Speaking at the Software 2007 conference yesterday, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer hinted that if wouldn't be entirely out of the question for the company to spend billions on a major acquisition. This follows speculation last week that Microsoft was prepared to pay around $50-billion for Yahoo, a rumour since dismissed by both parties.

Asked after his keynote if Microsoft would spend between $40-billion and $50-billion to acquire a large company, Ballmer reacted with a curt "no comment", saying that people should expect the company's growth to come from small companies. But he then added that Microsoft is open to larger acquisitions "when strategic winds blow right."
Changing the subject, Ballmer said that users can expect some exciting developments from Microsoft in the coming year, singling out its work on .NET with Silverlight and Silverlight extended, its answer to Adobe Flash and other browser-hosted applications.
"I guarantee incredible stuff is coming this year," Ballmer says, although he didn't make any mention of Vista Service Pack 1.