Barron's Online - Plugged In: Ballmer's Plan: "Push, Push, Push, Push, Push!" "But the cast of competitors seems to have changed. While some veteran attendees contend that the analyst briefing used to delve deeper into businesses throughout the tech world, providing fascinating tidbits about Intel, Sun Microsystems, Oracle, Apple Computer and IBM, last week's meeting focused more on Microsoft's current threats -- and partners -- such as Sony, Google and SAP.
Frankly, Sun is old news, a disarmed and wounded rival that is now an ally of sorts. Chief Executive Steven Ballmer calls them "our new friends at Sun" and says he "speaks to Scott [McNealy] frequently." Whereas AOL (now Time Warner) was everywhere at meetings in the not-so-distant past, the online rival was barely mentioned last week.
On the other hand, Google -- the new hotshot on the block -- was a bit of a preoccupation, getting mentioned several times. One of the more revealing product demonstrations involved new search technologies aimed directly at Google. This is a clear reflection of the new world order in tech, as the kinder, gentler and more mature Microsoft faces the dawn of its post-employee-stock-option era."