"I think Windows 7 will be the biggest, one of the biggest products to hit the tech industry this year," Ballmer tells me.
"Just because Windows is used on about 1 billion computers around the planet. They'll be another 300 million machines that ship this year, and the diversity of PCs that ship with Windows 7, the simplicity that Windows 7 brings, I think it's a pretty banner year. I think the things that everybody's going to react to are: Wow, this is simpler; wow, this feels snappier, more responsive," he says.
On competing with Google: "I think you have Search, and things that are not Search. In the area of Search, it's clear Google has a dominant market share globally, very strong position, one of the strongest I've ever seen in the tech business, but we're hopeful through innovation, maybe we can make a bit of a dent in that."
"On the other hand, what about Google in these other markets? So far, Google really has no proven track record of success outside the area of Search. They're a well-financed company, and we'll see what happens. We certainly take them very seriously, but their real success record is with Search, where they are dominant, and now they're trying to elbow their way into adjacent markets, distributing their browser with their Search, YouTube and the like, and we'll see what happens."
On Microsoft's Search engine Bing: "Will there be innovation over the next several years in Search? I think the answer can be yes. Now there needs to be some competition, because I think we all would probably agree the user-interface and experience for Search hasn't changed much over the last four or five years. And our opportunities to push the pace, and we pushed it with Bing I, and then Bing II and Bing III and Bing IV. Bing, Bing, Bing, Bing, Bing! "
"We're going to keep pushing the pace of innovation, the user experience, and the business model, and we'll see where we get. We're going to give it a run, but there's no question Google's got a dominant position."