Steve Ballmer, the fiery former chief executive of Microsoft, has voiced support for the software giant’s recent move to cozy up to the Linux operating system. That’s a dramatic change from 15-years ago when Ballmer referred to the OS as “a cancer.”
Ballmer spoke Wednesday at a dinner hosted by Fortune magazine, on the heels of this week’s announcement by Microsoft that it would sell a Linux-compatible version of the SQL server database software.
During his talk, Ballmer said he “loved” the move but also noted that at one time Linux threatened Microsoft, according to a report by Reuters. He added that the competitive conflict was now “in the rearview mirror,” but made no apologies about waging war against the open-source operating system.
“The company made a ton of money by fighting that battle very well,” said Ballmer, who remains Microsoft’s largest individual shareholder. He added that defending Microsoft’s Windows operating system was “incredibly important to the company’s revenue stream.”
Ballmer’s new attitude towards Linux isn’t the only thing that’s changed with the former executive, who was famous for his intensity. In August 2014, he became owner of the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers. Since leaving Microsoft in 2013, Ballmer suggests that he might be a tad more passive now, at least when he’s not dunking as part of the Clippers halftime show.
“I certainly loved the intense life of [managing Microsoft],” Ballmer told Fortune’s Adam Lashinsky. “It was fantastic…it was great and that’s kind of where I was programmed. The truth of the matter is I had no clue about what happens when you [stop working].”
Ballmer surprised Lashinsky and the audience by revealing that he now meditates and practices yoga. It’s hard to imagine the typically frenetic Ballmer in a Lotus position.
“It’s a wonderful thing to do,” he said. “You get to stretch, do some yoga. You can pick how you want to spend your time…I feel no compulsion on most days to do anything other than be with my family or get to our basketball game.”
Getting to think about things beyond work is a luxury that Ballmer says he enjoys.
“The truth of the matter is, there’s no ship date on anything we’re doing,” he told Lashinsky. “There’s none of that pressure. As best as I can tell there’s no revenue associated with anything. There’s no quota. Expenses and revenue are in good check. There’s no risk of expenses exceeding revenues at the Ballmers.”
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