I’m going to be "live blogging" the Steve Ballmer keynote this afternoon at this URL. Keep this blog post bookmarked and start hitting "refresh" shortly after the keynote starts at 1pm Pacific / 9pm GMT. Or simply tune in to the webcast (750kbps, 300kbps, 100kbps) and watch it live yourself!
1:04pm – Ray Winninger (my boss!) is on stage to announce MIX09, taking place here at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas between March 18th-20th, 2009. No – registration hasn’t opened yet!
1:07pm – Guy Kawasaki and Steve Ballmer are now sitting in comfy chairs, ready for Q&A.
1:08pm – Guy: why do you want to buy Yahoo? Steve: we’ve shown tenacity around advertising. Search is the killer feature for online advertising. You could say that we’re not where we’d like to be, but we’re very committed. Yahoo seems to be a way to accelerate that because of the required critical mass. "What’s the current state of the offer?" Steve: We’ve made an offer – that’s all I can say!
1:13pm – Guy: so you’re telling me you’re an underdog? Steve: Yes, you could say that, for this space.
1:14pm – Guy: I know this won’t leave the room, but I use a Motorola Q phone running Windows Mobile, not an iPhone, because I need Exchange.
1:16pm – Guy: tell us about the deal with Facebook. Steve: again, it’s about advertising.
1:17pm – Guy: what drives you? Steve: Three things: firstly, I love what I do – bringing out great products like Silverlight 2 and IE 8. Secondly, I get to work with some of the smartest people in the world. Lastly, I enjoy a challenge.
1:19pm – Guy: can you describe a typical day in the life of SteveB? Steve: there are three kinds of days. Sometimes I’m outside of Redmond meeting with customers, flying around the world. Sometimes I’m in the office with back-to-back strategy meetings. Sometimes I have a day where I can think, write and research where there’s only perhaps one meeting and I can really focus on strategy. Guy: how much email do you have? Steve: I get perhaps sixty emails a day. Guy: really? I don’t believe it. Steve: why do people get a lot of mail? Human beings aren’t abusive in general, they send thoughtful, constructive mails. I might get more than sixty tomorrow, of course!
1:23pm – Guy: can you talk about Bill’s departure? Steve: he’s very fortunate. He’s had something to build professionally in Microsoft, and now he’s got a second opportunity with the foundation. You know, the company isn’t reliant on Bill for new ideas – we’ve got so many amazing people.
1:25pm – Guy: what’s the marketing pitch to recruit young people, particularly now "the stock profit has been made"? Steve: surprisingly, it’s almost identical to what it used to be. Even in the early days, people didn’t expect to get rich on stock at Microsoft. In the early 90s, we thought it had gone as high as it could go. There aren’t many companies where you can get a 10x stock appreciation: it’s usually a startup, and most startups fail.
1:28pm – Guy: my kids have no history of the OS and desktop wars – they think of Microsoft just as the Zune and Xbox company. Steve: the opportunity is for us to make great products. For the 17m people who own Xbox 360, or the 10-11m people who are Xbox Live subscribers, but even kids find themselves using office productivity applications for homework.
1:31pm – Guy: tell the audience about your strategy for Silverlight. Steve: there’s been a big fork in the road historically – either I build something that’s easy to deploy through the browser, or I build a powerful, rich desktop application. Over time, we’re trying to bring those two worlds together, so you truly get the best of the Internet and the best of the PC all in one place. We announced Silverlight at MIX07, and we’re already seeing 1.5m downloads a day. Windows Presentation Foundation is also seeing lots of momentum.
1:34pm – Guy: don’t Apple do a great job with design? Isn’t my MacBook Air wonderful?! Steve: it weighs more than my machine and it doesn’t even have a DVD drive. Guy: who needs a DVD drive? Steve: you tell that to your kids on a long flight! Let’s take that machine away and give you something that’s got a full set of features, and then we can talk.
1:35pm – Guy: do you think there’s a risk that Microsoft is losing its focus? Steve: you move forward or backward.
1:39pm – Guy: let’s talk about Firefox and IE. We’re investing heavily in Internet Explorer – lots of browser innovation. Guy: what about IE on the Mac? Steve: how do I say this sensitively? Of all the places we could put our energy for innovation, porting our browser to the Mac is fairly low down the list.
1:42pm – Guy: I’ve got to be honest, and admit that I’ve been doing an increasing amount of work with Microsoft over the last few years, and I have to admit that I’ve seen a change in Microsoft. The "new" Microsoft employee is different – not arrogant, better at responding than other companies. Dan’l Lewin and the guys down in Silicon Valley are doing a great job of bringing Microsoft to people who might not otherwise experience the company.
1:44pm – Attendee: what about Adobe? Steve: Adobe are a competitor, of course; but we also appreciate the innovation they’ve done with technologies like PDF.
1:46pm – Attendee: .NET is great and there’s been lots of innovation on this side of the developer platform; why did IE get left out for so long? Steve: partly because Internet Explorer was shipped as part of the operating system and there was a long gap between Windows XP and Windows Vista. You won’t see that kind of gap again – we now understand how to get things decoupled sufficiently to develop innovations separately from the OS and then bring them back later.
1:48pm – Attendee: if Microsoft take over Yahoo, what will you do with all those PHP applications? Steve: obviously we shouldn’t have two of everything – two search services, advertising services, mail services etc. Some of the technology would come from the Microsoft side, some from the Yahoo side. I’m sure that when all is said and done, some of them would still be running. There will be lots of innovation in the core infrastructure, and over time, probably most of the big applications on the Internet will wind up being redone, but for the forseeable future, we would be a PHP "shop" if we own Yahoo as well as an ASP.NET shop. One of the key things we’ve done in Windows Server is to ensure that it’s the best place for PHP applications.
1:50pm – Attendee: what synergies do you see with Yahoo? Steve: scale is a form of synergy. The more search share, the more advertisers you have, the more bidding you get in keywords, the more revenue you get. Google has a bigger body of ad inventory than either Microsoft or Yahoo do individually and bringing the companies together can result in benefits.
1:52pm – Attendee: you did a great job by acquiring FAST Search – it’s amazing technology. Steve: we’re in the regulatory phase here; we love the company and we’ll have more to say when we’re through the approval process.
1:54pm – Attendee: what is Microsoft going to offer in terms of cloud computing? Steve: with the launch of Hyper-V, it makes it easy for anyone to set up a datacenter for cloud services. Ray Ozzie hinted at some plans we’re going to announce later in the year.
1:55pm – Attendee: any news about Silverlight for the iPhone? Steve: this is of course interesting; we’d love to see Silverlight in as many places as possible. Apple today announced an SDK and runtime, but they want 30% of all revenue that you make on it. This is a great model if you can make it stick, I’m not sure that many developers will be interested in that arrangement.
1:57pm – Guy: what kind of mobile phone do you have? Steve: I’m always rotating around from one phone to another.
1:58pm – Attendee: when are we going to see Silverlight as the default for Microsoft properties, e.g. Hotmail? Steve: you’ll see it in a lot of places over the coming months and years. Of course, we have the same codebase issues as everyone else- it’s only when we update a product that it makes sense to consider changing the delivery mechanism.
1:59pm – Attendee: can you tell us about your plans for the health sector? Steve: health is the only vertical we’ve really invested in, both because it’s the largest sector and because there’s a lot of potential there. We have technologies like HealthVault that are trying to bootstrap the idea of a portable medical record.
2:01pm – Attendee: what are your plans for Blu-Ray now that it’s won the format war? Steve: we liked HD DVD because it was there early, but we’re not a player manufacturer. We’ll add support for Blu-Ray, of course, and we already have support in Windows Vista, for example. It’s interesting to note though that there is a move towards digital downloads: maybe not in the next year or two, but certainly in the medium-term.
2:05pm – Attendee: thank you for DreamSpark and Channel 8: this really helps us out as students. We’ve got the tools – how can you help us out with servers / services? Steve: plenty of hosting companies out there. (Tim: don’t forget the MIX Sandbox either!) Students can also check out these sessions at http://sessions.visitmix.com.
2:12pm – And we’re done!