Ballmer stands defiant

www.infoworld.com |  Government

ROTTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer here Thursday slammed the decision by the U.S. District Court to pursue the breakup of the company, branding it unreasonable, excessive, inconsistent, and riddled with errors.

"There will be no breakup," Ballmer said. "It is premature to look at the cost of implementing the behavioral restrictions and the effects on the business," he said, and the company is "not making contingency plans. We are pursuing our appeal and our basic job of building new technology."

Speaking of his enthusiasm for Microsoft's future Ballmer said, "Microsoft is moving forward with an appeal to the U.S. District Court's decision."

The appeal is complicated because two lawsuits are involved, one by the federal government and one by state governments, he said.

"The case brought by the states cannot directly go to the Supreme Court. The only place those cases can be consolidated is the appeals court", Ballmer said in a press conference here at the Microsoft Internet Experience, an event for the company's customers.

Ballmer is on a European tour, meeting customers and business partners in Norway Wednesday, the Netherlands Thursday morning, and the United Kingdom Thursday afternoon.

"The overwhelming response from the customers and partners that I have visited in Europe in the past days has been supportive," he said.

"The District Court's decision unfortunately does not reflect the reality as customers and partners the world over experience it. Microsoft has always worked to improve our products and make them widely available at low prices, certainly the mark of a company in a very competitive industry," Ballmer said.

Nor does the court's decision reflect the reality of the world's other competitive and creative industries, he said.

Since the lawsuit was filed, Ballmer said, more than 200 million computers have been sold, and the competitive landscape has been reshaped by a number of factors, including the sharp rise in Internet commerce and a number of large mergers, such as that of AOL and Time Warner.

A new generation of powerful software, chips, and wireless technology is making the power of the personal computer available on a whole range of devices, from domestic appliances upwards, Ballmer said.

"Breaking up Microsoft would almost certainly disrupt that, and would certainly mean higher prices, less choice, and harder-to-use products for consumers," he said.

With or without the breakup of Microsoft, "small companies have flourished and would indeed continue to flourish," Ballmer said, but without an intact Microsoft, "the unique innovation which Microsoft has been able to bring to market will be denied to consumers world round."

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