Campus & Community

Microsoft’s Ballmer pulls out the stops at HBS talk

2 min read

The 24th richest person in the world made a visit to the Harvard Business School (HBS) last week (Dec. 7), and gave an audience of 700 advice on how to succeed in business: Have passion, curiosity, and empathy.

Microsoft CEO Steven Anthony Ballmer ’77 (whose net worth is around $14 billion) also shared his vision of the high-tech industry’s future: It’s bright.

“The next 10 years will be hotter than the last 10 years,” he said – surpassing the past decade with its huge new global markets for PCs, cell phones, the Internet, and digital cameras. (Microsoft’s already grabbed its share. About 800 million PCs – 90 percent of the world’s computers – use Microsoft Windows.)

The hot years start now, said Ballmer, enumerating what Microsoft rolled out in the past month: Windows Vista (the company’s first new operating system in five years), Microsoft Office 2007, and Zune, the Microsoft brand of portable media players.

Looking further out, Ballmer predicted technological revolutions in storage, telecommunications power, connectivity, and desktop and group productivity.

“We’re working on the future of meetings,” Ballmer said, “one of the forms of human interaction that have been least affected by technology.” In the future, he said, events like the one in HBS’s Burden Auditorium could include wireless video-streaming in real time. Listeners will not only capture and store what is going on, but make their own notations in real time, and instant-message with other participants.