The Washington Times - June 4, 2008, 03:58PM

If there is a prize for being a “digital raconteur,” Steve Ballmer, CEO (and soon chairman) of Microsoft Corp. is a leading contender, if not the overall winner. No superdelegates needed, in this observer’s opinion.

Mr. Ballmer’s talents were on abundant display Tuesday night at the annual Technology for Government dinner sponsored by the American Electronics Association. More than 700 people filed into a ballroom at the Grand Hyatt Hotel for the event, Mr. Ballmer’s address and a brief Q-and-A.

No great announcement was made at the event, but Mr. Ballmer pointed his hearers towards a digital future that “will be enabled by hardware and powered by software,” where, in the next five to 10 years, a display screen will be paper-thin and where print advertising will segue to targeted online ads, making the $550 billion advertising business either a larger or smaller web-based one, depending on who buys which digits. Today’s advertising world, he averred, “will be turned on its head in the future.”


Much of this has been said by Mr. Ballmer at other times and in other places, but it was interesting nonetheless. Steve Ballmer is a great storyteller: he had his audience enthralled when describing his wireless Internet access in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso. He could even get a laugh when mentioning Johannes Gutenberg.

There was one tiny bit of news — for this writer, at least — Mr. Ballmer said that while his longtime associate, and current Microsoft chairman, Bill Gates is retiring from day-to-day operations of the firm, the co-founder isn’t leaving tech entirely. “Bill’s taking a course in battery technology online from MIT,” Mr. Ballmer said. “Anyone can sign up.”

— Mark Kellner, The Washington Times