Microsoft Talks Blu-ray, Yahoo

Steve Ballmer played host Thursday during a keynote discussion at the company’s MIX conference for Web developers.

“In online, yeah, it’s Google, Google, Google. I’d say we’re the underdog.” Ballmer told interviewer and former Apple employee Guy Kawasaki.

MIX is Microsoft’s showcase to unveil its latest Web technologies to developers.

In discussing the Yahoo deal, Ballmer gave some hints about how a future combined company may look. He hinted that either Yahoo Mail or Hotmail is likely to go away, stating “it doesn’t make sense to have two mail services.”

He also said that the acquisition of Yahoo, which is a heavy user of open source technologies, would make Microsoft a heavy PHP developer as well and suggested that Microsoft wouldn’t necessarily shift Yahoo’s OpenBSD servers to Windows Server.

“We’ve made an offer. It’s out there, baby,” Ballmer said when asked what the status is on the Yahoo acquisition for $31 a share.

Ballmer admitted that Microsoft’s choices around Windows Vista’s development had hurt application and device compatibility. “I’m not saying there aren’t things that customers don’t choose to comment on,” he said, while playing up Vista’s sales success. “We did make the choice to kind of hurt compatibility, and customers have let us know that was very painful.”

According to Ballmer, though Microsoft officially released the first beta version of Internet Explorer 8.0 this week, the browser isn’t fully complete.

“There’s a lot more about IE8 to really be told,” he said. He implied that renewed competition in a space where Firefox has “built presence and position” and pushed Microsoft to devote more resources to Internet Explorer than it ever has in the past. He also said that Microsoft wasn’t developing a new version of Internet Explorer for the Mac.

Ballmer also said that Microsoft will support the Sony Blu-ray DVD format in some manner.

“We’ve already been working on, for example, in Windows, device driver support for Blu-ray drives and the like, and I think the world moves on. Toshiba has moved on. We’ve moved on, and we’ll support Blu-ray in ways that make sense,” Ballmer said.

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