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After laying off thousands yesterday, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer visited Stanford today in high spirits, telling students that his company is hiring and that he can’t think of a better time to start a business. “These are tough economic times, but these are times that are […]

Steve BallmerAfter laying off thousands yesterday, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer visited Stanford today in high spirits, telling students that his company is hiring and that he can’t think of a better time to start a business. “These are tough economic times, but these are times that are rich in opportunity,” was his message. “I don’t think the contraction is dramatic enough that we’re not going to see strong ideas come through.”

Well I guess the task at hand was an inspirational speech, so you can’t blame Ballmer for trying to deliver, but this wasn’t the kind that resulted in wet eyes and standing ovations. Not that he isn’t charismatic, it was just a little hollow in light of the economy.

In addition to general entrepreneurial optimism, Ballmer spoke of specific opportunities for “software-powered experiences.” He said Windows Azure, Microsoft’s cloud computing platform, is a core project because it’s the future of Microsoft’s Windows Server and SQL businesses. But even while Ballmer pumped up the cloud and clients, he wasn’t willing to sign over existing businesses. He defended the ongoing opportunity for smartphones and other smart clients “because this stuff is just so darn cheap.”

Ballmer also alluded to the opportunity to team up with Yahoo in search to address more customers and deliver better advertising. “Google’s a very big company in search,” Ballmer said. “We’re sort of like a startup. We can’t invest in everything the market leader can.”

  1. He just fired 3,000 employees and said that there are 2,000 more to go for the Company’s strategic goal of 2009. And here he telling them Microsoft is hiring?! What’s a rationale?! Maybe cutting those existing employees short to prevent pension cost?? And then the young graduates today will get wacked sometime in the future to clean up pension costs again!? I guess we are not worrying about this much be Microsoft still provide us with lots of good stuffs and… Windows 7 (I admit, I enjoy this OS as well). But I wonder how long would that go before the public goes against it.

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  2. Well he was speaking to an audience full of bright engineers and I think he was referring to summer internship positions. It’s still important to continue to get the best talent even in times when the economy is going down.

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  3. They are cutting people where they don’t need them – sales, marketing, admin, etc. They are ALWAYS looking for good software engineers. Their VP of HR said in a speach a month ago they were going to hire 1200-1500 software engineers in the next yer to 18 months.

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  4. [...] software companies by providing applications and support. The disclosure comes on the heels of a speech earlier this week from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer at Stanford University, in which he talked up startup opportunities despite the difficult [...]

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