HackCollege Interview: Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft

Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft. Image courtesy of Flickr user JD Lasica. Licensed under CC 2.0 BY-NC.

FTC Disclosure: Microsoft paid for my trip to New York, my hotel, and my food. Blogging is awesome!

It’s a weird thing to sit down with $14.5 billion, but on Monday I did just that. As part of the Windows Phone 7 launch at the Microsoft Open House, I had the chance to sit down with Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, and ask him about the future of Microsoft’s relationship with students–especially in light of their release of Windows Phone 7–the future of technology, and what students should be doing to break into tech fields.

We started off the interview talking about Windows Phone 7, as the press conference about the new phones had happened just a few hours earlier. Ballmer was, unsurprisingly, adamant that he thinks Windows Phone 7 phones are the best choice for college students. He said that user experience with Android phones is patchy–it’s hard to know an Android phone is an Android phone when you pick it up–and iPhones only offer one model, ignoring that some people might want a QWERTY keyboard or different speakers. He’s of the opinion that giving students a “consistently delightful” (yes, that’s really the slogan) user experience over a variety of phones will draw them back from competing smartphone options. Whether that’s true or not remains to be seen, but for middle-of-the-road users (people who don’t want to root their Android phone and who want something more rugged than an iPhone), he may have steered Microsoft towards a winning strategy.

Read the rest on HackCollege.

And by “care package,” I mean “bomb.”

Beep, beep, beep... It's Hotmail! Image courtesy of Flickr user Cindy Seigle. Licensed under CC 2.0 BY-NC-SA.

Today Microsoft sent me a care package. It included: a pedometer, a thumb drive, a cork screw, bubble wrap, a book on origami, and an alarm clock. With the alarm going off.

You guys, Mail Services thought I had received a bomb.

Now, can you guess what product Microsoft was trying to advertise with this assortment of items? If you guessed the launch of the new Hotmail, you’re right. In addition, you must work for Microsoft’s marketing department, because there is no one else on Earth who could make that connection. It was a terrible package. For one,  the package was a giant waste of resources, shipping fuel, and manufacturing costs. The only part of it that I kept was the thumb drive–the envelope-shaped box, the corkscrew, the pedometer, the origami book, the alarm clock, and the bubble wrap all went to people sitting with me at lunch. Secondly, it was poorly-targeted. There is no demographic that likes all those things, and though they were all loosely tied to the launch (you can “hit the snooze button” because Hotmail is so fast, and the like), they were mostly confusing. I didn’t know what the box was for, and I had been sent an email about the launch three days ago with no mention of the box in it.

But the thing that set me off, aside from the general poor planning and execution of the campaign, was the god-damn alarm clock. Who in their right mind sends a beeping package through the mail? If nothing else, it was annoying the mail services employees, who are all lovely people and who are not paid to listen to Microsoft’s bad marketing go off all morning. But more than that, sending something that says “sketchy device! Maybe a bomb!” through the mail is a terrible idea. Continue reading