updated 07:50 am EDT, Fri September 11, 2009
Ballmer mocks using iPhone at Windows meet
Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer later on Thursday lightly teased an iPhone owner at a company meeting. According to witnesses that include Twitter anecdotes and a TechFlash reporter, the executive spotted a Windows team member using the Apple device to snap a photo and joked about his using the device before gently putting the phone on the ground and pretending to stomp it before moving on. He later made a similarly joking reference to the event during the presentation.
Events of the sort aren't entirely uncommon at Microsoft, which is known to at times push workers, though not force them, to avoid using Apple products when possible. This includes obvious steps like discouraging Windows Mobile team members from using iPhones but has also included unusual gags such as an iPod amnesty bin for those not using a Zune. Ballmer himself has said he prevents his family from using Apple products at home.
Apple products aren't necessarily restricted at Microsoft outside of the Mac Business Unit. The company's well-known director of programming for Xbox Live, Larry Hryb ("Major Nelson"), regularly uses and talks about his MacBook Pro. Nonetheless, journalist Todd Bishop has ribbed Ballmer for the event and suggested that it's Microsoft's own sluggish Windows Mobile development that led to one of his workers using an iPhone.
"Ballmer might do better in the future by making sure that the employee has good reason to pick a Windows-branded phone over competing devices," Bishop said.