Ballmer Should Skip Pep Talk at CES

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When Steve Ballmer gives his keynote address at CES, he's widely expected to tout the benefits of Windows 7, and give his usual pep rally speech --- minus the "monkey boy" dance, one hopes. If he were smart, though, here are five things he'd say instead of the usual marketing pablum.

"I apologize for Vista."

He should start off with the words everyone wants to hear --- that Microsoft made a giant stumble with Vista. Whatever you think of the capabilities of Vista (and I'm a fan), Microsoft botched the rollout and erred big-time with hardware incompatibilities. It's time to pull a mea culpa.

"We're settling the Vista Junk PC suit."

The revelations in this seamy marketing scheme just keep coming. The latest: Microsoft made more than $1.5 billion on the campaign...all the while angering users. Microsoft should settle the suit and focus on the future, not the past.

"Windows 7 will be out mid-year."

Microsoft has been losing market share at an unprecedented rate. There are several reasons for that, but one of them is certainly Vista, which in addition to getting bad press, won't run on hardware in the fastest-growing segment of the PC world --- netbooks. Microsoft needs to get Windows 7 out fast. Ballmer should announce that Microsoft will ship Windows 7 by the middle of 2009.

"Windows 7 will be the last 'big-bang' operating system."

Microsoft should finally publicly acknowledge that the days of the big operating system release are over. There's no reason that users should have to wait two, three years or longer to get an updated operating system. After Windows 7, new operating systems should have a very small core, with components being added and upgraded constantly.

"All Microsoft software will run as Web-based applications or in the cloud."

Microsoft should announce a new direction for its online efforts --- no longer will it chase Google. It should recognize Google has won the battle for search. Instead, Microsoft should focus on its core strengths, applications and operating systems. The company has already announced that Microsoft Office will run as a Web-based application, which is a major move in the right direction. It should announce that its other applications will run via the Web, or in a cloud, as well.

This story, "Ballmer Should Skip Pep Talk at CES" was originally published by Computerworld.

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