"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
"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."