All change – Steve Ballmer discusses innovation, Microsoft and enterprise IT

Tim Cozze-Young was at the Microsoft Executive Briefing in London to hear what our CEO, Steve Ballmer, had to say about the future of IT and how Microsoft is evolving to meet the needs of enterprise customers.

In 2020, three-quarters of the Fortune 500 will be companies we haven’t heard of yet, according to Yale’s Richard Foster. IT will be fundamental to this business revolution. I was at Microsoft’s Enterprise Briefing on 7 November to hear how Microsoft is creating and enabling change.

Keeping ahead of constant change

The pace of change is astonishing. In 1990, if you unplugged Tim Berners-Lee’s computer, you unplugged the internet. Now it’s everywhere. There are as many internet devices as there are people on the planet. Storage costs have dropped dramatically – as low as 0.03 pence per megabyte.

This driving force of change was the context for Steve Ballmer’s presentation at the event. He explained that when he joined Microsoft 32 years ago, it was ‘just’ a software company. Today, “we’re not only reimagining our flagship product, Windows, but also how we go to market. Although our core skill is software, we’re becoming a devices and software company.”

For Ballmer, innovation is essential. “We don’t want there to be any seam, hardware or software, across which we’re not innovating. We’re in the most competitive time in our lives since the early 90s,” adding with a typical flourish, “It’s fun and exciting.”

Innovation in the enterprise

Of course, his focus was on Windows 8 but he showed us how it delivers innovation to the enterprise. Not only could attendees play with Surface devices running Windows 8 RT, but he also had a giant 84” touch screen display running Windows 8 (he has one in his office) and he showed us his own Windows 8 Phone and explained how he could access his business information on each device, seamlessly moving from one to another.

Our CEO talked about different cases for switching enterprise users to Windows 8: people buying new computers, people upgrading from Windows XP (“10 years of end of life seemed like such a long time ago back then,” he remarked), and people such as mobile workers who can benefit from touchscreen devices and constant connectivity.

But because Windows 8 builds on Windows 7, there’s much to gain and nothing to lose by moving everyone. He explained that if you’re ready to go with Windows 7 today, for example if you’re using the latest version of System Center, then you can pick and mix Windows 8 without any extra work.

It was a broad-ranging presentation and discussion. It covered the cloud, devices like Surface, Windows Phones, Windows 8 and Office 2013. It firmly located Microsoft’s latest technology right in the heart of big business as a powerful tool for change and competitive advantage.

by Tim Cozze-Young

Audience Marketing Manager, Microsoft UK Enterprise Team