Steve Ballmer, Unplugged

March 7, 2008

Silicon Valley venture captialist Guy Kawasaki interviews Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer at Mix08 conference in Las VegasSilicon Valley venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki interviewed Microsoft Corp Chief Executive Steve Ballmer Thursday at Mix08, the software company’s annual conference for Web developers in Las Vegas.

Kawasaki was a competitor of Microsoft in the early days of the PC, when he served as marketing evangelist for Apple Computer Inc’s first Macintosh computers.

He opened the conversation by asking Ballmer: “Who would have thought I would ever be at a Microsoft event?”

Ballmer retorted: “Not me.”

That kicked off a rollicking discussion between the two former adversaries.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer grabs for interviewer Guy Kawasaki’s Apple MacBook Air computer at a Las Vegas conference, telling him he needs a fuller-featured machine.

Ballmer mocks the Apple MacBook Air:
Amid questions about how Vista, the latest version of Microsoft’s flagship Windows operating system was faring, Ballmer started making fun of Kawasaki’s lastest-model Apple Inc computer, the MacBook Air.
The MacBook Air is touted as the world’s thinnest computer, at no more than three-quarters of an inch thick. But despite a sleek design, generous display and Wi-Fi connections, critics have leapt on its priceyness and lack of removable battery, DVD drive and Ethernet jack for wired broadband connections.
As the discussion grew more animated, Ballmer jokingly leaped up from his seat and grabbed for Kawasaki’s laptop.
Ballmer: “This is heavier than my PC — heavier than the Toshiba…This thing is missing half the features of a PC. Where is your DVD drive?”

About whether he uses a Microsoft private jet when he travels:
Ballmer: “Microsoft doesn’t buy people airplanes. That’s the other company.”
Kawasaki: “The chihuahua?” (Kawasaki asked earlier if Apple was like a chihuahua that Microsoft has to kick off its leg every once in a while).
Ballmer: “Yeah, the chihuahua. It’s the chihuahua’s approach.” (Laughing)

Ballmer reads his own e-mail:
Ballmer said he gets 60 to 70 e-mails a day and he has no assistant filter messages received them at steveb@microsoft.com
“I have actually found that human beings are not abusive. Distribution lists are abusive, spam is abusive, but humans are usually constructive with the e-mails that they send.”

Regarding Microsoft’s Facebook stake and whether he negotiated it with CEO Mark Zuckerberg:
“Neither one of us was involved in the specifics. Mark tends to focus in on the big picture, getting the technology right, product essence. He does a fantastic job. I’m well known not to be the world’s best negoitiator.”

(Photos: Reuters/Daisuke Wakabayashi)

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