Ballmer to employees: Focus on NGWS

In a company-wide memo sent out earlier this week, Microsoft president and CEO Steve Ballmer urged his employees to continue working furiously on the company's Next Generation Windows Services (NGWS) initiative and ignore the antitrust case as it take its course through the appeals process. Ballmer, who noted that the appeal could take years to complete, told Microsoft employees that the company would ultimately win its battle with the federal government and 19 states. But most important, he said, was that the company meet its internal product deadlines so that it can release NGWS on schedule. The company has already slipped with at least one major release, Windows Millennium Edition (Windows Me), which should have gone gold earlier this week. But Windows Me is waiting on the release of Windows Media Player 7, a massive update to Microsoft's streaming media client that was introduced into the Windows Me build process fairly late in the OS' product development cycle.

"I simply do not believe that a breakup will ever occur," Ballmer wrote in the memo. "The order to dismantle this company simply isn't justified by the court's findings of facts and conclusions of law, even if they were to be upheld by the appellate courts. I understand \[that the final\] ruling isn't pleasant. No one wants to operate under a cloud. We cannot lose sight of the importance of our work--with respect to both products now under development and to our next generation of software and services."

NGWS is a sweeping set of technologies, products, and services that will allow Microsoft Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), once relegated to living on local machines and, sometimes, running across local networks, to run over the global Internet. The company seeks to extend its reach with NGWS from the desktop to the Internet using, in essence, a Microsoft shell over the Internet that will make the online experience for consumers and business users simpler and more pervasive. NGWS continues the work that was begun in Windows 95 of making the Internet less of a "context switch" for users who previously had to differentiate between local computer use and distributed, Internet-based computing. Of course, the company's grand plans for NGWS will be thrown in disarray if Microsoft is ultimately broken up by the Supreme Court. NGWS technology is not cleanly divided between the OS and Internet groups at Microsoft, and a split could severely counter, if not kill outright, the initiative.

"People simply can't believe that a company which has created so many great products for consumers and done so much good for the U.S. and global economy is being threatened with burdensome regulations, let alone a court-ordered breakup," Ballmer's memo concludes

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