It's odd to hear the Microsoft juggernaut describe itself as the David to anyone's Goliath. Yet that is exactly what Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said to BBC News.
Ballmer was interviewed by BBC News and talked openly about Microsoft, the economy, and the firms search goals. Speaking on internet advertising Ballmer said, "Do I wish we'd started the investment in search a few years earlier? Yes. We may be the David up against Goliath but we're working on it."
According to Ballmer, the big concern for Microsoft is the lead that Google has built in the online advertising market. Microsoft still plans to challenge Google in the advertising and search arenas, even after the much ballyhooed and publicized failed talks of purchasing Yahoo.
Ballmer sounded more like the Microsoft most are used to when speaking about rival Smartphone operating systems. He stated, "You've got to remember Android is version one....and it looks like version one. They've got one handset maker, we've got 55. They're available through one operator, we've got 175."
Ballmer maintains that Microsoft will hold other mobile operating systems at bay and remarked that open-source is not the most attractive solution to phone manufacturers. The open source operating system Ballmer was referring to was Google's recently released Android OS.
Google has said that it went open source with its OS to allow phone makers and mobile carriers to change Android to their needs. Google is much more interested in opening new advertising mediums on Internet enabled mobile phones than charging phone makers for using Android.
When asked about the maligned Vista operating system Ballmer said, "With their Windows PCs people have what I would call a love/hate relationship. There are things they'd like us to do better but if you asked them if they loved what they're able to do with their PC, I think they'd say 'Yes'."
Ballmer says that Vista has been Microsoft's most popular operating system to date.
Speaking about the economy in the U.S., Ballmer stated, "I don't think there's any confusion in Washington that they need to make smart choices to help the US economy." Ballmer warned that the poor economy could impact technology spending.
Many of the largest computer makers including Dell have already announced that the slow economy led to the inability to meet Wall Street profit projections. HP still maintains that it will be able to hit projections for the quarter. Retail stalwart Best Buy was also unable to meet projections for the quarter. When the computer market that relies on Windows products for the vast majority of their computers sees slowing sales, it makes sense that Microsoft would see sales lag as well.
One could see slowing sales of Microsoft's Vista operating system on the back of slowing overall PC sales as a reason Microsoft recently relaxed the requirements for using Windows XP on netbook computers. The netbook segment is surging thanks to the lower average cost for a netbook compared to a traditional notebook. Many netbook computers run Windows XP and expanding the amount of systems that can use XP would be a benefit to Microsoft in a sluggish economy.