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Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Steve Ballmer Talks Innovation In Chicago has an excellent write-up on Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's talk at the Executives' Club of Chicago. It's so interesting, you should really just read it yourself, but here are some excerpts:
“Software is one of the more unusual industries out there. It doesn’t get consumed,” Ballmer said. He added as the crowd chortled: “I would say it doesn’t break – and you would contradict that – so I’ll say it doesn’t wear out.” He concluded this point with gravity: “All we have to renew and reinvigorate ourselves and drive more revenue is innovation. Innovate or be irrelevant.”

Smart noggins innovate by using mistakes as fuel, Ballmer indicated. Sure, it’s not a feel-good thing that Apple is dominating with its iPod, he said, adding that Microsoft “missed that one” and all the company can do is push on even harder and use that product as a learning experience.

As for the tables that were selected to receive question cards, the first that was chosen centered on the thorny issue between complexity and simplicity when developing effective software. Ballmer said: “Don’t ask if you should do ‘A’ or ‘B’. Ask how you can do ‘A’ and ‘B’ simply.”

While not commenting on Google’s first-mover feat to offer an index-based desktop search tool before Microsoft, Ballmer did then comment on search engines: “They are gratifying because they allow you to speak in your natural language.”

Ballmer warned not to dumb down software too much for the purposes of simplicity but certainly allow a user to interact as naturally as possible in a robust software environment.


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