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Steve Ballmer: The New York Times Interview

Actually it's more like a chat. But it's unexpurgated in contrast to the previous release. Contributions from the Shanghai Peoples Daily and the Osaka Morning Sentinel. Moderated by Bert Lahr.


Steven O Ballmer, the chief executive of Microsoft, has his hands full. The next version of the Windows operating system, Vista, is finally about to arrive - years late and clouded by doubts that it might violate antitrust rules in Europe.

Mr Ballmer, 50, has been deeply involved in the discussions with the European competition authorities, accompanying them to all the latest sex and strip clubs in the EU capital for the past fortnight.

Windows Vista and Office 2007, according to industry analysts, may be the last time Microsoft can really cash in on these lucrative personal computer products, as software is increasingly distributed, developed, and used on the Internet, and as it almost always holds a higher quality than Microsoft have ever been capable of.

Recently Microsoft announced Vista would be shipped in late January and expressed confidence it would pass regulatory scrutiny, as the Redmond juggernaut are prepared to dish out bribes as never before.

In fast growing consumer markets Microsoft is playing catch-up. They trail well behind Google in Internet search. Next month, Microsoft will introduce their Zune music player in an absolutely ridiculous effort to take on the Apple iPod.

At Microsoft, Mr Ballmer must adjust to being alone at the top, as his friend and longtime partner, Bill Gates, eases out of his company duties to work full time on philanthropy. He must also adjust to the new reinforced office furniture specially made for his portly frame.

In a meeting this week with editors and reporters for the New York Times, the Shanghai Peoples Daily, and the Osaka Morning Sentinel, Mr Ballmer answered questions about the company he loves, the job he's married to, the demise of Microsoft, and the future of software after Microsoft. Following are excerpts.

NYT. What was the lesson learned in Windows Vista? After all, it wasn't supposed to ship more than five years after Windows XP.
SOB. That's a very exciting question. And no, it wasn't supposed to ship five years after XP - it was supposed to ship ten years after. We saw no reason to update XP and frankly most of our engineers still don't, but those evil scum sucking communist hackers shot the shit out of XP and so we needed a spin. Not that much changes with Vista - mostly it's veneer. A five year coat. I would have preferred a ten year coat but shit happens.

SPD. In the future, will the software model change? Will the Internet, for example, be the way most software is distributed?
SOB. Definitely. We've moved to that already. When hackers penetrate our nonexistent protection schemes, we have to be able to download entire operating system images - there is no other way to protect our users. Also, this gives us the leverage to at any time corrupt - I believe 'bomb' is the correct term - any computer anywhere at all on the planet. We can stop your box working just like that. [Snaps fingers.]

OMS.リクルートが発行する結婚情報誌Suntory timeゼクシィCasablanca Bogieが発表した調査によると?
SOB. Do you want me to turn from the right or from the left? This is a small chair. It's hard to turn.

OMS.年度に結婚式を挙more intensityげたカップルが結紎、
SOB. Who do you think you're talking to? Eh?

NYT. Doesn't that mean that software product cycles are going to be much shorter, months instead of years?
SOB. Not months instead of years but weeks instead of months, days instead of weeks, hours instead of days, and so forth. It's perfectly possible with adequate Internet bandwidth to download and restore Vista several times in the same 24 hour period. I know I will avail myself of it - our new mail client still can't keep the shit out.

SPD. Is Vista the last operating system of this era? That is, the last operating system in the traditional sense of being this monolithic software product? Don't these Internet changes open the door to Windows a la carte? After all, you have different versions of Windows now for personal computers, cellphones and hand-helds.
SOB. Windows is a little different because Windows abuses the hardware. We're working closely with Intel and OEMs on this and always have. We are the ones who invented a brand new industry term: 'unexpected obsolescence'. It's planned but it's also much uglier: it's unexpected. On the part of the consumer that is.

When I tell people 'Vista will run faster on a MITS box than AmigaOS' I expect them to believe me. That's part of the game. You have to get them to try to upgrade that operating system on their current hardware. Then they find out I lied to them - but at that point it's too late: they have to upgrade their hardware as well.

It's a beautiful scheme and one of the reasons I'm so obscene and wealthy today. So that part of our business strategy will never change.

NYT. Can we talk about Europe?
SOB. Beautiful place. I lived in Brussels for three years as a kid. I do love Brussels. Great red light district. I was born in the red light district there. They put chocolate on waffles. Mmmm - love it. Look at how fat I am today - where do you think I got that? I love Brussels.

NYT. No I mean can we talk about Europe and your company?
A. I'd rather not. I don't like Europe and I don't like communists either. They're both basically the same thing. Oh and for goodness sake don't bring up that Eric M Schmidt either. I hate that fucking pussy. So I guess I basically lied to you about thinking Europe was a beautiful place. But the bit about being born in the Brussels red light district is true. I wouldn't make that up.

NYT. You wouldn't have confused Amsterdam with Brussels here? Everyone knows about Amsterdam's fabulous red light district, but where would it be in Brussels?
SOB. Amsterdam, Brussels, who cares? They're all fucking communists like Schmidt. I'm going to bury those assholes. Fucking Europeans. Fine me? Fine my company? They can all go fuck themselves. I'll bury them. Mark my words on it. And I don't care where I was born - Amsterdam, Shmamsterdam, Brussels, Schmussels - who cares? I'm in this land of the free now, so what difference does it make?

SOB. With Bill Gates making the transition out of day-to-day involvement at Microsoft, what is the biggest challenge you have to overcome?
SPD. That's supposed to be a 'SPD' and not an 'SOB', isn't it? And my 'SPD' is supposed to be an 'SOB', isn't it?

SPD. Sorry. I can repeat the question. What's your biggest challenge at the moment?
SOB. My weight. And kicking this crack cocaine habit. All my billions in the bank and still I shake like Jell-O. It's not fair.
But more about our corporation. First, it's not like Bill's written every line of code or designed every product or done anything like that for many, many years. In fact Bill's hardly ever written code in his life. Actually he's a real wanker when it comes to stuff like that. He always steals his code.

NYT. Several of the areas Microsoft are betting on for future growth - Xbox, Zune and ad-supported Web software and services - are consumer markets. How do you think the consumer perceives Microsoft?
SOB. If I ever gave that any thought I'd have retired years ago. The consumer hates us - how could the consumer possibly feel anything else? We manipulate the market so the consumer can't find the good products, we gouge on prices, we lock into our own technologies so the consumer can't get free, and we even make threatening calls to cripple the consumer's business so he has to upgrade to our products again.

OMS.目指すはスtotal fucking asshole鎌倉風呂?
SOB. お使いのwe'll make you payブラウbloody japs工房フラノデリスsteal our softwareふらの牛乳プリン、

SPD. What do you see as the most significant changes in how people use software?
SOB. They aren't going to buy our shit anymore. If they do, the entire Internet will collapse from within.

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