I don't know about you, but being a developer who has made a whole bunch of money by focusing on Microsoft development platform / technology, I have more than a casual interest in what is going on at Microsoft.
I have a number of friends and acquaintances who work there, but I am not the kind of person who likes to bother people or ask prying questions.
However, I've noticed a major sea-change at MS in the last couple of years, and I suspect that Ballmer is primarily responsible for it. This is the focus on "Customer -centric" -- and more specifically, "Developer-centric" information. I feel much more comfortable working with internal MS people; I've had intros through my MVP lead, Rafael Munoz, to some higher-ups that have been exceptionally forthcoming with information and help when I needed it, and I've tried not to abuse the privilege.
The MS blogging phenomenon has contributed to this "binding" with the developer community. The Product Feedback Center site is another example of this paradigm shift. There are other examples.
Recently I read a post on Jay Bazuzi's MS blog about their ZBB (zero bug bounce) effort, which I recently alluded to from Scott Guthrie's blog focus - this is a revealing look at a concept which really underscores how teams can work toward a goal.
Their team goals are clearly focused, measurable, and sensible. There is real leadership. They have a timeline, they have clearly demarcated priorities, and most importantly - it's obvious that they work together and help each other. A lot can be learned by carefully reading the new quality of outbound information sharing coming out of Microsoft.
Michael Jordan got it in just nine words:
"Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships."