Microsoft executive vice president Steve Ballmer told delegates at a Hewlett Packard conference last Tuesday that "guys like Ellison don?t know what people want to do with PCs". The attack on Oracle's chief executive Larry Ellison was part of a scathing attack on the network computer.
Speaking at the Internet event in San Jose, Ballmer admitted the pressure on Microsoft coming from the emergence of the NC keeps the company moving. "It?s fantastic that there?s a pretender to the PC throne," he said. "But don?t forget the PC market is still growing. We?re working with HP on the NetPC, another form factor for the PC to attack the market requirements of our customers rather than throw everything out and start again."
Executive guests of HP were entertained by Ballmer?s heartfelt tirade. "The NC has a little niche in business, but the notion that the NC has a niche in the home is ludicrous. It is hard to find a user who wants to do so little with hardware," Ballmer continued.
Duane Zitzner, vice president and general manager of HP?s personal information products group, admitted the NC versus PC debate introduces many issues but would not come down in favour of one or the other. "We want access to the NC and NetPC," he said.
One delegate was amazed by the debate. "I was astonished by Microsoft?s arrogance over the NC. Ballmer dismissed it completely, though admitted the threat keeps Microsoft on its toes," the attendee said. "But HP sat on the fence - they want to work on Web issues with Netscape, remain close to their biggest software partner [Oracle] and still keep their dominance in PC printers."
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