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Ballmer Calls Linux Threat Overblown

When it comes to Microsoft, IT pros still want to hear more about security, Linux and product futures. CEO Steve Ballmer did his best to accommodate them Wednesday morning in a keynote speech at the Gartner Symposium ITXpo in Orlando, Fla.

The Redmond, Wash.-based software vendor is sticking with its story that the integrated Windows stack is more secure and less pricey than Linux alternatives. Ballmer contends that Linux has yet to get a toehold on the desktop.

"There is no appreciable amount of Linux on the client anywhere in the world," Ballmer said in response to questions from Gartner analysts. "People can read the drama stories. ... They read about the city of Paris. It said it would adopt Linux. Well, the study came back, and there's no ROI case for Linux for the next seven to eight years."

Ballmer said similar stories of Linux adoption in Brazil and elsewhere around the globe also have been blown out of proportion. He pointed to the city of Munich, Germany, which drew lots of media attention by opting for Linux over Windows clients. "Now, Munich is Munich. We lost the city of Munich," Ballmer said, with a caveat. "You hear 65,000 stories, and there's still only one customer. And [Munich] ... what's a polite word for this? They're still diddling around, deciding on whether to do the migration."

Industry observers also cite China as a Linux stronghold, a contention that Ballmer blasted. "Our products have a higher market share in China. Most of it, of course, is not paid for. We didn't adopt a conscious pricing strategy in China to match Linux. It's just that people don't pay," he said.

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