What one question would you put to Steve Ballmer?

I promise this is not a joke.

Through some fine friends in the media, I've been invited to ask a question that will be put to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer in a special interview he's doing with a Canadian publication next week, on the eve of the Windows 7 launch.

I was exceptionally surprised and immensely flattered to be asked. Strangely, perhaps, my first instinct was not to try and come up with some dazzlingly intelligent and incomparably deep question on my own - instead, I immediately knew I wanted to crowdsource it.

I want you, my lovely blog readers, Twitter followers, RSS relatives, and Friendfeed roommates, to help me craft the ultimate question to life, the universe, and everything (from a Microsoftie Windows 7-centric POV, that is).

Think of it this way: you're the only person standing in the elevator at the foot of the CN Tower, about to take the short ride from the ground floor to the main deck at the top of the tower. Just as the doors are closing, Steve Ballmer steps in and intones a friendly "hello".

You have about 58 seconds alone with one of the most influential men on the planet and certainly one of the most powerful tech industry executives of all time. Time enough to ask him just one question.

What's it going to be?

Serious, searching, or flippant. How are you going to use your one question?

Give me your suggestions in the comments here, by email (to: michaelocc AT gmail.com), or on Twitter (@michaelocc).

Only one restriction: the topic is Windows 7, so let's try and stay on topic, please. I know you want to dig into Vista. I'm sure some of you might just want to say: "So Steve. Bing. Really, Steve? Bing? Really?"

But no. Let's stick to Windows 7, please. OK?

And no - before you ask - no one has asked me to do this. No fellow flack has put me up to this. The journalist asked me directly, and I decided to have a little fun with it.

I'll assess all the questions I get between now and Sunday night (October 18). Then in my entirely arbitrary and subjective wisdom I'll tweet my choices for the top three questions and ask you to vote.

The question that gets the most votes by 23:00 Monday, October 19, will be included in the interview and actually put to Mr. Ballmer himself. I'll then link to the interview results here once it's published.

How cool is that?

[UPDATE Monday, October 19: 16:30 - Not counting the utterly silly, but often genuinely amusing ones, I've got 29 questions in so far, from the comments, email and on Twitter. Thanks! Still time to squeeze a few more in, if you have any brainwaves. I've started sorting and ranking the ones I think make most sense, and will have a Twtpoll up later this evening to ask for votes on the top three. Stay tuned.]