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CRN Interview: Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer spoke about the Vista challenge, how Microsoft has fared against Linux, how partners will play in the emerging software-as-a-service arena and how Microsoft can become what he calls the software industry's first "N-trick pony" in an interview with CRN Industry Editor Barbara Darrow and Senior Writer Paula Rooney.

CRN: First of all, there was news today about Adobe and Microsoft, and a story that Microsoft is dropping some PDF support from Office 2007 on Adobe's insistence. Can you comment?

BALLMER: I think we're talking about it pretty publicly… The only thing I'd say is that PDF is a published open spec, and the second most-requested feature we got for Office is 'save to PDF'.

CRN: There's a software-as-a-service push now that Microsoft started talking about publicly last year. What is your take on where bread-and-butter Microsoft Gold partners will fit into that over time? There's always a fear of disintermediation.

BALLMER: Let's not start with the partners first. Let's start with the customers and then back into the partners. Let's talk about big enterprises, not worrying precisely how we define them. Then medium-sized customers, I'd say someone with at least three or four IT people. Then small businesses with an IT person and small businesses without an IT person.

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