Ballmer says offline media is dead, keeps mum on Microsoft's offline software

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer says that offline media is going to die, but he offers no suggestions as to how Microsoft will avoid the same fate.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer had some provocative prophecies to share with the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival in France, declaring that within 10 years all content will be online.

There won't be newspapers, magazines and TV programs. There won't be personal, social communications offline and separate.

But will there be Windows?

After all, the trend Ballmer spots in the media world is almost exactly the same thing that is roiling the software markets as software shifts to subscription-based cloud computing, a weak area for Microsoft but a strong one for Google .

Yes, Microsoft has Azure, an attempt to blend cloud services with on-premise software. But its cloud story remains a bit complex and the company doesn't seem overjoyed to be telling it.

After all, it has billions of dollars of revenue tied up in the old world of on-premise software installations. Who can blame it for dragging its feet on the way to the cloud?

Ballmer correctly noted at the conference that media companies have yet to figure out how to make money online. I guess it takes one to know one.

However painful it might be, Microsoft, like the print media that Ballmer eulogizes, must change. Microsoft must get online, and much faster than is comfortable. Otherwise it stands to lose to Google which has no built-in dependency on on-premise deployments.

Follow me on Twitter @mjasay.

Tech Culture
About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.


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