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Ballmer Slams IBM And Novell

Microsoft chief executive officer Steve Ballmer on Tuesday slammed the Linux and SMB partner initiatives of IBM and Novell as dead ends for solution providers and ISVs.

At Microsoft's annual partner conference in Toronto, the rambunctious CEO told thousands of its global partners that commercial software, in combination with Microsoft's channel model and go-to-market plan, offers the best value proposition for service partners, solution providers and ISVs.

"Who do you go-to-market with [concerning] Linux?" Ballmer asked the capacity crowd. "Go-to-market with IBM? You'll be competing against IBM services. How does IBM sustain its investment in Linux when the only money they make is on services? They make no money on software; they make no money on hardware. They make money only in services."

Ballmer also ridiculed IBM's entry into the SMB market. He said IBM may ship a set of products packaged for small businesses but claimed the enterprise company can't scale down to the small-business or midmarket sector.

During his hour-long keynote session at Toronto's Air Canada Centre, the CEO fielded numerous questions about open source, Microsoft's negotiations with SAP, Microsoft Business Solutions (MBS), the next-generation Windows platform (code-named Longhorn) and CRM licensing plans. But Ballmer's rant against open source, Linux and competitors IBM and Novell elicited the most cheers and laughs from partners in the audience. Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft estimated that 5,500 partners attended the conference this year.

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