The issue of its [Microsoft's] competitive tactics is a hot one because only a week ago Ballmer was the subject of some embarrassing publicity that speaks of the depth of rivalry between Microsoft and Google, the internet search engine giant.
According to a sworn statement, Ballmer picked up a chair and threw it across the room when a former Microsoft engineer met him in November to discuss his intention to defect to Google.
Small wonder there were a few giggles in conference when Ballmer welcoming the competitive environment created by the open-source movement which gave birth to Linux, the free alternative operating system that nibbles at the edge of Microsoft's empires. So did he really throw a chair? He's clearly powerful enough. Ballmer insists: "I've never thrown a chair in my life."
So what about the colourful language? The engineer's affidavit alleges that Ballmer shouted: "F***ing Eric Schmidt [Google's chief executive] is a f***ing p****. I'm going to f***ing bury that guy. I have done it before, I will do it again. I'm going to f****ing kill Google."
Suddenly the body language is that of a chastened schoolboy. In the morning session, Ballmer was making points about Microsoft's persistence and tenacity at maximum decibels ("If we didn't get it right we'd keep working it and working it and working it") while punching the air.
That animation has gone now: "Did I want to keep that fellow at the company? Yes. Did I say I wanted to compete with Google? I don't know what words . . . Did he write down the exact words? I don't know. By and large I made a commitment nine years ago that I was not going to curse. I know I've had one or two transgressions in nine years, but I made that commitment to myself. Is that one of them? I don't recall."