Robbie Bach, President of Microsoft’s Entertainment and Devices Division, sat down to talk to Reuters at CES in Las Vegas, ahead of the big keynote address by CEO Steve Ballmer. Topics discussed ranged from the Windows 7 beta and eventual launch, Microsoft’s mobile search deal with Verizon, and how the tough economic environment is affecting the company.
What is the status of Windows 7? Is it still on track for its launch debut?
It’s absolutely on track for the debut that we won’t tell you the date of. Three years from the last one. (Vista shipped in the fall of 2006 to businesses, and early 2007 to consumers). The date has some range in it for that reason. It’s a very good product.
What have you learned from the ups and downs of the Vista launch?
We learned that people’s early experience with the product when it ships is important. Initially when it shipped, we didn’t have as much compatibility as we would like. And that frustrated some people early on. That’s all gone now. But certainly with Windows 7 we want to get that right from the start.
How has the economy’s problems affected Microsoft plans?
The economy is going through a reset. There is no question about that. In the short term that means that every business is having some impact. Our general approach is to say that this is a reset, we are going to manage through that and come out the other end of that reset a much stronger company with a great product lineup. And you are going to see us continue to invest in technologies. But (we have) tremendous optimism about where the market is going and what the opportunities are over the next 5 years.
There are rumors out there about job cuts at Microsoft. What can you say about that?
We are not gong to comment about rumors. We will see how that plays out. You will see how that plays out in the market.