Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft

This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, October 4, 2001.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Well, if Wall Street is getting back in gear, Microsoft might be in full throttle. From its lows after the attacks, the stock has rebounded nearly 20 percent, and this despite ongoing settlement talks with the Justice Department and a blitzkrieg of new product announcements that would at least give other companies pause.

Not so for Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. Only weeks ahead of the official launch of Windows XP, aimed at desktop users, something called Pocket PC 2002, targeted at hand-held users. Some might say, given the economy, the timing's bad. Not Steve Ballmer. Have a look.


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STEVE BALLMER, CEO, MICROSOFT: We thought certainly about whether this was an appropriate time to start introducing new products: the tragedy of September 11th is still very much with us. But after thinking hard about it — and we certainly had a lot of people very involved in trying to help companies come back on speed. We've been very involved with building Web sites for some of the important charitable organizations, the American Red Cross.

We did heed President Bush's guidance to get back to business and decided to go ahead and launch our Pocket PC 2002, a product we're super-excited about.

CAVUTO: Now, you've got to get people super-excited about buying it. There's been critical buzz about it. But we are in a pretty dicey economic environment. Are you worried that despite all the hoopla, despite all the bells and whistles, and the critical reviews, it's going to be a tough sell?

BALLMER: Well, we're in this business for the long run, and our goal is to invest and bring out products that really help boost people's productivity, education, enjoyment. And really, the Pocket PC, you know, 2002 is such a device.

And so it's important for us to push the product to market. And you know, it'll help the people who buy it. It'll excite a number of people. And that's the important contribution that we have to make really for the long run.

CAVUTO: There are a lot of people, though, Steve, who, as you know, are Palm devotees, who say, look, 170,000-some third-party programs, all these shareware programs and the like that dwarf what you offer, even with this improved product. What do you say to those devotees? Who are kind of like Star Trek fans, they never want to leave.

BALLMER: Well, I think, you know, what you say was true perhaps a year and a half ago, before we launched the first Pocket PC. Today, there's over 180,000 people writing software for the Pocket PC, and really the Pocket PC premise is that the device should be a lot more than just a place to keep your contacts and appointments.

Really, the range of things that you can do individually and as part of a company, an organization, with this device really exceeds, I think, anything else on the marketplace today. And that's why we've gone from being a very distant No. 2 to the point where Compaq actually today is the No. 1 revenue seller of PDA-based devices in the world.

CAVUTO: Do you think, though, that it has to be either you or them? In other words, that, you know, you either go with the Windows-type format or you go to these Palm devices? That can everyone coalesce around this sort of like we've seen in the financial arena with you, with Money and Quicken? That in other words, all of you guys can kind of live together?

BALLMER: I think the customers are going to decide. Consumers are going to take a look at the devices. IT managers and enterprises are going to take a look at the devices. And I know I'm not going to be happy as long as there's a customer out there who we're not able to delight.

And so, that's what we encourage our people to do, is just focus in what the customers are telling us and keep bringing out better devices for them.

CAVUTO: Which is the real future for you, though? You own the desktop operating systems. This is one area that's going to be a tougher beachhead for you. But you've got the two beachheads to deal with here. Which is looking more promising?

BALLMER: That's right. I mean, our goal as a company isn't so much the desktop or the server or this device. Our goal is to really help people get access to the information they want any time, any place and on any device, and really to provide rich software that enables that. And that is job one for us.

CAVUTO: OK. Could I end with a personal question to you?


CAVUTO: You're famous for that video that has been played around the world again and again, whooping up the troops, getting them psyched, and you are known to be quite an inspirational cheerleader for those troops. Do you like that style of management?

BALLMER: Well, I think every good manager tries to make sure that they're helping their employees and giving their employees and showing the leadership of their employees that they need when they need it at a given point in time. And I think many people who've ever been to a sales conference certainly understand the kind of enthusiasm that people like to see for the products and the company, and the kind of exhortations sometimes are helpful. And certainly, what I try do is serve our employees the best way I can.


CAVUTO: All right, Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO.

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