Kara Swisher

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Live From Redmond: Microsoft's He-Man Ballmer Says to Stop Kicking Sand at Yahoo! (Also, He's Counting Apples!)

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BoomTown is here at Microsoft HQ in Redmond, Wash., where a panoply of top execs from the company is giving a full day of presentations to a roomful of Wall Street analysts and media folks at its annual Financial Analyst Meeting.

First up, as you might imagine, is CEO Steve Ballmer, who is as bouncy and braggy as I have ever seen him, probably because he is fresh from getting his mitts on a long-sought-after prize–the search business of Yahoo (YHOO).

But, while the media and investors think Microsoft (MSFT) made out well in the online search and advertising deal, the opinion about Yahoo’s side of the deal has been not so positive.

Actually, tragic, with Yahoo shares down another five percent today already, after plummeting 12 percent yesterday. Look out below!

Thus, Ballmer to the rescue!

“This is the one that stuns me, that people haven’t figured it out,” said Ballmer, pointing out that Yahoo cut costs and gets to keep revenue. “It’s sort of, like, unbelievable.”

Believe it, Steve, especially since everyone thinks Microsoft pulled a fast one on Yahoo.

Otherwise, Ballmer gave a relatively upbeat speech about the software giant, even after a tough year for Microsoft, due to the weak economy and the fall-off of sales of personal computers.

Ballmer had computers on the brain, especially those of competitors, like Apple (AAPL), which was popular with the audience.

“We have low share, by the way, in the investor audience. I can see the Apple logos versus the PC logos,” he joked. “Our share is lower in this audience than the average audience. Don’t hide it. I’ve already counted them. I have been doing that since we started talking.”

I wonder if Big Brother, oops, Ballmer, also took note of my iPhone and browser open to Google (GOOG) search.

As is part of the reliable Ballmer act, along with Apple-bashing, there was Google-bashing, Linux-bashing and general Anybody-But-Microsoft-Bashing.

But, bullies, be warned! There will be no more Yahoo-bashing from you or Microsoft–well, on the record, at least!–or you’ll apparently have to answer to He-Man Ballmer.


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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus