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Ballmer: Search Like 'Precocious' Tot

Microsoft Corp. CEO Steve Ballmer compared the company's search technology to a precocious toddler -- one who would eventually grow up to rival nemesis Google Inc.

During an animated discussion at the Web 2.0 Summit moderated by organizer John Battelle, Ballmer took a paternal tone, saying Microsoft's own Web search technology needed improvements.

"You're just 3 years old, and we've got you in there playing basketball with a 12-year-old," Ballmer gushed and gesticulated, nearly popping out of his seat. "You're growing up quick and getting better every day, and you've got all the potential in world, and it may take you 'til you're 7, 8, 9 or 10, but you're gonna dunk and you're gonna dunk on the other guy some day, Johnny."

Earlier this year at Stanford University -- where Google's founders met during graduate studies -- Ballmer characterized the search leader as a "one-trick pony" and described Mountain View-based Google's growth plans as "insane."

On Thursday, he said he meant the one-trick comment "in a very specific way."

"They started in one area, they get really good in that area and then fill out around core," he said between sips of his iced Starbucks drink.

"Microsoft is unique in that we've already got two areas. We started out as a desktop computing company and now we've got a huge enterprise business. We're trying to do devices and entertainment, and advertising and the Web. We're trying to be a three- or four-trick pony."

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