REDMOND, WASH. -- Microsoft's ever-enthusiastic CEO and President Steve Ballmer is, well, enthusiastic about the future of software and IT.
Speaking to financial analysts and press here at the Microsoft Financial Analyst Meeting at the company's headquarters, Ballmer refuted recent reports from the likes of Harvard Business Review that claimed IT will be less important in the future than it has been in the past several years.
"Our fundamental response to that is: hogwash," he said. "We look out there like kids in a candy store saying what a great world we live in."
He was referring to the opportunity to help customers reach potential during the course of the next 10 years.
He said that despite critics' warnings, the real test will be whether the software industry is bigger in five years than it is now. To make that happen, he added, companies need to focus on bringing value to customers, rather than just on making profits.
"We have to build from a groundswell of enthusiasm, and that starts with the end-user," he said.
Microsoft, for its part, plans to continue investing in research and development. The company announced Thursday morning here that it plans to invest $6.8 billion in R&D.
"We will continue to boost R&D every year as long as we can," Ballmer said.
Ballmer also claimed that Microsoft's forthcoming Longhorn server and desktop operating systems will help to advance the industry.
"Longhorn is not just a next generation of Windows, it’s the next generation of a whole series of products," he said, adding that Longhorn will create "a fundamental big bang" that renews innovation across the industry.