May 19, 2008
A man upset with the Hungarian government's decision to sign a software and training deal with Microsoft tried to pelt the company's chief executive with eggs during a presentation Monday at a Budapest university.
The man, wearing a shirt with the words "Microsoft Equals Corruption" scrawled on the back, tossed three eggs at Steve Ballmer, who nimbly ducked behind a lectern. The protester isn't likely to win a major league pitching contract: He missed Ballmer on all three attempts, despite standing less than 50 feet from the Microsoft chief. The protester, a bespectacled man who appeared to be in his mid- to late 20s, was immediately ushered from the lecture hall at Budapesti Corvinus Egyetem. A video of the incident circulating on the Internet shows that Ballmer was initially stunned, but quickly laughed off the attempted egging. "That broke my train of thought," he joked. Ballmer's address at the university on Monday began routinely enough. "I have to ask one key question before we start," he said to the students. "How many of you still have examinations?" Within seconds, however, the protester interrupted. Speaking in Hungarian, he accused Microsoft of stealing millions from the country's taxpayers. He then hurled the eggs. The incident was reminiscent of a 1998 ambush on Bill Gates, in which a Belgian prankster hit the Microsoft chairman with a cream pie. Ballmer was in Hungary on Monday to promote a program called Titan, under which Microsoft will train IT professionals in the country. The program also includes Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, and several other vendors. More than 10,000 Hungarian programmers and other IT professionals are expected to participate in Titan, which is slated to run through 2012. Hungary, along with a number of other Eastern European countries, is seeing significant growth in IT jobs outsourced from the Web.
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