While in Europe this week, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer offered up two tantalizing tidbits about some of the more controversial issues surrounding the company. He said that Microsoft could "wake up" if enough people complain about the June 2008 expiration of Windows XP sales and noted that he would walk away from his proposed merger with Yahoo! if the deal didn't make sense.

Regarding XP, Ballmer said that "most people who buy PCs today buy them with Vista" and not the seven-year-old XP. "That's the statistical truth," he added, noting that the vast majority of XP rollouts these days were corporations with aging PC hardware that can't accommodate Vista. But he did offer some hope, noting that if enough people complained, Microsoft could reverse its decision to stop offering XP via new PCs and retail packaging at the end of June. "If customer feedback varies, we can always wake up smarter. But right now we have a plan for end-of-life for new XP shipments."

Asked about Microsoft's hostile takeover attempt of Yahoo!, Ballmer said that he wouldn't raise his bid for the company past the $44.6 billion already on the table. "It's a very good price \[for Yahoo!\]," he said, adding for the first time that Microsoft was also planning for future in which the Yahoo! deal fell apart. "I hope that it works, but if it doesn't we go forward alone."

Microsoft's last public statement about the Yahoo! deal gave the Internet company until this Saturday to respond. Microsoft warned Yahoo! that it would otherwise attempt to replace Yahoo!'s board of directors with one more inclined to a merger. Ballmer offered no further information about this possibility.