Ballmer tells software industry to brace for hard times

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said that he is cautiously pessimistic that software makers (including

Microsoft) will face tough times from the U.S. economic crises. Technology spending had already begun to slump before the discouraging news began raining down from Wall Street in the last two weeks. Ballmer told Bloomberg that it would be "really imprudent" for software industry leaders not to brace for at least some impact.

But in typical Ballmer style, he noted that Microsoft will use such a slump to ``invest more in our future than the other guys we're competing with,'' according to the story. An obvious presumption would be that he plans to continue his acquisition spree. With hot IPOs out of the question, young up-and-coming companies should be more willing to negotiate for a buyout. These hints also come days after Microsoft announced it will be buying back $40 billion worth of its own shares, issuing its first commercial paper and selling as much as $6 billion in debt. Whether it's equity, debt or IT products you want, Microsoft wants you to invest in it. You will have the comfort of knowing that the company was the first in a decade to be granted Standard and Poor's tip-top rating, says Bloomberg.

For the enterprise, an industry wide slump is also a good thing, if a network exec can keep the purse holders from shrinking the IT budget. When times are tight -- particularly right before the year-end quarter -- vendors will deal. If you've been lusting after that amazing server or desktop upgrade but the price has been just out of reach, might be time to give your vendors a call and see what kind of terms they'll offer. Tell them Steve sent you.

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