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This week in Microsoft news

Steve Ballmer wants technology managers to know that Microsoft feels their pain.

Steve Ballmer wants technology managers to know that Microsoft feels their pain.

That was the Microsoft CEO's message at the company's TechEd customer conference in Orlando, Fla. In his pitch--part call to action, part career affirmation for IT workers--Ballmer said IT enthusiasm is in a "growth phase."

"There has never been a more interesting time to be in the information technology industry than right now," Ballmer said, in an attempt to assure attendees that they made the right career move. "I guarantee that the impact of the IT industry will be (greater) in the next 10 years than over the last 10."

Ballmer's message highlighted productivity and potential over product features. He touted the company's latest tools for making developers and administrators more effective.

He also announced that new services for automatically updating patches for several Microsoft products will be available in July. The two services, called Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) and Microsoft Update, will use a single "update catalog" to provide regular updates for both consumer and business customers.

WSUS was originally slated for release in the first half of last year. Microsoft Update, which replaces Windows Update, was also supposed to launch at that time. Microsoft has blamed the delays in part on work it had to do on Windows XP Service Pack 2, a mammoth security-focused update for Windows XP that was released last August.

For more than 20 years, Ballmer has been Microsoft's chief salesman, promoting his company's products with a mixture of over-the-top enthusiasm, street-fighter brashness and market savvy. He hasn't mellowed.

During the course of a 30-minute sit-down at TechEd with editors from CNET News.com, Ballmer was his vintage self, variously pounding on the table or bellowing answers to drive home sundry points with, ahem, extra emphasis.