Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer said on Monday that his company’s highly visible troubles with computer viruses and security flaws are proof that there is still a deep need for the kind of innovation that U.S. technology companies deliver. Try telling that to the hack-weary consumer, Steve.

Ballmer, speaking to several hundred participants at a Silicon Valley gathering, said the recent viruses that have vaulted Microsoft’s software vulnerabilities into the headlines reinforce the need to create secure software to ward off threats from “thieves, con artists, terrorists and hackers.”

He said that security was a matter that stretched beyond Microsoft to law enforcement, anti-virus software makers, partners, customers and start-ups focusing on creating innovative new technology.

Humbled by Microsoft’s vulnerabilities and its reaction to them by issuing security patches, Ballmer said he felt “terrible and awful” about the recent virus attacks that flooded computer systems worldwide. “Our responsibility does not end with providing patches,” he said. “Our goal is to block viruses before they get on PCs.”

Ballmer said it was dangerous to think that the current tech slowdown means that new technologies don’t matter and that companies now simply need to focus on cutting their information technology costs — what he called “innovation complacency.”

“What was once a transforming technology has reached the end of the road in innovation. I don’t think so. I think we are entering a wave of innovation that will compound everything that came before it.”

He zeroed in on the PC industry and how the U.S. market is growing more slowly than in the past. Ballmer said that growth increasingly will come from emerging territories and new types of PC gadgets.

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