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Ballmer pledges PHP love in Microhoo future

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Mix 08 Microsoft has committed to becoming a mixed ASP.NET and PHP shop for the "foreseeable" future should its proposed Yahoo! acquisition succeed, rather than convert popular services like Yahoo! mail to Microsoft's .NET architecture.

Chief executive Steve Ballmer confirmed, though, that overlapping online properties would be axed. Ballmer did not say what Microsoft ASP.NET or Yahoo! services based on the open source PHP Microsoft would keep, kill or merge, but he highlighted overlap in search, ad serving and mail.

Ballmer said Microhoo shouldn't have two of everything.

Asked by Reg Dev's Tim Anderson during an open mic session what would happen to Yahoo!'s PHP-based applications, especially in areas of overlap, Ballmer said: "When all's said and done, a bunch of those PHP applications will be running at high scale and in production for a long time to come."

Ballmer earlier committed to using Yahoo! as a means of becoming the internet's top search and ads service, leap frogging Google.

"In a sense, it's a zero sum game [against Google]. I want a larger percentage of search done with our stuff," Ballmer said during a scripted Q&A.

"Advertising on the internet is a big thing today and will be the next super-big thing. Search is the killer application of advertising today and for the foreseeable future.

"Despite the fact we are not where we'd like to be and probably could have got going a little sooner on search and search-related advertising, we are very committed."

On the death of HD-DVD

In a further concession to working with technologies not originated, or championed, by Redmond, Ballmer said Microsoft would support the Blu-Ray movie and music disc format "in ways that make sense." The rival HD DVD format, championed by Microsoft - at an industry level and in the Xbox 360's DVD player - and by Toshiba, has been left for dead following a string of high-profile defections by media and technology companies. "The world moves on, Toshiba moved on and we moved on," Ballmer said.

Ballmer, meanwhile, used Mix 08 to atone for his company's past mistakes in Internet Explorer's development by saying Microsoft is investing heavily in the browser to win back lost ground against open source rivals.

Ballmer promised innovation in IE is core to Microsoft, and the company has a lot more than just developer features to unveil, targeting end users.

"We feel browser innovation is important to us and core to that is how well we do against Firefox and Safari," Ballmer said. He ruled out re-starting IE on the Mac, though, saying Microsoft would apply its innovation energy to things other than bringing yet another browser to Apple's platform.

Microsoft, of course, has suffered declining market share, having called time on separate IE development years back and rolling the browser into Windows Vista, then codenamed Longhorn. Delays to Windows Vista, though, caused a "painful" gap between versions of IE, Ballmer said.

Admitting to mistakes and lessons learned, Ballmer said it was important to incubate new ideas separately before implementing them and integrating Windows and IE.

"Firefox has built presence and position in the last couple of years,' Ballmer admitted. "You see us investing heavily in the browser now. There's a lot more of the IE story to be told in the end-user features. Expect to see a lot of browser innovation."®

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