Becoming chief executive officer (CEO) of Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq:MSFT) today didn’t make Steve Ballmer any more of a diplomat. At a press conference held to announce his appointment to the post, Ballmer addressed rumors that the Department of Justice would press for a breakup of the software giant by describing any such move as “reckless beyond belief.”
“It would be reckless and irresponsible for anyone to try to break up this company,” said Ballmer, who had just been introduced by longtime Chairman CEO Bill Gates as his successor in the top executive spot.
“It would be unprecedented, and it would be the single greatest disservice that anybody could do to the consumers in this country,” Ballmer said during a press conference in Redmond, Washington.
Hail To The Chief
Gates, who will remain as chairman and adopt the title “chief software architect,” added: “If you look at any of the great milestones that Microsoft has helped create … for example, Windows 95: Windows 95 wouldn’t have been a success if we hadn’t taken the entire energy of the company, if we hadn’t built a version of (Microsoft) Office that depended on that 32-bit interface, if we hadn’t taken all our services and support and our world-wide organization and driven forward, providing opportunities for other companies around Windows 95.”
“Today as I look at the Office group, our speech recognition, MSN, Windows… every one of those elements is necessary for us to create this new vision,” Gates said.
Looking To The Future
Gates, recalling that Microsoft was founded 25 years ago, said that new vision is based on positioning the company for a future in which software will be delivered over a host of new devices in addition to personal computers.
“Today we’re taking the next step,” Gates said, explaining that he’ll be much closer to product development in his role as chief software architect. “What I enjoy the most, and what I’m getting back to, is working with the product development group,” said.
When asked if he’d be getting so close that he’d actually be writing software himself, Gates replied: “I might be threatening to write code, but I haven’t been able to threaten that for a couple of years.” Ballmer said his predecessor’s enthusiasm for noodling over product development issues was an example of the kind of thinking that he said makes Microsoft “the best idea machine in the world.” Ballmer, 42, had been Microsoft’s president since 1998.