When Microsoft's recently appointed chief financial officer Chris Liddell told Wall St his job’s biggest challenge is learning a whole new language, he wasn't kidding.
According to Liddell, former CFO for International Paper Co, Microsoft has 230 official acronyms that he suggested analysts should take the time to learn and use in every-day conversations and presentations.
No doubt all the better to understand what exactly it is Microsoft is talking about.
Timely advice, as it turned out, for those watching Microsoft's annual financial analysts summit where Liddell was speaking and where Microsoft broke ground in hyperbole to "evangelise" new products, services and strategies.
Seasoned Microsoft watchers, and users, will be well aware of Microsoft's penchant for re-defining the English language. From the Encarta encyclopaedia to spell checkers in Word, Microsoft has taken the concept of "American English" to a whole new level.
Now, Microsoft has developed a need to slap "super" in front of all manor of verbs, nouns, trans verbs and adjectives to sell the vision.
Accordingly, executives at last week's conference were not just "excited", they were "super excited" about a range of products including Computer Cluster Edition, Visual Studio 2005 and Expressions Studio, various Community Technology Previews (CTPs) of planned products, and the Windows Vista first beta.
All of these products, of course, were not just "important" but "super important", "super cool" and would "super charge" the market. And don't worry about that PC industry, folks, 'cos unit shipments are growing "super nicely".
A quick analysis of data points from last week’s conference revealed the following market leaders for “super”, based on numbers of times used: super excited: 6. super important: 2. super nicely: 1. super charging: 1. super user: 1. super rate: 1. super cool: 1. super launch: 1.
Breaking that out by executive: server and tools generalissimo Eric Rudder came top, with a score of 10 and an apparent softspot for "super excited" (used five times). Will Poole, Windows client vice president, was second, while chief executive Steve Ballmer, in a surprisingly lackluster performance, came third, playing "super nicely."
As ever with the IT industry you have your early adopters and your mass-market users, and so it goes with Microsoft's lingua franca. With senior management buying into "super", it is falling to Ballmer - who promised analysts at last year's summit Microsoft would either be first to market or it would be "super cool" - to raise the “super” stakes.
Describing the importance of indexed search and retrieval in Windows at last month's partner conference in Minnesota, Ballmer went one further, by describing the capability as not just "super" important or even "super, super" important, but, he ruminated: "Super, super important, super important." Watch out for next year's analysts’ summit.
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