Q&A: Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer On Sharepoint 2010

The Microsoft CEO lays out the company's Internet-facing strategy for its enterprise collaboration tool, SharePoint 2010.
InformationWeek: You're also positioning SharePoint 2010 as a full-fledged content management system.

Steve Ballmer: Full-fledged. It is a more complete content management solution than ever before, and a higher percentage of all content management applications, I think, will move to it. And, yes, there are third parties that have even higher-end systems, and our goal would be both to continue to compete, but also to collaborate, so that hopefully they'll build their high-end capabilities in a way that they are extensions to the SharePoint offer.

InformationWeek: You've used collaboration as a lever to move into the content management space. Do you feel like the traditional content manager vendors may have missed an opportunity to do the reverse, using their content management systems as a platform to build a collaboration tool?

Steve Ballmer: I think it's tough to do the reverse. I think it's tough to start with the high end, and then go into the mainstream. It's tough to start with the narrow and go broad. I think it's easier and more sensible to start with the broad scenarios, and then go deeper, which is kind of what we're doing. So, I don't know whether they missed an opportunity, I think they just had a different orientation.

In a sense, one of the things we always debate inside our company is how much are you trying to build an end-to-end scenario that works, which everybody thinks is great, but that might make it too narrow, versus how much are you trying to build a horizontal capability which can be extended and morphed. And I certainly find advantage, when we get it right, to building broad horizontal capabilities that are extensible and programmable.

InformationWeek: You also talked about the cloud version of SharePoint 2010. Is that going to be available at the same time as the premises version?

Steve Ballmer: Yes.

InformationWeek: Are you concerned that cloud services may cannibalize premises software license revenue?

Steve Ballmer: No.

InformationWeek: Do you think that's a tradeoff?

Steve Ballmer: No. I'm excited that we may be able to offer more value to our customers by offering software plus services in the cloud than we ever could have done on-premises. So, I think if we offer more value, we'll have opportunities to make more money. So, I kind of think that's exciting, not something to be afraid of.

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