Ballmer On Google, Ads, And Technology

    December 12, 2005
    WebProNews Staff

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer had a lot of opinions for a Canadian publication on several topics, notably dismissing any inroads Google’s supposedly made on the world’s top technology company.

A reporter for the Ottawa Citizen fenced with Microsoft’s chief executive before Ballmer spoke at a couple of events in the Canadian capital.

Ballmer wasn’t having any of it, though, as he refrained from commenting on the rampant AOL-Microsoft rumors and held back what must be considerable frustration over Microsoft’s lackluster share price despite growth in operating profits and various dividends and stock buybacks the company has done over the past five years.

He doesn’t seem too impressed by Google, rebuffing the reporter’s contention that the search advertising company had made inroads on Microsoft: “In the areas where we’ve been strong–operating systems, productivity software, email, communications–we’ve had effectively no impact from Google. Google has done a nice job building a new business around searching and advertising. We can give them some credit for that. Do I think Google is invincible in its core business’ No, I do not.”

While Google and Yahoo get lots of attention over their online advertising revenues, Microsoft isn’t doing too shabby in the field itself. Ballmer said Microsoft does close to two billion dollars in online ads and expects that to grow.

Technology has a ways to go in terms of innovation. Ballmer observed that not one person interviewing him was taking notes with a computer. He did indicate where the importance of voice recognition technology truly rests: “People usually think this means voice, but voice isn’t nearly as important as natural language. That is, that the computer understand my intent, not just my voice.”

In August, Microsoft announced its Speech Server product, aimed at call centers. A future version of the Exchange platform will be speech-enabled as well. Whatever Microsoft has planned for natural language, it appears to be on the road to building products tailored to that end.

David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.