Ballmer goes to LSE as internal doc calls for radical overhaul of MS

'Volleyball, baby. Boom'

Microsoft is privately telling its staff that the company’s way of doing business needs to be re-addressed – the only trouble being that public knowledge of that fact has been evident for some time now.

The software vendor’s CEO Steve Ballmer was in London this morning speaking at the London School of Economics to a student and press crowd, where he effectively did a retread of his thoughts on cloud computing and what it means – in a purely positive sense – for Microsoft.

An internal document, seen by The Register, was farmed out today to Microsoft flacks at the event, which explained in stark terms what the firm needs to do in order to move away from its current identity crisis.

“Business processes that have remained untouched for years urgently need to be examined,” it warned.

Then cut to Ballmer on stage at the LSE applying his best salesmen shtick to all things cloudy.

Despite Microsoft’s stock being downgraded by brokerage Goldman Sachs just yesterday, Ballmer insisted today that his company is doing “pretty darn good”.

But he accepted that MS “could do better,” before defensively adding, presumably with a nod to Goldman, that: “I’m not gonna be apologetic about our results nor our investment.”

El Reg asked Ballmer if he thought the operating system was effectively dead, given the company’s shift into cloud computing. We also wanted to know what that meant for development of Windows 8, and finally to his thoughts on Google’s Chrome OS.

The Microsoft boss chose to stonewall our questions.

“What’s that [Chrome OS]? One more time... [he finally hears the magic word] Oh, Google. That’s funny.”

Ballmer clearly thinks the cloud competition in the shape of the Mountain View Chocolate Factory at least can be laughed off.

He prefers to see Microsoft’s rivals as being the likes of Amazon, Oracle and VMware. At the same time he disagrees with Goldman’s observation that the company isn’t the market leader in the cloud biz yet.

Steve did take what was arguably a sideways swipe at Google, however, by saying that Microsoft takes privacy “very seriously”.

Google, of course, has come under the spotlight repeatedly for its increasingly creepy data mining skills.

So naturally Ballmer’s promise on privacy in the cloud will be seen as a plus point by the man himself, up against Google’s omnipresence online.

It needs a “contract” said the MS Chief. “Privacy has to be a decision that users get to make on their own behalf.”

Beyond that, Ballmer largely stuck to the revised Microsoft script today. He wants the entire company to learn the lines about bringing a hybrid structure of cloud, desktop and smartphone into organisations.

After all, Redmond's top man – whose favourite game on the Xbox is "volleyball, baby" – now finds himself in the unenviable position of having to convince Wall Street investors that MS stock is worth buying again. ®

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