About 3 months ago I found Microsoft’s CEO, Steve Ballmer, willing to do a small interview with me for a story which will be published in the fourth edition of a business magazine called “United”. United is being published in Holland and Suriname, and should be available in stores this week. Now that the story has been published, I can finally post the interview here.

Steve Ballmer is obviously a very busy guy, even Robert Scoble couldn’t easily get some of his time for an interview, so I consider myself very lucky for Steve to have taken the time to do this for me.

The questions I asked him were tailored to the article I was writing, and I wanted to keep it short and to the point so I wouldn’t use too much of his time. The article focuses mainly on Microsoft’s Partner Program, so all the questions are related to that.

First I wanted to know where Steve always gets all that energy, enthusiasm and personal dedication when he’s talking about working with and helping Microsoft’s partners. This is what he answered:

My enthusiasm comes from the fact that Microsoft at its core is a partner company. The two most important assets that Microsoft has are its R&D and its partner channel because partners make the R&D come alive for our customers.

Microsoft has an obligation to our partners to make sure we are doing everything we can to help them succeed. We’ve got to ensure that we’re being innovative with our product offerings, that we’re continuing to lead on total cost of ownership, and that our platform is the most reliable, secure, manageable and easy to use. And we’ve got to sustain more partners, doing more innovative work, providing better services at lower cost to our customers.

I also asked him about his level of satisfaction with the way things are going with the Microsoft Partner Program and where he thinks Microsoft can improve the program. He answered as follows:

We used partner feedback in creating the new partner program, and we’re receiving positive feedback from partners telling us they are seeing measurable business impact in terms of growing their business and getting more value from their relationship with Microsoft. We are very serious about maximizing partners’ opportunities to grow and realize their potential, so this year we invested another $200 million in the partner business, for a total of $1.7 billion to support partners at every stage of their business lifecycle including training and readiness, demand generation and selling, and services and support.

Microsoft’s partner program must accrue to real, undisputed value to every customer. In a segmented market, there is no limit to where a partner can find ways to add value. We want to enable partners with deep knowledge to meet a broad market opportunity.

Finally, I asked him what he thought were the biggest benefits for partners who are working with Microsoft and why he would recommend them to become a partner, to which he answered:

We’ve asked our partners to trust us, to work with us, to bet their business with us. If you’re a partner you need to ask if the investments that you’re making today are appropriate for tomorrow. As a partner, you are making investments in training your people, in developing your competencies, in writing new software if you’re an ISV. And I continue to hear from partners that the Partner Program delivers on the investment they are making with Microsoft.

One of the greatest benefits for partners is a higher return on their investment. The Partner Program provides tools and resources to help you plan, grow and develop your business more efficiently and effectively. It helps you build demand around Microsoft software launches and new marketing initiatives. These are the kinds of things I would encourage partners to consider they reflect our commitment to partnership and to providing the opportunity for our partners to be successful.

If you’re interested in knowing more about the Microsoft Partner Program you can check it out on Microsoft’s website. I also wrote about it a while back in an article titled “Why Microsoft is winning.”