"We basically increasingly only are working on things that are actually very important. The day and age of idle, smaller things is a little bit behind us. ... We're putting bigger and more energy behind fewer things than we have historically," Ballmer said Wednesday at a speech to the Rotary Club in Seattle.
He made the comment in response to an attendee question about what Microsoft is focused on.
While the comment was small, it does indicate a change in how Microsoft operates. The company has historically incubated lots of small projects whether or not they ever turned into billion-dollar products.
It also may reflect cost-cutting Microsoft did during the recession in 2009. In 2009, Microsoft had its first major layoffs that eliminated 5,800 jobs. While the company said it will invest a significant amount in pay raises this year to stay competitive, the company has not hired back to previous staff levels. Microsoft had 89,403 employees at the end of March, compared to 92,736 in June 2009.
In the rest of his speech, Ballmer responded to critics who say he should step down, talked why it does not make sense for him to bring an NBA team back to Seattle now and pre-announced 2011 earnings for Microsoft. Here is our full story on Ballmer's speech.
(Photo of Steve Ballmer speaking in New York on June 28, 2011: Getty Images)