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January 16, 2006

Microsoft: Gates and Ballmer brawl over consumer electronics

Watched by the great and good of the industry, Bill Gates took on Steve Ballmer in a virtual boxing ring via the company's new Xbox 360 console at the Consumer Electronics Show. Gates' 'knock-out' punch was not the evening's only blow delivered by the IT industry's most powerful man, however, as he demonstrated how Microsoft would be taking on the likes of Sony and Apple during 2006.

By CBR Staff Writer

Microsoft’s Bill Gates has unveiled the firm’s consumer business strategy during a keynote speech.

During his 90-minute presentation at the 2006 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) Gates covered every aspect of Microsoft’s consumer business strategy, from Windows Vista to the Xbox 360.

The CES is the world’s largest technology tradeshow and an event that IT managers should keep an eye on, as consumer technologies and services have been crossing over into the corporate world at an ever-increasing rate in recent years. Personal digital assistants (PDAs), smartphones and Internet telephony are just a few examples of ‘information technology osmosis’ – the movement of information technologies, products, and services from our lives as private individuals, to our roles as employees within an organization.

Companies such as Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft are key factors affecting IT’s ‘osmotic pressure’, as they fuel increased expectation in the end-user over what corporate IT can deliver. There was a time when the only IT system we ever used was in the office or the workplace, but now that has all changed. Many of us have home PCs more powerful than corporate servers; we take the trouble to learn how to do complex tasks such as CD and DVD ‘ripping’; and we share what we have with friends and family online in a dynamic and ad hoc fashion.

Now imagine a work environment where IT was this good, where IT’s purpose was so clear, where end-users were so confident, and where everything was so connected – surely this could become a reality given the right approach and corporate backing.

While some organizations have taken to using online gaming scenarios as team-building exercises and awarding staff music store e-vouchers at awards ceremonies, Gates and Ballmer’s display at the 2006 CES may be the first instance of boardroom battles being fought-out in a virtual boxing ring. But who knows what they may have started; one thing is for sure, 2006 will see IT osmosis continuing, and IT managers would do well to start doing their consumer electronics homework.

Source: OpinionWire by Butler Group (

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