A man with a very big personality, my four main breakfast takeaways from Ballmer were:
1. We are in the midst of a fundamental technological revolution resulting from the integration of PC, phone and TV technology. Ballmer showed a video of the new Xbox Kinect, which will launch pre-Christmas, where the screen can be controlled by voice and body movement. Amazing stuff. While it’s not in the workplace yet, the technology behind it is bound to be hitting offices soon.
2. The shift we are seeing is cultural as well as technological. Ballmer said his teenage son has no notion of privacy and sees his personal information as something he can trade online. Let’s not forget that the teenagers of today will be in the workplace before we can blink – and they will demand the immediacy you get from instant messaging (forget email!). It’s a case of change or be changed.
3. The “cloud” means different things to different people – but the opportunity for mobility, collaboration and accessibility is huge. If you thought the pace of business was quick, cloud computing will speed it up even more.
4. The UK will be the launch country for Windows Phone 7. Ballmer described Britain as an “innovation leader” with the ability to design and set trends totally disproportionate to our population size. Note to the government: to promote economic competence and growth, this country must build on its design and technology capabilities.