Sales of other computing devices will boom in the next several years as more people get connected to the Internet through handheld devices or Internet-connected televisions, said Ballmer, speaking at a PaineWebber Growth & Technology conference here.
Households could have four personal computers each within five years, as well as Web-connected televisions, Internet-telephones, and handheld computers, he predicted. A personal computer will control the entire network, he said. "There's a broader course our company will take. It's the PC plus the Internet," Ballmer said. "The PC will keep a central role. It's so flexible it can be anything."
Ballmer has been busy lately preaching various Microsoft messages. He's racking up the frequent flyer miles with recent speeches in San Francisco, for the launch of the Office 2000 software, and Atlanta, talking up telecommunications at the Supercomm show, before his appearance in New York today.
Ballmer said that he's no more or less cautious about the outlook for Microsoft, the world's biggest software maker, than he was a month ago. "As long as we don't have a market share problem. That's what I think about every day," he said.
In April, Microsoft warned that some companies may delay software purchases for the rest of the year because of concern about the Year 2000 bug. Older computer programs sometimes read only the last two digits of the year, mistaking 2000 for 1900, which could cause computer or network malfunctions.
Microsoft rose 1 13/16 to 81 3/16 in midmorning trading. It's the second-most active stock in U.S. trading.
News.com's Tom Dunlap contributed to this report.
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