Ballmer: Microsoft must be ‘multicore’ to survive

Microsoft CEO says the company must be multicore, or be successful in multiple markets, to grow

Microsoft chief executive officer Steve Ballmer says his company must be able to operate successfully in multiple markets — a phenomenon he calls being “multicore” — for the company to continue to grow well into the future.

Although Microsoft is best known for its desktop OS and software business, it has also managed to carve out a successful business in server software, making it a two-core company, Ballmer said at Microsoft’s recent annual financial analyst meeting in Washington. This is something, he says, no other major technology company has ever done, although IBM comes close with its hardware and services business, he says.

But, as Microsoft moves ahead, the company is fighting a war on several fronts, and Ballmer hopes it will develop more core businesses with its entertainment and online services strategies.

To create a multicore company, Microsoft must continue to build out businesses in markets other companies have already created. It used that strategy with success to create the Xbox game console, and it is currently doing the same in other markets, such as web-based services, business intelligence and high-performance computing, Ballmer says.

“You have to confront the question:

is it okay to get into some area of endeavour when you’re not first?” he said at the conference. “It’s always best in our business to be first. We want to be first. But are you prepared to get in and innovate and try to get growth in areas where you’re not first in the market? As investors, you have to understand that we think that’s important.”

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