Steve Ballmer: Opportunity to Create Compelling Experiences

Remarks by Steve Ballmer, CEO, Microsoft
Mumbai, India
May 28, 2010

STEVE BALLMER: Well, thanks. I am super glad to have a chance to be here with you today. I want to share a few thoughts. We get a chance to present a few awards, which I’m excited about, and just have a chance to really sort of conceive of where we all have an opportunity to take the world.

I’m coming up on my 30th anniversary at Microsoft. Oh, am I old. (Applause.) But the thing that’s unbelievable that gets me kind of fired up every day is the fact that the chance to do exciting work is unbelievable today, maybe even more unbelievable, frankly, than the day I got to Microsoft, which you could say, come on, there was no PC, there was no Internet, how can today be more exciting? Well, maybe I just know more today than I did then.

But for those of you sitting in the audience, people are really going to create the future, create the future, exciting, interesting, innovative, new applications, content, experiences, devices, and yet we at Microsoft are going to do our part, too, to do all of that, and to give you the tools and platforms that you need to drive forward. It’s just an incredibly exciting time, I think, to have anything to do with technology.

In case you’re not quite as pumped up about this as I am, we prepared just a short video, just two minutes, two minutes, just to get you to think about some of the things that we and you ought to be, and will be, creating over the course of the next few years.

So, let’s roll the video, please.

(Video segment.)

Two minutes, that’s all it was, two minutes. Maybe it was two minutes, 12 seconds. But just think about it, whether it’s small screen devices, middle-size screen devices, screens that are as big as a wall, screens that can fold and be put in your pocket, we showed a variety of new things that you’ll be able to do with information technology.

The little boy and the little girl who are communicating with each other across the world as if they’re in a virtual classroom together, one communicating in English, and the other communicating in Thai, whether it’s a newspaper that’s as thin, and light, and flexible as a piece of paper that you can mark on an annotate, and sort of be the digital record, if you will, of your life, whether it’s the ability to bring a digital shopping list into a store, and have it automatically map what you want to do with what’s available. Whether it’s the ability to model the physical world in the virtual world to design next generation products, or to teach and help people repair and fix complex and sophisticated machinery. Wall-sized boards that let you navigate through seas of information to get exactly the right insight to solve your problem, next generation content, and interactivity, all of these things will be inventable.

We’re focusing our attention in really three key areas, and the amount of innovation that we hope as a company to unlock in all of you, and many others around the world, will stem from those innovations. We’re trying to build intelligent clients, which include and integrate the best of today’s rich client, and the best of today’s browsers. If you take a look, for example, at what we’re doing with Internet Explorer 9, and we’re really trying to enable the best of the browser, and the best of hardware exploitation in the rich client, you can see the path to the future.

Next generation server and cloud platforms that allow you build applications that intelligently can be deployed and distributed around the globe through technologies like Windows and SQL Azure. Intelligent capabilities that help you manage presentation, information management, like SharePoint. Compute, and run-times, like Windows Server, and Azure, and, of course, data storage and data management, and then, run times and tools that actually allow you to be effective in building those applications.

Everything we do, we’re trying to contemplate and think through: how did we make it available to the kinds of developers sitting in the room today and watching versus via webcast throughout India? How did we give you the tools that let you build these kinds of amazing experience?

I get asked often, where are you going with Bing? You really have an uphill competitive battle with your Bing product. Where are you going? How do you think about that? Even Bing, which in some senses is a platform for matching what we know about the world, and what we know about the world’s users, that data platform, we see putting in a form and making available over time to the developers of the world.

Phones. Windows Phone, a new release this year, TVs, et cetera. So, we see a broad range of technologies that we need to both make solutions for customers, and make into platforms that you can build off of and leverage and take to the next level in terms of delivering on the kinds of scenarios that we show in the picture.

Our industry and our company talk a lot these days about cloud, cloud, cloud, cloud, cloud. The future is cloud. When you try to talk to non-technical people about the cloud, they really have a hard time understanding it. It’s sort of an interesting phenomenon. Some people want to say, oh, the cloud is when you take your data center and you put it in the Internet. I think the cloud is actually a lot more than that.

The cloud is the direction in which we’re evolving every one of our products, Windows, Office, Bing, Internet Explorer, Windows Server, SQL Server, SharePoint, I don’t know, I may have missed one in there, but every one of our key products embracing this notion of the cloud. And the cloud is probably best characterized as two things.

Number one, it’s the fusion of the best of the Internet with the best of the enterprise data center, with the best of the PC, with the best of the phone and the TV. We’ve had the world of the Internet and the world of PC computing, and they were weakly linked through the browser. We’re trying to make that stronger. People generally think of the Internet and the enterprise data center. We’re trying to bring those technologies together and allow you to get the benefits of Internet scale and availability with the benefits that come in terms of reliability, privacy, et cetera.

So, the cloud represents a fusion of a lot of different things. And I think when we’re done all of us in this room can understand where we’re going, but characterizing the change and dimension and what we mean, I think, is important. And so when we at Microsoft talk about the cloud, I like to talk about the five dimensions, the five things that guide us as we change and improve and enhance, and innovate in every one of our products.

First of all, the cloud creates new opportunities and new responsibilities. Just think how much easier it will be to create a new application and immediately, without having to set up servers, by space, blah, blah, blah, blah, push a button, deploy globally, put in the marketplace, deploy globally, not just code that runs on any one client, but code that can propagate the clients, that runs in the cloud, that’s available with low latency in India, and London, and New York, the cloud creates opportunities, with billing and commercial infrastructure that every developer doesn’t have to go recreate on their own. But, the cloud also is going to create a set of new responsibilities.

Privacy, security, reliability, today when you send somebody a disk, or you have your own website, the level of interaction is very low and yet already there’s a big debate in the world at large about privacy, and this is in a world where we’re exchanging minimal data, some cookie information, occasionally a piece of e-mail, or something else. Our industry is going to have to innovate and our company is going to have to innovate in creating platforms to help that.

Two, the cloud learns and helps you learn, decide, and take action. The truth of the matter is, a lot of what we’ve learned about the Internet it’s about connecting people to people and people to data. And in the world of the Internet, data is part of our collective programming platform.

In historic computing models, data wasn’t really part of the platform. You couldn’t aggregate and look at the world’s data as a resource. Yet, two things are true. One, in the world of the Internet the world’s data is a resource. And in some senses companies like ours will build platforms that learn more about the data of the world every day, and make it available to you, and learn more about the users in the world. Again, with their privacy, with their consent, and make it available to you.

The cloud is also about a different kind of software. I grew up, as I said, 30 years in the industry and mostly what we do is we write programs that are deterministic. You tell them specifically what to do. The world of the cloud will start making statistical approximations.

I literally will try to sketch our, or say hey, look, I just type in, show me sales by country, by GDP growth, by debt as a percentage of GDP. It will try to guess what I meant, the way a search engine does, but it will be integrated and built in all the way down to each and every application experience. Replacing the way we command and control applications. And it will learn, and get better at doing that all the time.

The cloud enhances social and professional interaction. This is about connecting people to people. The notion of the social graph, or what we know about people and their preferences becomes part of the platform on which you’ll build applications. The cloud wants smarter devices. One of the great myths that I think some people believe in is that we’re going to have all dumb devices talking to a smart cloud. I don’t believe that at all. If you look at the video we showed, those are smart devices that are doing augmented reality and a variety of other things. They may not be complex and hard to manage, but they will be smart. And Microsoft, and the people we compete with, we’re going to compete to innovate in the next generation of smart phones, PCs, and TVs.

And last, but certainly not least, the way we think about the server, and the software and hardware that that represents, will change. First, hardware, today we think about servers, you write programs that run on servers. If you’re really good you’ve learned about virtual machines instead of just physical machines. But, you still write applications that know about it, their environment.

The world of the cloud is a world in which we write programs that are independent, that don’t have a physical abstraction to them. We build applications that are designed to be operated at scale and around the world, then updated and deployed quickly. That’s what we’re trying to do in Windows Azure, not just give you a virtual machine in a cloud, but give you an enhanced programming paradigm designed for the cloud.

The cloud is also about hardware that doesn’t look like a server, it’s about essentially a data center that comes in a box. It has processors, and storage, and networking, and you basically buy one, you plug in the power, you plug in the Internet connection, you probably have to plug in a hose. It used to be a fire hose, now we’re down to a small garden hose in order to provide cooling. But, the hardware, the software, the infrastructure is different. And, in fact, that’s going to shape how we think about the cloud itself.

When people talk about the cloud today primarily, they’re talking about the so-called public cloud, the cloud where this new commercial model where you lease applications and you rent space. But, there will be people who want to own their own cloud, for security, privacy, for governmental regulation reasons. And those advances in essentially data center in a box, with the right software, they will promulgate back in to the way we think about enterprise computing and private clouds today. So, the cloud is the north star for us, absolutely the north star, and where we’re taking all of these products.

We, Microsoft, are fortunate to have seen great response from folks in the room, and many others to a lot of the products we’ve put in market in the last year. Windows 7 is our fast  not our fastest, the fastest selling operating system in history. Windows Live, I encourage you to go take a look at some of the early reviews, or participate with the beta of the so-called Windows Live Wave Four release we’re now making.

Office 2010, which I get a chance to launch in India this year, the beta had over US$5.5 million downloads. Two-thirds of PCs on the planet do have Internet Explorer as their preferred browser. And we see momentum in that dimension. Windows, SQL Server, SharePoint Server, are all evolving to be more and more fundamental infrastructure of the corporate marketplace.

So, we’re pleased with the acceptance of the products that we put in market, and yet we’re working to drive innovations and new capabilities across the line, not just for end users, but for developers themselves. You take a look at the new version of Microsoft Office, we’ve taken our new so-called fluid user interface. You can now mimic it and use it in your own applications.

Internet Explorer, if you take a look at the top 10 websites here in India, eight of them have been optimized to take advantage of and have a better experience for people who are using Internet Explorer. Silverlight, 60 percent of PCs on the planet are using it, and yet the new release really improves the quality and smoothness of the video streaming, and so on and so forth. We’ll propagate these to the Internet, you can look at them. I’m going to go through the new capabilities, but it’s not just about the user, it’s about those of you who actually build websites, build experiences, and build applications.

You are fundamental to what we do and where we’re going. I’ll point you to a few I’d like you to take a particular look at, Windows Azure, SQL Azure. I’d like you to experiment with some of those on the Internet. We need to push those faster. There’s going to be a lot of innovation. We need to make them more available, bill them in rupees, do a lot of things. We’ve got a lot of work we’ve got to do to make those things accessible. And yet they’ll be very important as we move forward.

We’re embracing and developing standards, Internet Explorer 9 embraces HTML 5 and what it represents. We’ll supplement it. We’ll augment it with unique capabilities in the Windows platform. But, embracing and extending key standards is an important part of what we’re going to do. So, new capabilities for the user, but new capabilities also for all of you as software developers.

I love visiting India. I get here about every year, spend usually two days, maybe three, you might say that doesn’t sound like much. That’s more time than I spend in any other country in the world, other than the United States where I live. And I love coming here primarily because this is a country where a lot of important software developers are growing up, are graduating, are doing great work, sometimes immigrating to other countries, sometimes coming back, sometimes doing their work here.

But, I love the opportunity to be in India, primarily because the strength and vibrancy of the software development community. We’re also fortunate that we’ve had great success with our web platform, thanks to the work that you do and others here in India. The top Indian banks, including the Indian banks association recommends our Internet Explorer technology for secure access to banking sites.

The country’s number one media house, the Times Group, streams 24 by 7, news, business and entertainment channels using Silverlight. And today in the awards ceremony you’ll have an opportunity to see some other web experiences. But, it doesn’t stop there. We’ve got, I think, over 4,000 now applications written here in India running on Windows Azure. We have a number of partners who have gotten active, promoting, and using that platform for their applications. So, we’re extremely thankful and pleased with the level of support for our platforms, web and otherwise, here in the Indian market.

It’s an exciting time. I hope you get  if nothing else out of this speech I hope you get a sense of my enthusiasm. My enthusiasm for what we can all build together, my enthusiasm for what we’re trying to do specifically in our products to propel the market forward and excite the user. My enthusiasm for having you take advantage of the unique capabilities that we’re building, that you can leverage in our websites, and applications, and my enthusiasm for the incredible work and energy in the IT and technology community here in India.

So, with that let me stop, let me say thank you, it’s a pleasure to have a chance to be here. It will be a pleasure to participate in the awards ceremony and to all of you good luck, and may you build the best web site ever.

MODERATOR: Thank you so much, Steve. That was a very passionate and enthusiastic talk. I’m sure it is very contagious, and it’s going to accelerate the momentum in this marketplace further. Thank you.

And now Steve has mentioned we’ve only seen huge momentum with the country’s top online properties, and here today we are going to showcase three of our customers and partners and just from then the most exciting part of the agenda, we’re also going to talk about the finalists. You know, you are talking about the Webby awards. Those are the things we’re going to cover. So, let me call up on stage Pravir Vohra, the group CTO of ICICI. Roll the video please.

Pravir, I think we have a short video of ICICI, and then we would like to hear from you what your experience has been in terms of the trading platform that you guys have been building on Silverlight. I would like to hear a little bit about it right after the video, on to you.

(Video segment.)

PRAVIR VOHRA: So, good afternoon. I’m not going to talk about ICICI Bank, I’m going to talk about a company called ICICI Securities. I’m not sure some of you are aware of it. But, I’m pretty sure you would have heard of their retail broking arm called

It’s one of the largest equity broking, online equity broking houses in the country. They have about 2 million customers. They do about one out of every 13 online trades. The country goes through ICICI Direct, by volume they do actually about 12 or 13 percent of the online market.

Ballpark they’re doing about half a million trades a day. That’s fairly large, given our market. Now, the problem I think with all early adopters is you’re in the market too soon, it’s like the wild west in the U.S. And you have great products, and the customers like them, but over a period of time  when I was in school there was an English adage, familiarity breeds contempt.

People get used to doing something, and it starts getting jaded. And a couple of years ago we decided that we needed to breathe new life into some of our platforms. And I’m delighted that we chose to partner with Microsoft and what we did was to actually introduce rich Internet applications, I believe, for the first time in India, to give our retail customers the opportunity and the look and feel that professional traders and brokers used to get, using typical client-based applications. Those had all the limitations of rolling them out, supporting them, how do you reach a million desktops and so on. And so really what we’ve done in partnership with Microsoft is to build and it’s progressively going to grow. We have started building  rebuilding parts of our platform using Silverlight and some of the RIA kind of architectures. We are quite delighted with the results, and I would like to invite Steve to launch this product for us.


STEVE BALLMER: All right. Let’s go ahead. They seem to have made it very simple, click to launch. Viola. (Applause.)

MODERATOR: Thank you, Pravir, for sharing that experience. And I think we have a quick memento thanking you for that, just give us a quick second.

STEVE BALLMER: You can all just take the URL right off of the screen right here, and in your own time, I encourage you to visit the ICICI Direct website.

MODERATOR: Steve, can I please request you to hand it over.

(Award presentation.)

That was awesome. And now, moving on, let me please invite Rishi Khiani, the CEO of Times Internet Limited. (Applause.)

Rishi, I understand your team has been working on creating innovative solutions for enhancing the user experience. Why don’t you please tell us your experience and how it’s going?

RISHI KHIANI: Well, you’ve made our life easier. You know, you’ve done most of the work. So, to give you a little bit of background, when the Times of India, India’s largest media house, was looking at a partner for its live platform, there were a couple of points, a couple of basic requirements that had to be met. We needed a partner who would help create something that would be cross-platform, so it would be available on multiple devices. We needed to create something that could be rapidly deployed, and utilize a workforce that was already working on similar technologies. We needed scalability. We needed the flexibility to basically go after the creativity while someone else managed all the back end. And when we looked at the various partners, I would say Microsoft came out on top. And the team has done a fantastic job in the last six months since we’ve been collaborating.

The first product that we actually launched was around budget time last year, when we created this immersive experience where users who came to the site could actually answer polls, and send links to Facebook, the whole social connect with the Live Platform, where we actually had the entire Finance Minister’s speech broadcast live across  I think we did about 100,000 users at that time. We followed that up with TED India. So, for those who are aware of TED, it has a fantastic following worldwide. This was the first time in the history of TED that they actually broadcast the entire event live on the Internet. And they chose to do it with Microsoft and us.

Some of the other firsts that I think we’ve done in collaboration with Microsoft, Wills Lifestyle. The first time ever, you know, all five days of the fashion show live on the Internet. The ability for users to actually use some of the technologies like Deep Zoom to look at the various designer’s fashions, and the offerings. I think we did a fantastic job there.

Today, you know, one of the things that  it’s actually quite a great moment for us. We’ve managed to partner with about 11 premium television channels. And this from the Times of India, where we’ve always been behind this walled garden. We’ve actually collaborated with Viacom. We’ve collaborated with India TV, and a lot of other partners, and we’ve created a platform called  (off mike)  sorry, where we have a host of live television channels, and we’re going to follow that up with a lot of live events that we’re going to be doing.

We’re trying to  (off mike)  which is going to make it easier for any person to broadcast the event from wherever they are. It’s going to be a low cost device, and we’re, again, partnering with Microsoft to make that all possible.

MODERATOR: Thank you so very much for sharing your experience, and being a technology partner. Thank you so very much.

Hold on a second. We have a memento for you, Rishi, Steve, if you could, please.

(Award presentation.)

That was very good, and let me now call upon a partner, the third of the third example before we move on to the Webby Awards. This is Jagadeesh.

And now, from Netmagic Solutions, the Chairman of the Board, Jagadeesh, please come on up. How are you doing? Good. Good.

(Video segment.)

Jagadeesh, I understand there is a lot of momentum picking up on the pay-as-you-go offering that you guys have been coming up with. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about that?

B.V. JAGADEESH: Absolutely. Absolutely. Just to give a little background, Netmagic, which started about 10 years ago, has done a fantastic execution with thousands of customers, and millions of end users who are actually visiting the customers that we are hosting, especially a lot of mission critical kind of applications on all the fronts, financial applications, enterprise applications, Internet-centric class of applications. It’s absolutely been fascinating for us for the last 10 years or so. And, interestingly enough, almost 60 percent of our customers actually run on Microsoft platforms. So, that’s fantastic news.

So, having seen that, we launched  (off mike)  about six months ago, and we were the first ones to bring this cloud services to the market. So, fantastic success we have seen with over 100 customers just in the last four or five months. And now, with the demand that’s coming from the customers, needing more elasticity, and requests for automated configuration, and hourly billing, right, which is essentially what you’re talking about, and, again, really reiterating the point that Steve was mentioning, that cloud is not just about the fact that you put the enterprise data center into the Internet, it’s beyond that. So, all of these capabilities is what we are launching with this Cloud 2.0, which is based on Microsoft virtualization technologies, which includes the Hyper-V, the Dynamic Data Center, and all of those next generation of the capabilities.

So, we are absolutely excited to partner with Microsoft, and to bring this Cloud 2.0 service to new customers. So, I encourage all of you to try this out. It’s really easy to use. It’s absolutely fascinating, and beneficial, because you just pay as you use. You don’t have to set up your servers. You don’t have to spend an enormous amount of time in setting up this infrastructure for you, and we will do all that stuff in the background.

So, with that, I would love to invite Steve to launch the Cloud 2.0 Service. Can we bring that up, please. Yes, there you go.

STEVE BALLMER: You know nobody trusts you technically when you’re only allowed to click to launch. (Applause.) I’m going to do it anyway.

B.V. JAGADEESH: As the CEO of the largest software company, right, you should be able to do this.

STEVE BALLMER: It’s an intuitive one. But let’s go ahead and take a look at the work of Netmagic. (Applause.)

MODERATOR: Thank you very much. And hang on a second, Jadadeesh.

STEVE BALLMER: So, this is a self-provisioning portal for people who come to use your hosting services?

B.V. JAGADEESH: Absolutely. So, this is all based on Microsoft. So, people can set this up very easily. In fact, we were demonstrating this yesterday to the press. In the matter of about 20 minutes, the Windows Server actually comes up. So, you can set up how many CPUs you want, how much memory you want, how much storage you want, everything pretty much on the fly.

STEVE BALLMER: Congratulations.

MODERATOR: It’s really…

B.V. JAGADEESH: It’s real.

MODERATOR: All right. The most exciting part of the Webby Awards thing. We at Microsoft have been partnering and working very closely with Webby Awards in organizing the design excellence challenge for the last two months. And you have seen this morning, you know, we had Steve this morning, the final five nominations. They are to be presented to a jury that was spirited off, and they were asking some real tough questions. I saw that. And, you guys did pretty well. You know, all the people who were nominated, and here I’m going to invite Rajiv, Rajiv, please come out on stage, Rajiv Makoni (ph), to take us through the nominations and finalists.

(Webby Award Finalists Presentation.)

MODERATOR: Guys, this was not planned, but I have a couple of minutes with Steve. So, let me open up the floor for just maybe a question or two. This was not scheduled, but I thought you guys love to spend time with Steve. So, we’ll take one question here, the gentleman if, can you stand up.

QUESTION: (Off mike)  Windows Phone 7, Natal, et cetera, so when do we see that businesses considering India as a consumer segment also.

STEVE BALLMER: Yes, very good question, and very important to me. There are a couple of different issues from a Microsoft perspective. There are products where we’re trying to get we’ll call it the feel right before we go global. We’re doing that right now, for example, with Bing. We’ve got a real tough battle. We’ve done a nice job. We’ve gained actually market share. The first time anybody has taken market share from the market leader in a long time. We want to make sure we have the formula right, because it actually requires a significant additional investment to really do an individual country well with map data and a bunch of other things.

The other products, I think we just have to accelerate the pace of getting them into the India market. Certainly most of our products are targeted, let me call it, at the top of the economic pyramid in India, and we also have to recognize that and make sure that over time we expand the footprint of population that our consumer products target in the country.

MODERATOR: We’ll take one question from this side of the room, yes.

STEVE BALLMER: And he’s got a microphone approaching.

MODERATOR: Yes, he’s got it.

QUESTION: Congratulations for the (inaudible) secondly, I would like to request Microsoft that in my college days it was really like an expensive  we couldn’t afford the operating system. And I am extremely sorry to use a pirated operating system, Microsoft. (Laughter and applause.) No, this is a truth which I wanted to say to Microsoft long back. Sir, if you could  if Microsoft could come out with a student version, so lots of students in India would like to use operating systems. This is my personal request to Microsoft, and now when I have become capable I bought the genuine Microsoft. I apologize for that. I bought the genuine each and everything in my PC today is genuine.

STEVE BALLMER: Let me say a couple of things. It’s always a little hard for me to understand how somebody can afford to buy the computer, but not the software. Maybe it’s my bias, but it is I think  if people could, I’m sure they wouldn’t buy the hardware either. With that said, we have tried a number of things, not just for students, because it’s hard to isolate the student market. We’ve tried to do a lot of things to promote the use of genuine software. We’ve tried working on price, it didn’t help. We need to engage in a real market education, because there really is a difference. It turns out when people don’t use genuine software they’re more likely to also have viruses and other malware that gets copied from system to system, to system.

So, we’ll do our part. It’s not just a student issue. Today if you look across all of the PCs bought by people in India for their homes, only about 30 percent of them actually have a genuine version of Windows. We would like your help, and your support to improve, and you can count assured you have our support, and we will do the education and other pricing and other techniques that might make that more likely to occur, because I don’t think it helps anybody to have improper software distributed in the market.

Thanks for the question.

MODERATOR: Thank you all. I think we don’t have time. Thank you.

Thank you, Steve.

STEVE BALLMER: To everybody, thanks, it was my pleasure to be with you today.

MODERATOR: Thank you. Thank you so much, Steve.