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July 23, 2008 5:46 PM

Ballmer internal e-mail lists priorities for year, including competition with Apple, Google

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer sent an e-mail to Microsoft's employees at 4:30 this afternoon explaining the reorganization of the Platforms and Services Division, and the departure of Kevin Johnson, a 16-year Microsoft employee who was president of that division.

Ballmer also laid out his priorities for the company in the 2009 fiscal year, which began July 1. The e-mail is after the jump.

His priorities remain largely unchanged since last year, Ballmer wrote.

An excerpt from the e-mail:

"FY08 was a milestone year. Our revenue jumped $9.3 billion to more than $60 billion. Operating profit grew 21 percent to $22.5 billion.

These outstanding numbers are the direct result of your commitment to the priorities I outlined last July. A lot has happened since then, but our fundamental strengths, challenges, and strategic goals remain largely the same. Therefore, my priorities are consistent with last year. In FY09 we must continue to:

1. Invest in the right opportunities;


2. Expand our presence with Windows, Office, and developers;

3. Drive end user excitement for our products;

4. Embrace software plus services; and

5. Focus on employee excellence.

By focusing on these five areas, we can continue to grow revenue, increase profit, and expand our market share. These priorities are also critical as we work to address key issues surrounding our business in the coming year:

Windows: The success of Windows is our number one job. With SP1 and the work we've done with PC manufacturers and our software ecosystem, we've addressed device and application compatibility issues in Windows Vista. Now it's time to tell our story. In the weeks ahead, we'll launch a campaign to address any lingering doubts our customers may have about Windows Vista. And later this year, you'll see a more comprehensive effort to redefine the meaning and value of Windows for our customers.

We also have to drive developers to create rich applications for Windows. With Internet Explorer and Silverlight, we have great tools for creating applications that run everywhere. But we also need to make sure developers have the .NET skills to write unique Windows applications using Windows Presentation Foundation. To keep today's Windows applications alive, vibrant, and exciting, we need both—applications that run everywhere and rich client applications.

Apple: In the competition between PCs and Macs, we outsell Apple 30-to-1. But there is no doubt that Apple is thriving. Why? Because they are good at providing an experience that is narrow but complete, while our commitment to choice often comes with some compromises to the end-to-end experience. Today, we're changing the way we work with hardware vendors to ensure that we can provide complete experiences with absolutely no compromises. We'll do the same with phones—providing choice as we work to create great end-to-end experiences.

Business and enterprise: Our enterprise and server business has never been stronger—today we are on the verge of becoming the number one enterprise software company. We need to continue to push on all fronts—mail with Exchange, business intelligence with PerformancePoint, virtualization with Hyper-V, and databases with SQL Server. We have to drive our enterprise search capabilities, our unified communications solutions, and our collaboration technologies. And we must continue to compete against Linux in key workloads such as Web servers and high performance computing.

Software plus services: Some people think software plus services is all about search. But it's really about changing the way software is written and deployed. The future is about having a platform in the cloud and delivering applications across PCs, phones, TVs, and other devices, at work and in the home. It's also about driving change in business models through advertising, subscriptions, and online transactions. Software plus services is a huge opportunity for us to deliver new value on the desktop and the server to all of our customers. This year at PDC, you'll hear more about our cloud platform initiatives and the next versions of our Live and Online technologies.

Google: We continue to compete with Google on two fronts—in the enterprise, where we lead; and in search, where we trail. In search, our technology has come a long way in a very short time and it's an area where we'll continue to invest to be a market leader. Why? Because search is the key to unlocking the enormous market opportunities in advertising, and it is an area that is ripe for innovation. In the coming years, we'll make progress against Google in search first by upping the ante in R&D through organic innovation and strategic acquisitions. Second, we will out-innovate Google in key areas—we're already seeing this in our maps and news search. Third, we are going to reinvent the search category through user experience and business model innovation. We'll introduce new approaches that move beyond a white page with 10 blue links to provide customers with a customized view of their world. This is a long-term battle for our company—and it's one we'll continue to fight with persistence and tenacity.

Yahoo: Related to Google and our search strategy are the discussions we had with Yahoo. I want to emphasize the point I've been making all along—Yahoo was a tactic, not a strategy. We want to accelerate our share of search queries and create a bigger pool of advertisers, and Yahoo would have helped us get there faster. But we will get there with or without Yahoo. We have the right people, we've made incredible progress in our technology, and we'll continue to make smart investments that will enable us to build an industry-leading business."

He closed by describing Johnson's departure and the reorganization, largely echoing the language in the company's press release.

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