Back in 2007 I asked Steve Ballmer a question at an event for people in the web industry in London. He didn't seem to understand it (to be fair I felt so out of my depth asking him a question, I probably wasn't being very articulate) so he asked me to follow up with an email. This is what I sent:
From: Jonathan Markwell
To: Steve Ballmer
Sent: Tuesday, October 02, 2007 2:21 AM
Subject: Follow up to my question at the London Web Opportunity Conference
Thank you for answering my question yesterday about whether you had plans for Microsoft to port their developer tools to other operating systems.
I'm afraid to say I'm a developer that's switched to using Mac OS over the last 18 months. From the look of people's laps at all the web developer conferences I've been to recently it's a choice that many of my peers are also taking.
Your demonstration of Silverlight and associated technologies yesterday was really impressive, and I'm delighted to hear that you have the foresight to make them cross platform. However from my point of view no matter how great the end products that can be made are, they are not going to be enough to attract my business and my peers back to Windows.
I know that you have many partners that will not be going anywhere soon, but it feels to me that the early adopters and innovators that are doing some of the most interesting things on the web right now are not Microsoft Partners.
Despite my switch to Mac OS, over the last couple of years I have had some really good experiences working with your colleagues, particularly when working with 32 of them on the Enterprisers Programme, back in May. I've also been impressed to see Microsoft announcing some exciting products that demonstrate its ability to innovate such as Surface & Live.com. What's really blown me away the most though is your initiatives to support startups which you launched in the UK yesterday, I previously worked at American Express and I hope for their sake that large corporations like them follow your lead.
I strongly believe that if you want to win over the hearts and minds of people at the forefront of technical innovation, outside of Microsoft , you need to remove the Windows constraint and concentrate on your strengths - building great applications, developer tools and relationships.
I'd love to have the opportunity to develop with Microsoft tools (and at the very least, renew my Microsoft Partner Subscriptions) without booting Windows.
Is this really something that I will never be able to do?
Best wishes and thanks,
One week later this is how he responded:
From: Steve Ballmer
To: Jonathan Markwell
Date: Sunday, October 14, 2007 at 11:32 PM
Subject: RE: Follow up to my question at the London Web Opportunity Conference
Appreciate the input thx
I guess he either still didn't understand or didn't want to answer the question. Now we know the answer: "As long as I am CEO, no you will not be able to develop with Microsoft tools unless you boot Windows".
Do you think Microsoft's share price today would be different if my email had been better written?