand why Microsoft might not issue a patch just for that issue. Please read my post again.

Furthermore, only a fool trusts his or her data to a particular machine. "A fool and his data are soon separated" or something like that. My point is that even with WHS, a person should have backups. No degree of RAID in a single machine can protect you from data loss if the whole machine goes belly-up, or in this case, if it happens to suffer from some obscure bug.

RE: What I don't get is...
By cobalt42 on 3/7/2008 5:06:54 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think the data corruption bug is something that you know when it happens, or that it happens over time, is it? I thought it was corruption that occurs as files are being written, in which case if you back up your WHS filesystem, you're backing up corrupted data. It's mitigated slightly if you use WHS *as* your backup, since you'd still have at least one good copy on the original machine, but silent corruption is still pretty bad.

(Not that your point isn't valid in general, I just didn't think that was the situation with this specific bug.)

RE: What I don't get is...
By JustTom on 3/7/2008 8:28:07 PM , Rating: 3
You are making an assumption without enough relevant information. I could just as easily say that the reason it has not been fixed is because there is a fundamental flaw in the drive management system.

I do agree that MS is unlikely to be deliberately ignoring this problem; the real question is why has it not been addressed.

Finally, information from MS seems to imply this is more than just a minor problem. They have replicated it in a number of programs.

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