Steve Ballmer: Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2004

Remarks by Steve Ballmer, Chief Executive Officer, Microsoft Corporation

Worldwide Partner Conference 2004

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

July 13, 2004

I’m not sure what it is; it’s about 5:00, 6:00 in the morning in Seattle. I got in late last night. But I’m as fired up as I’ve been in months to have a chance to be here with you today. (Cheers, applause.)

What can I say? We have had together what I think is absolutely one of the most fantastically successful years in Microsoft’s history and I want to say thank you to the most important group out there, you, our partners, great job! (Cheers, applause.) It’s for you, come on! (Cheers, applause.)

I don’t care what dimension we talk about, I feel like the last 12 months were fantastic. We’re going to report our earnings soon, so I’m not going to talk about that kind of stuff today, but I think everybody in the world read this memo we sent out last week, which is what happens when you send a Microsoft memo, but it was clear we’ve been growing faster than the other guys, everybody we compete with basically in this space we’ve been outgrowing, largely driven by the strength and energy and passion and commitment of our partners. That’s fantastic.

We’ve made, I think, at least a year or more of progress on security in the last year, we’re not perfect. We’re not where we need to be. But we’ve had velocity in really getting after the most important issue that you and our customers told us about 12 months ago, and I’m fired up about that, and we’re going to keep it right there burned at the top of our brain, the priority of addressing the issues you identified on behalf of our customers. So thank you for that.

The buzz, the word from our friends, from our partners who e-mail me, from the questions that we’ve got is, we’ve made this year a real year’s worth of progress in terms of the way we engage together, and go to market together,. Not without issues, not without ongoing need for improvement, but I think, and I’m sure as we get into question and answer if I’m wrong I’ll hear about it, but I think we’ve made a year’s worth of progress in terms of really recognizing your unique capabilities, forming a framework, going to market together. Still issues to improve, but you keep that feedback coming, because we’re absolutely committed to driving our business forward together.

My enthusiasm, I think, should be clear. This company, this company, Microsoft, was built I say this every year, and I feel obliged to say it again every year, we were built on the principle of specialization. What’s the name of the company whose conference you’re all attending? Microsoft, not Macrohard; Microsoft, not Macro Services; not Micro Printers, Microsoft. Bill Gates and Paul Allen made a strategic decision, which we have never questioned, never questioned, when they founded our company 30 years ago, to really focus in on a core competency in microcomputer software. And to really build from that competency, to make sure that we had the relationships that we needed to have with anybody else, other software companies, hardware companies, services companies, training companies, reselling companies, I’m sure I’ve missed some company, and I apologize in advance for not going through every competency that everybody has. But we decided to specialize. And I’ll get questions every year about, are we evolving our model, changing our model, and we tweak, and we tune, but we’ve never varied, and I see nothing on the horizon that will cause us to vary from our basic focus on microcomputer software in partnership with the folks who are represented in this room. So, not only do I say thank you for helping drive just really a fantastic 12 months, but I also want to say thank you for what you’ll do the next year, the year after that, the year after that, and the year after that. Because if we invest sensibly together, we’ve got a lot of great years in front of us, Microsoft and the partners in this room really driving this industry like nobody’s seen. So, thank you in advance for all of that.

I’m very enthusiastic, also, about the future of our industry. This has been in fashion and out of fashion, to be enthusiastic. You know, in 2000, it was really en vogue to be in love with tech. In 2002, it was really kind of not en vogue to be in love with tech. And we’ve all seen the bubble, the bubble burst. We’ve seen the hard times. Probably harder on a lot of you, frankly, than it was on us individually, and we’re very focused in on that fact, things have turned around, the business is growing again. I think people can get excited about it. But the truth of the matter is, in the long run there is no better business, no better business to be in in the world, in my opinion, than information technology, and it’s because of the fundamental value and the fundamental proposition that we get to put in front of our joint customers.

We talk about that as the mission, enabling people and businesses throughout the world to realize their full potential. If anybody believes that this mission will be realized or fulfilled in our working lifetimes, you’re wrong. You’re wrong. The pace of change of technology continues unabated. Hardware innovation, software innovation, the customer pain points and customer needs are still largely unfulfilled, and that gives us all an opportunity. The opportunities are dynamic, they’re not necessarily going to be the same in 2006 as they are in 2004, and that puts pressure on all of us to stay nimble and on our feet. We have to innovate in technology. You’re going to have to innovate in your business and your business approaches, and what services and value you add. Together, we have a very bright future as long as we’re embued, all of us, with the positive potential and positive outcomes and change that we can all drive for our mutual customers with information technology.

2004 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.