San Francisco – Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer tried to allay partner fears of conflict between the software giant and HP during his keynote at this year's HP Preferred Partner Conference. 

Striding on to the catwalk-like stage, Ballmer was quick to point out that not only did Microsoft and HP share a number of the partners present, he also pointed out that Microsoft was "built on partnerships."
"I want to talk to you as mutual partners," Ballmer says. "When I looked at the list (of delegates) I noticed that there is almost a 90% overlap. And I'd like to say 'thank-you' to our partners."
Ballmer, who celebrates 28 years at Microsoft this year, says that partnerships have always been important to the company.
"We took a decision many years ago that, despite the breadth of what we do, we still have to have expertise – and that would spring from software development by Microsoft in partnership with others," Ballmer says. "One hundred percent of our business is from work with our partners – that's important to us and it's not going to change.
"From a Microsoft perspective, our strategy is built on collaboration with partners and we're thankful for that."
Reacting to a question during HP CEO and president, Mark Hurd's Q&A with delegates, Ballmer responded: "The first question Mark Hurd got was: What about this conflict? There will be. Occassionally, there will be a bit of overlap, but that's to be expected with companies as large as HP and Microsoft. But there is still so much opportunity, more than perhaps with any other company, due to the breadth of things that HP and Microsoft can do together."
Ballmer says that, contrary to what some believe, the combined experience of both companies in the enterprise and consumer markets could reap masive benefits for their channel partners.
"The fact that Microsoft and HP have a relationship that spans these two environments is important for both companies," he says. "But it's also important in terms of what we can do inside our partners."