Gates, Ballmer optimistic about tech recovery

Addressing top leaders at annual CEO summit, Microsoft chairman and CEO sound positive note about the future. "The software, IT revolution--we're just at the start of that," says Gates.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates and Chief Executive Steve Ballmer are optimistic about the power of tech to recover from the current recession and bring business along with it, according to speeches they made at Microsoft's 13th annual CEO Summit earlier this week.

Although the event was private, Microsoft released four clips of the keynote speeches made Tuesday by Gates and Ballmer, which strike a positive tone about the future.

Bill Gates
Bill Gates Microsoft

In his keynote speech at the summit, Gates said that overall he was very optimistic about the economy with the opportunities for innovation stronger today than ever. "The drug companies will get back in high productivity mode," he said. "The software, IT revolution--we're just at the start of that. What we can do for education, communication, and what that looks like for the efficiencies of world markets, we are just at the beginning of that."

In his speech, CEO Ballmer also hit an upbeat note, saying "As we think about the future of information, and how it embraces the PC, the phone, the TV...I have nothing but optimism about where things are going."

Steve Ballmer
Steve Ballmer Microsoft

Ballmer expressed faith in the power of the Internet to drive business, saying, "Some people probably think the Internet revolution is in the second half of the game. But I tell you, we are coming into halftime. The degree of change that'll continue to come as essentially businesses and IT departments embrace the Internet, it's unbelievable."

Ballmer also believes a continued focus on research spending is vital, adding, "The innovation's going to proceed as rapidly. And people say, no, it can't be. Capital's going to be taken away. I don't know anyone in our industry who's cutting their R&D budget."

The 2009 CEO Summit was attended by more than 100 top business leaders, including News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch, Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos, and Berkshire Hathaway's Warren Buffett. This year's summit offered discussion topics related to the stormy economy, including "Managing Through the Recession" and "Speed, Scale and Smarts: Strategies for Multinationals in Turbulent Times."

Like most tech firms, Microsoft has been buffeted by the global recession. Last month, it reported a drop in sales and earnings for its fiscal third quarter. To cut costs, the company has already laid off employees as part of its move to trim 5,000 jobs worldwide. Microsoft is hoping for a brighter future with an arsenal of new products hitting the market over the next year, including Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, Office 2010, and Microsoft Exchange 2010.