Ballmer: Microsoft 'interested' in open-source browser

Microsoft has given its most ringing endorsement of open source Web browsers to date with chief executive officer Steve Ballmer not ruling out adopting such technology as an alternative to its own popular Internet Explorer, saying it is "interesting".

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"Making money is a good thing and with some of the competitive opportunities I don't think anyone is making any money," he said. "Some good work is being done with Facebook and the iPhone where it's easy for developers to distribute applications. It's easier to get exposure. Not much money is being made, but giving developers a way to get more visibility of their code is a good idea.

"Microsoft can do more here. We are not ready to talk about opportunities, but fear not! We are hard at work, particularly with Facebook."

Looks like Microsoft is working on a more streamlined way to bring more ISVs (emphasis on independent) into its technology stack before the are irreversibly lost to competing platforms. A well marketed application repository is the perfect way to achieve this.

New products

What gets Steve Ballmer excited when it comes to new products? Well, there's Steve Ballmer the user and Steve Ballmer the developer evangelist.

"From a user perspective I'm excited by Windows Mobile 7 and the next release of Windows Live at end of the year," he said.

As a developer, Ballmer sees a bright future for integration of SharePoint with the cloud-based SharePoint online. Also on the cards is porting the Microsoft Access database front end to SharePoint. "The productivity benefits for business applications and the tools we are building, with Microsoft Access as a front end, will make it a higher-level development environment," he said. "Writing applications with SharePoint will be pretty attractive for some people."

Human computing is the future

To finish his keynote, Ballmer began prognosticating about what computers will be like 10 years from now.

If someone asked me what's the best profession to recommend people get into - that's software development," he said. "So much more innovation will be created in the next 10 years. Ten years from now we will look back and say how primitive life was back then."

"We will talk to computers and they will respond. Everything we touch will be an electronic surface connected to the Internet. Everything will be automatically streamed. There is sure a lot of software left writing in this world."

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