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Ballmer: Windows releases must come more quickly

CEO says that Microsoft won't wait five years, as it did between Windows XP and Windows Vista.

REDMOND, Wash.--Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer wrapped up a meeting with financial analysts Thursday by promising that the company would make sure it releases new Windows versions more quickly.

"We will never have a five-year gap between releases of flagship products," he said, referring to the gap between Windows XP's October 2001 release and the debut of Windows Vista, currently slated for January.

Microsoft has not said when Vista's successor, code-named Vienna, might ship or what features it will contain.

Despite the desire to make Windows releases more frequent, Ballmer said there will always be people trying to work on things that take years to make happen. "We just won't promise them to customers and hold up big releases," Ballmer said.

In his closing speech, Ballmer continued his theme from the morning that Microsoft is a company with many cores, including the traditional software cores and emerging ones.

"There really is a Sony that lives inside us, and there is an aspiring Yahoo or Google that lives inside of us," he said.

And he said the company remains tenacious: There is no major businesses that Microsoft has tried to get into that it has given up on.

"We've either succeeded, or we are still telling you we are going to succeed," Ballmer said.

He defended the company's investment plans, which call for it to spend $2.7 billion extra, largely on its new businesses.

"We don't want to spend a dime more than we have to," Ballmer said. "But we want to be expansive and innovative on the things we do."

He also briefly addressed one of Microsoft's hottest investment areas, its Zune music player and service, which is chasing Apple Computer's popular iPod and iTunes combination.

"I know we have a long haul," he said, but noted that Microsoft is one of the few companies with the technical know-how and financial resources to enter the market. "For better and for worse, there is no other company that would be attempting to get in this business."