But even as Ballmer defended Vista's first two years in the market, claiming that it has 180 million users, he seemed to understand that companies might decide to skip the OS and move straight from Windows XP to Windows 7. "If people want to wait, they certainly can," he said, answering MacDonald's question about why users simply shouldn't wait for the new-and-improved Vista, aka Windows 7.
"Look, no Windows release has to have people want to use it right away," Ballmer continued. "At least in this audience, everybody's going to test it. But the fact of the matter is, no one really ever waits." Instead, he argued, most companies constantly refresh a portion of their computer inventory each year, bringing in the newest operating system with that turnover.
Windows 7, which Microsoft has said would be out in the latter part of 2009 or early 2010, will debut as an alpha in less than two weeks, when the company hands it to attendees at its Professional Developers Conference (PDC), which opens Oct. 27 in Los Angeles.
It will be the first in what apparently will be a long line of operating systems built on the Vista code base. Today, Ballmer rejected the idea that Microsoft would need to do a "reset" of the client code in the near future. "We can do a lot of innovation for a lot of years on the same code base," he said before acknowledging that how the OS takes advantage of multi-core processors is still an open question.
"We have a lot of enhancements we can do [to the code base]," he said.
Computerworld is an InfoWorld affiliate.