Ballmer Sizes Up The Field


Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer still has his eye on Linux, for example. While Google's Web search and push onto the desktop represents a current and future threat, Linux remains a key contender in departmental and other servers. This is turf Microsoft holds dear.

While Ballmer reportedly threw a chair when he learned that a key Microsoft employee was departing for Google--a characterization Ballmer denies--the company and its execs have been quieter on the Linux front of late.

Gartner Fellow Tom Bittman noted that Linux appears to be winning more converts from Unix than Microsoft's Windows and asked what the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant has to do to win more of those accounts.

Speaking at Gartner ITXpo in Orlando, Fla., Ballmer said Windows will gain momentum as it releases its Compute Cluster edition of Windows Server and new tools to ease the creation of scientific applications that take advantage of such clustering.

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Another big opportunity is in Web hosting, where Ballmer said the upcoming Visual Studio 2005, slated to launch Nov. 7, and the new ASP.Net will be a good choice for people who want to do "lightweight" hosting. He also sees good opportunity for Windows in server appliances.

Ballmer conceded there are more Unix users going to Linux than to Windows. "We're winning maybe 25 percent of the deals we engage in moving off of Sun [Solaris] and AIX. I'd like to win 50 [percent] or 55 percent or whatever the appropriate percentage is," Ballmer said during his on-stage panel session Wednesday. "The day I can come to Gartner and say we have a better Unix than Linux, that will be a good day."