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SJ Mercury: Ballmer vents on friends and foes - calls Linux "crummy"

Feb 09, 2001, 18:27 (37 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Peter Delevett)

[ Thanks to Kevin Collins for this link. ]

"Steve Ballmer, the lumbering, loquacious chief executive of Microsoft Corp., is never a man to mince words. His propensity for palaver is on full display in an interview in the March issue of Fast Company magazine, which hits newsstands Monday. In the piece, which a Fast Company insider slipped to me in advance, Ballmer takes aim at the Linux operating system, Internet infrastructure companies like BroadVision Inc. and Interwoven Inc., and longtime adversary (and sometime partner) IBM. Ballmer even throws a mild jab at his Seattle-area neighbor, Amazon.com Inc."

"As Microsoft's arteries have clogged, it may have lost its edge. One reflection of this, I've remarked to numerous tech executives, is that there seems to be a lot less palpable hostility around the valley toward the Redmond giant than in years past. Another sign, Ballmer allows in the article, is the flight of many Microsoft employees to dot-coms in recent years. The company now is working harder to recruit employees and keep them happy, the CEO says."

"Perhaps not surprisingly, Ballmer calls Linux -- which rose to prominence as an alternative to Microsoft's overwhelmingly dominant Windows operating system -- "crummy." Yet he grudgingly admits the open-source platform has emerged as a major competitor in some market niches, like multi-site Web hosting. "In some markets," Ballmer says in the ultimate back-handed compliment, "crummy has been OK."

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