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Steve Ballmer's Head On the Block?

Roblimo posted more than 3 years ago | from the if-I-go-there-will-be-trouble dept.

Microsoft 410

mix77 writes "Influential hedge fund manager David Einhorn has called for Microsoft Corp Chief Executive Steve Ballmer to step down, saying the world's largest software company's long-time leader is stuck in the past."

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Finally... (2)

Bai jie (653604) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262084)

we're talking about that damn elephant in the room.

Re:Finally... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36262114)

Geez, the guy ain't THAT out of shape.

Re:Finally... (2)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262180)

Maybe not physically - but his personality is in the elephant category.

Re:Finally... (2)

The Grim Reefer2 (1195989) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262214)

Maybe not physically - but his personality is in the elephant category.

Please stop insulting elephants.

Re:Finally... (3, Insightful)

whereiswaldo (459052) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262496)

From what little I've seen and heard, his biggest problem is his temper. I can imagine the crappy ideas he's railroaded through by yelling at people, instead of getting them through on merit.

Re:Finally... (2)

DWMorse (1816016) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262776)

That puts him more on the Rhinoceros category then, right?

Re:Finally... (2)

SimonTheSoundMan (1012395) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262158)

Time to do an Apple and bring back Gates?

Re:Finally... (2)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262188)

He wasn't much better.

Re:Finally... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36262252)

Although I do find it kind of weird that there isn't more of an attempt to associate Microsoft with Gates. Gates has practically turned himself into a renaissance man with his incredible philanthropy efforts, while Microsoft is still seen as Greed HQ. Although, maybe Gates enjoys that split.

Re:Finally... (2)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262476)

FWIW, I still think he's a douche. It seems that Microsoft has actually improved since he left, and if you were in the top 10 richest people in the world, it wouldn't take much to do "incredible philanthropy efforts" while still having more money left over for yourself than you know what to do with.

Re:Finally... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262518)

I don't think that such an association would be helpful: Philanthropists score higher(outside of hardcore randroid demographics) than do grasping plutocrats with gigantic yachts or whatever; but both are symbols of a company's success in extracting money from its customers...

If you are a customer, having your money extracted and then used to fight malaria is, arguably, nicer than having it extracted and used to build a 15th mansion; but philanthropy and plutocratic excess are, equally, signals of money that isn't being invested in R&D or being left in customers' hands with lower prices, or employee's hands with higher wages.

Re:Finally... (2, Insightful)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262828)

but philanthropy and plutocratic excess are, equally, signals of money that isn't being invested in R&D or being left in customers' hands with lower prices...

Although I have no particular fondness for Bill Gates, it's fair to say that his money is his own, and he is entitled to do whatever he pleases with it. Neither the corporation he founded, nor its shareholders have any claim on it, and he is under no obligation to ask for your opinion on the matter.

Re:Finally... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36262322)

The most successful IT CEO in history "not much better." Interesting.

Re:Finally... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36262460)

The most successful IT CEO in history is Steve Jobs. Unlikely that he will work for MicroCrap.

Re:Finally... (5, Insightful)

cozzbp (1845636) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262516)

Bill Gates' net worth $56 billion. Steve Jobs' net worth $8.3 billion. While Steve may be a marketing genius, it is clear who the more "successful" man is.

Re:Finally... (5, Insightful)

Elbowgeek (633324) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262338)

The problem with Ballmer is that he's a strictly corporate type, with no real vision of his own. All of his decisions are informed by corporate thinking, which means he looks at already established and emerging markets and reacts to them. Unfortunately, by the time MS has created a product in reaction to the market the market is already dominated by someone else and/or the public rejects the MS product due to the perception of MS being uncool.

MS has had very little forward-thinking tech make it to the mainstream in the past 20 years considering the size and and intellectual resources at its disposal, and I believe this is what Einhorn is addressing. What MS needs is a leader who can leverage the best and brightest in the company and allow the best ideas (and there's a lot of great ideas floating around in their labs) to see daylight and be marketed properly.

Re:Finally... (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262398)

yup, Apple has been kicking everyone's ass in the innovation department (even if they are hated by many for closed & draconian proprietary business practices), iphone, ipad, iTHIS and iTHAT...

somebody with brains & imagination needs to step up to the plate and kick Apple's ass for a change...

Re:Finally... (-1, Troll)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262450)

innovation? Rofl, the only thing innovative at Apple are the prices, and the stupidity of the people who buy their products.

Re:Finally... (4, Insightful)

harperska (1376103) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262560)

Why so many people fail to grasp the difference between "first to do X" and "first to do X well" I will never understand. Yes, they innovate by taking concepts that others have thought of (tables, mp3 players, etc.) and merge them with a true forward-thinking vision to make something that people want.

Re:Finally... (2, Interesting)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262612)

Actually, most of what Apple has brought to market with a little i in front of it is their own locked down version of something somebody else has invented.

Creative beat Apple to market with the media player, Sandisk had some really nice offerings in the early days as well that easily competed with the early iPods. Palm beat Apple to market with the smart phone. Microsoft beat Apple to market with the idea of a media-center PC (which they were copying from programs available in Linux).... the list goes on.

Apple frankly sucks at innovation. They are reasonably good at improving something somebody else has already invented, but where they truly excel is at marketing. Microsoft is actually pretty good at improving other peoples' work as well, but they have a major image problem, and their marketing is basically non-existant except for the xbox. But neither company really succeeds at innovation despite the wealth of intellectual talent available to both companies.... most innovation is coming out of small shops, and the only behemoth of a company that really fosters innovation these days is Google.

Re:Finally... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36262840)

Apple really excels at turnkey solutions for consumers. They're not a technology innovator so much as they are a technology integrator. At the time it was introduced a portable digital music player was not innovative. Neither was an online store for digital music. What apple did was put the two together in a way that is usable by my mother.

Re:Finally... (2)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262652)

somebody with brains & imagination needs to step up to the plate and kick Apple's ass for a change...

Google are already doing so with Android. Their business model isn't exactly sunshine and puppies, but they do make good products. But really it isn't any one tech company that is doing us good (though I'd give bonus points to Mozilla, Ubuntu and Google for their contributions in the 00s). Given a monopoly they would eventually screw us over out of laziness, or greed. The great thing is having everyone try to outdo each other.

Re:Finally... (4, Interesting)

rudy_wayne (414635) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262430)

The problem with Ballmer is that he's a strictly corporate type, with no real vision of his own. All of his decisions are informed by corporate thinking, which means he looks at already established and emerging markets and reacts to them. Unfortunately, by the time MS has created a product in reaction to the market the market is already dominated by someone else and/or the public rejects the MS product due to the perception of MS being uncool.

MS has had very little forward-thinking tech make it to the mainstream in the past 20 years considering the size and and intellectual resources at its disposal, and I believe this is what Einhorn is addressing. What MS needs is a leader who can leverage the best and brightest in the company and allow the best ideas (and there's a lot of great ideas floating around in their labs) to see daylight and be marketed properly.

The problem is not a lack of vision -- the problem is a lack of a strong competent leader.

For example, a group within Microsoft developed a tablet before Apple came out with the iPad. When the head of the division went to Ballmer for funding to bring the product to market Ballmer killed it. Why? Because the tablet ran a version of Windows and Microsoft's Windows group complained that the tablet group was infringing on "their territory". It's this type of thinking and management incompetence that has caused Microsoft's problems.

Re:Finally... (2)

yarnosh (2055818) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262720)

I think the timing of the tablet was also important. You needed smart phones to get people used to idea of touch devices being used more like general computing platforms. Before iOS and Android, tablets were just not seen as useful devices. Nobody could place them. They were marketed as laptop computers with no keyboard or mouse. Nobody wanted that. But a smart phone with a huge screen, on the other hand...

This, of course, highlights Microsoft's failure in the mobile arena. They keep trying to cram a desktop experience into a mobile device. They just don't seem to get that mobile/touch devices are different.

Re:Finally... (1)

Bloodwine77 (913355) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262804)

I'd rather them try to cram a desktop experience into a mobile device instead of being like many others who are now trying to cram a mobile experience into a desktop device.

Re:Finally... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36262768)

Bwah-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha...etc

'infringing on "their territory"'

How do they think they're going to get Windows on every device in the world if they can't allow it on other devices developed within their own company? Actually, thank God we don't have that sort of thinking in Microsoft or we'd have toasters that ran Windows that either hung and burned it or needed to be rebooted halfway through or we'd only get the toast half done. Either the bottom half or the top half depending on which way the laser scanned it.

ME, I'm waiting for the Linux light bulbs with the IPv6 addresses so I can control all the lighting in the house from a PC without having to do a fancy re-wiring job.

Re:Finally... (3, Insightful)

wisty (1335733) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262466)

The problem with Ballmer is that he's a strictly corporate type, with no real vision of his own. All of his decisions are informed by corporate thinking, which means he looks at already established and emerging markets and reacts to them.

What the hell? That's all Microsoft has ever done. Copied DOS, copied Apple's copy of Xerox's work, copied Java, copied WordPerfect, copied that spreadsheet app ...

Their only problem was, they stopped copying the right products, or copied them too late.

Unfortunately, by the time MS has created a product in reaction to the market the market is already dominated by someone else and/or the public rejects the MS product due to the perception of MS being uncool.

No, MS has a great image. Not amongst techies, but that's nothing new. Microsoft is seen as great by most people in education, small business, big business, and government. Bing didn't suffer for being "uncool". It suffers for being 10 years late, and having no way to lock people in.

MS has had very little forward-thinking tech make it to the mainstream in the past 20 years considering the size and and intellectual resources at its disposal, and I believe this is what Einhorn is addressing. What MS needs is a leader who can leverage the best and brightest in the company and allow the best ideas (and there's a lot of great ideas floating around in their labs) to see daylight and be marketed properly.

MS has made a lot of innovative stuff. Problem is, it gets killed by cross-fighting from established products. How does it fit in with Windows and Office's plans? It doesn't? Bye bye.

They should just copy stuff, and not worry about synergies with their other knock-offs. Their main synergy is their stable of excellent engineers, testers, and managers; and their brand name.

Re:Finally... (1, Insightful)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262806)

What the hell? That's all Microsoft has ever done. Copied DOS, copied Apple's copy of Xerox's work, copied Java, copied WordPerfect, copied that spreadsheet app ...

There's an interesting double standard (not necessarily held by the person I'm responding to) that when Microsoft copies someone else's work and improves on it it's copying or unoriginal, but when, say, Apple does it it's innovation.

Re:Finally... (1)

dc29A (636871) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262268)

Time to do an Apple and bring back Gates?

Bring back the man who had to be begged by J. Allard to take the internet seriously? Gates has as much lack of vision as Ballmer.

Re:Finally... (1)

S.O.B. (136083) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262506)

I hear Darl McBride is looking for a job.

Re:Finally... (5, Interesting)

Mad Merlin (837387) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262224)

I'd really rather that they keep him indefinitely. He's doing an excellent job of running the company into the ground.

Re:Finally... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262414)

Not really. In terms of absolute revenues, Microsoft has grown more than Google for most of the time Google has existed.

Given that Microsoft was starting at big and Google was starting at around 0 that isn't a huge achievement, but it isn't stagnation either.

Re:Finally... (1)

Rudeboy777 (214749) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262538)

Oh, it's stagnation alright. Have you looked at their stock price over the last decade?

Investors are right to call for his head, Ballmer has been MS' biggest problem for many years.

Re:Finally... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262706)

Now convince me that the stock price staying about the same has nothing to do with perception of Microsoft shifting from a growth stock to a value stock, and the billions of dollars in dividends that have been paid out.

Stock prices are an opinion about the value of a company, not a fact. If they were facts, no one would ever make (or lose!) money "playing" the stock market.

Re:Finally... (1)

brendank310 (915634) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262442)

Interesting? Really? So you'd prefer to have less competition in the operating system market? Granted Microsoft has been the demon around here for as long as I can remember, but with someone new at the helm, maybe Microsoft can contribute useful products to the marketplace. They certainly have a large amount of talent, and I would love to see the company leverage it with a new mission. Someone who could successfully translate things that come out of Microsoft R&D to the marketplace would be great. I am not a big fan of Microsoft, haven't used Windows in the last 5 years really, though I do enjoy the Xbox (despite all the problems that have plagued them).

Re:Finally... (1)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262526)

How is he running the company into the ground when they produce record profits (almost) every year

Re:Finally... (1)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262234)

Oh we'll see about that. Tomorrow morning I'm going to officially call for David Einhorn's outster at Greenhorn Capital!

-- StevieB, Microsoft (That's Steve Ballmer for you people who are new to the Internet Explorer, LOL)

Re:Finally... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36262762)

No, O'l Stevy is a rhinocerus, not an elephant.

I disagree. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36262102)

Let him drive it to the ground, baby.

Frosty Piss (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36262104)

Frosty Piss

Soon, a chair found stuck into Einhorn's head (5, Funny)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262108)

Soon, a chair found stuck into Einhorn's head (dann, ein genauer Horn).

he's not stuck in the past (1)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262116)

He's just clinging embarrassingly to others' visions of the future.

Hey, MS, you made it big with a smart desktop. Don't follow Google and return us to an era of dumb terminals for hire, please.

And not every one of us is taken in by Apple's overpriced shine. Work out why you have 90%+ desktop marketshare instead of turning your back on it to chase the remaining 10%.

Thanks.

Re:he's not stuck in the past (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36262256)

To me, he just seems obsessed with the idea that everyone else's success equates to his failure. If Google makes a bicycle, Microsoft will jump on that bandwagon. If Apple starts selling shoes, then Microsoft will too. I wouldn't be surprised if one day Steve drives past a McDonald's and thinks, "why haven't we shut them down yet? Microsoft can make a better burger than they do!"

He needs to realize that it's okay for there to be more than one company in the world, and just focus on the things that his company does best. They make good PC software (I know, that's not a popular opinion around here, but I said it, so there). Let someone else do search. Let someone else sell phones. Let someone else provide cloud services.

Trying to do everything is a great way to end up doing nothing well.

Re:he's not stuck in the past (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262608)

The question is whether he is just narcissistically obsessed with universal dominance, or if he is keenly aware of how powerful little things like network effects and legacy install bases are...

Much of Microsoft's history is, arguably, a demonstration of how useful it is to have an exclusive platform large enough to lure developers, platform continuity long enough to allow people to get away with running almost whatever crap they want, and using people's dependence on one part of your product line to extend into other areas.

Re:he's not stuck in the past (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262798)

hey make good PC software (I know, that's not a popular opinion around here, but I said it, so there)

It's not that it's not popular opinion, it's that it's a retarded opinion for anyone who has ever had access to any of the alternatives at any point in MS's lifetime. Their dominance has generally been due to sheer momentum from their success in the 90s, not because anything they do is especially good. Their success in the 90s wasn't anything to do with being technically good either. Microsoft is good at business and marketing. They have the occasional product that could be called "good" (Xbox Live is looking pretty peachy compared to PSN recently for example), but overall.. not so much.

Re:he's not stuck in the past (1)

Albanach (527650) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262300)

And not every one of us is taken in by Apple's overpriced shine. Work out why you have 90%+ desktop marketshare instead of turning your back on it to chase the remaining 10%.

You seem to presume that 90% of PC owners are actually making a choice and selecting Windows.

Re:he's not stuck in the past (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36262468)

And not every one of us is taken in by Apple's overpriced shine. Work out why you have 90%+ desktop marketshare instead of turning your back on it to chase the remaining 10%.

You seem to presume that 90% of PC owners are actually making a choice and selecting Windows.

Well, obviously they are. Maybe it's an easy choice but that doesn't make it not a choice.

Re:he's not stuck in the past (1)

Ferzerp (83619) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262470)

Similarly, you presume that they aren't.

Steve Ballmer is my hero (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36262124)

Developers!
Developers!
Developers!
Develpers!
Develpers!

Re:Steve Ballmer is my hero (1)

Aldenissin (976329) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262306)

Der der der denk

Steve Ballmer's head on a pike (1)

Required Snark (1702878) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262138)

Please!

Re:Steve Ballmer's head on a pike (5, Funny)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262436)

I think it would look better on a guppy.

Re:Steve Ballmer's head on a pike (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262764)

Am I a geek if I just pictured someone photoshopping Ballmer's head onto Captain Christopher Pike's body?

Not like somebody else will do different (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36262150)

Microsoft is not going to be changing its stripes any time soon, no matter who is at the helm.

Re:Not like somebody else will do different (1)

Abstrackt (609015) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262588)

That reminds me of HHGTTG: "Presidents don't have power, their purpose is to draw attention away from it."

Re:Not like somebody else will do different (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262816)

What about Steve Jobs? That would be hilarious. And scary.

Smells (4, Interesting)

Lord Grey (463613) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262152)

From TFA (emphasis mine):

Einhorn's Greenlight Capital hedge fund has been a recent buyer of Microsoft stock, which at under 10 times expected earnings is regarded by many as undervalued.

So, this guy's company buys a bunch of Microsoft stock, then utters a (probably popular) opinion that the head of Microsoft should resign. Is Einhorn just pissed that the stock hasn't moved, or is he trying to manipulate the price through the media?

Re:Smells (2)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262202)

His company is now a significant owner. He has the right to ask for such things. Nothing wrong with it at all.

Re:Smells (2)

Phisbut (761268) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262376)

His company is now a significant owner. He has the right to ask for such things. Nothing wrong with it at all.

From TFA :

Greenlight currently holds about 9 million shares in Microsoft, or 0.11 percent of the company's outstanding shares, according to Thomson Reuters data.

I'd hardly call 0.11% being a significant owner. Doesn't mean he's not allowed to voice his opinion though.

Re:Smells (1)

The Grim Reefer2 (1195989) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262242)

Is Einhorn just pissed that the stock hasn't moved, or is he trying to manipulate the price through the media?

Yes.

Re:Smells (1)

Rary (566291) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262296)

or is he trying to manipulate the price through the media?

Two paragraphs above that:

Microsoft shares shot up 0.87 percent in after-hours trading, the most of any Dow Jones industrial average component.

So I'd say "yes", and add "successfully".

Heh (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262168)

"...saying the world's largest software company's long-time leader is stuck in the past."

Heh. Speaking of Steve Ballmer and being stuck in the past, isn't it about time for a flying chair joke?

Growth vs Returns (1, Insightful)

RichMan (8097) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262170)

Long ago Microsoft pwnd the planets desktop ecosystem space. After that, until we make contact with ET growth is going to naturally be limited. Microsoft should have transitioned from growth mode to stable mode and started paying out dividends to stock holders. The attempts to levarage into other markets are going to a) cost a lot and b) come under anti-trust scrutiny.
There comes a point when a corporate giant should just be happy with what they have got and give up the raiding, and make their space the best it can be.

Re:Growth vs Returns (1)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262270)

In general I think you're right. But in Microsoft's particular case they're stuck with very few profit centers (mostly Windows and Office). And those are potentially under attack, or at least stagnating. So I could see their strong desire to diversify.

Re:Growth vs Returns (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262754)

I suspect that their problem with just going stable(aside from ego-driven bullshittery) is that they know that playing defense is hard.

After all, they took their (abjectly sucky; but cheap) desktop OS, grew a bunch of marketshare during the desktop boom, and then had the momentum and resources to build essentially an entirely new OS(NT) and, through a mixture of interface familiarity and tie-ins to the desktop, begin assaults on both the server side and the handheld side(the former fairly effective, even not-primarily-windows shops are likely to have at least a couple of domain controllers and maybe an Exchange server, and they've even managed to produce offerings that aren't utterly laughable in web-serving and compute... Handheld, er, not quite as much...)

For a company that has done that, watching Google build an email system that everybody likes, then start tacking on some crude word-processing features, or Apple build a phone that is highly popular, likely reminds them of the look in IBM's eyes back when "IBM PC" started turning into "Wintel".

Obviously, just as MS never successfully attacked some of the legacy UNIX and mainframe installations, MS's competitors will likely never crack some hardcore microsoftie corporations; but Microsoft has real room to worry as you get further away from those.

I think we can all agree on the "head stuck" part. (3)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262172)

The only question is location...

Ballmer seems to be following the Gates tradition of "massive amounts of technology" combined with a complete, utter, lack of imagination and inability to accurately anticipate technological trends. Hopefully, there's someone who can do the latter that isn't just an "I've discovered smartphones!" kind of guy.

Re:I think we can all agree on the "head stuck" pa (2)

steelfood (895457) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262448)

It's not "massive amounts of technology" so much as "shady business practices" that Gates is well known for. This has changed significantly over the past ten or fifteen years, partly due to the anti-trust ruling. Once that has expired, Microsoft can go back to throwing their weight around in the industry again. I don't know if Ballmer is the same level of business genius that Gates was. But he's certainly not moving the company in any other direction though.

The lack of imagination and technological foresight part is otherwise fairly accurate. Individual employees might disagree, but this particular trait or the lack thereof comes out in management decisions.

Re:I think we can all agree on the "head stuck" pa (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36262778)

It's already expired [slashdot.org] .

Re:I think we can all agree on the "head stuck" pa (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36262834)

The only question is location...

Ballmer seems to be following the Gates tradition of "massive amounts of technology" combined with a complete, utter, lack of imagination and inability to accurately anticipate technological trends. Hopefully, there's someone who can do the latter that isn't just an "I've discovered smartphones!" kind of guy.

Masses of technology IS anticipating trends - the Apple route of "this is the future and I will make it so" is too directed, their products always limit the user and act as though they know what is better - very often limiting technological advancement for some trivial (to most, based on market share) feature such as "how smooth is my desktop machine I will never touch aside from a few buttons" or "how seamless is my smartphone that can't even reach broadband speeds because of some idiotic licensing agreement with a carrier" - it isn't the duty of a corporate figurehead to anticipate changes and make them happen, it is their duty to be prepared for any and to do their part in advancing them.

has there ever been a situation (4, Insightful)

Presto Vivace (882157) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262174)

where a hedge fund manager made a change of management in a large publicly held company and that company got better?

He's doing an OK job. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36262196)

Microsoft just bought Nokia for $0 Billion. He's doing OK.

Well then (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36262200)

obviously he will be gone by Monday. Who after all could withstand such a damning slashdot article.

Re:Well then (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36262260)

I'm 24 and I take offense to that. You need to raise your nerds moar bettar.

New MS Icon (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36262208)

God!! Can't we get a new MS icon. No one under 25 understands the borg reference!!! Bill isn't even in charge anymore!!

Re:New MS Icon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36262402)

Now that ballmer is leaving we can replace it with him :P

Never mind the past (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36262226)

Never mind the past get em back into the stone age
but make sure balls up ballmer stays with em ..

Move along, nothing to see here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36262232)

Ballmer owns 4.75% of the company (408 million shares) versus Einhorn with 0.11% of the company (his 9 million shares).

Einhorn has a lot of work ahead of him to convince other activist investors to side with him, but still the stock was up on the news that Einhorn had taken a position in MSFT - which is good for Einhorn. Furthermore, it's free publicity for his activist campaign. Good luck to him, he'll need it.

Where are the shareholders? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36262262)

We need an enterprising financial reporter to write the book on how Microsoft with infinite financial and technical resources and starting from a commanding market share managed to completely lose the smart phone business. Gates is so rich he doesn't care but why aren't the other shareholders screaming bloody murder?

Who wins a pissing contest like this... (1)

Jetrel (514839) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262266)

This is probably a Win-Win for Microsoft no matter how you look at it.

On one hand if he does step down they get a new leader and can use that momentum to propel them forward. All new product are great because their next deity blessed them. Not to mention the free press!

or

If he does not step down it shows that Ballmer is in it for the long run and they get tons of free press.

It would behoove them to drag this out as long as possible.

Teldar Paper (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36262274)

Yes, of course, Steve Ballmer has many faults and has made many decisions I might disagree with, but a hedge fund manager is the last person we want advising technology companies. All this worm understands is balance sheets and returns on investment. Technology requires a lot of risky research whose advantages may not be readily apparent. Let a bean-counter in and you end up with Apple-under-John-Sculley. Some people should really stick to selling sugared water. Go ye crawling back to Wall Street.

Re:Teldar Paper (1)

6031769 (829845) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262626)

Kudos to AC for Reference of the Day. However, Microsoft is closer to Gecko than Teldar. Buying up competitors just to junk their offering, suing their own customers for piracy, vendor lock-in, EULA, anti-trust convictions, etc. - are these worse than what the finance houses get up to?

Ballmer is doing good. (1)

dicobalt (1536225) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262324)

Windows, Office, Xbox, those are all bread winners and they are not going away. So what if they are a bit late to the Tablet and Phone business? It's funny how "mobile" technology enthusiasts are so edgy and angry all the time.

MS following standard trajectory (1)

bkmoore (1910118) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262328)

The reason MS has been lagging on innovation is that they are still the dominant player in office apps and in consumer operating systems. MS executives and engineers are used to sleeping soundly at night. Google has innovated because they were a new company and need to come up with something fast. Apple innovated because if they kept on selling OS 9 on Motorola they would have gone out of business five years ago. IBM got out of the retail space and focused on being a computer science company.

There is not a lot of room for growth or innovation at the top. Look at GM, AT&T, Disney, Boeing, PanAm and other former industry leaders. They get too comfortable to innovate. Suddenly new players are entering their markets and they are late to see that the competition is better. As for the hedge fund managers comments. I would take them with a grain of salt. He obviously has put a fair amount of his clients money in MS. Is he really long on MS, or just trying to stir up enough controversy that he can dislodge SB and make a few million on the bump?

Fat Cat Syndrome (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262824)

The reason MS has been lagging on innovation is that they are still the dominant player in office apps and in consumer operating systems. MS executives and engineers are used to sleeping soundly at night. Google has innovated because they were a new company and need to come up with something fast. Apple innovated because if they kept on selling OS 9 on Motorola they would have gone out of business five years ago. IBM got out of the retail space and focused on being a computer science company.

There is not a lot of room for growth or innovation at the top. Look at GM, AT&T, Disney, Boeing, PanAm and other former industry leaders. They get too comfortable to innovate. Suddenly new players are entering their markets and they are late to see that the competition is better. As for the hedge fund managers comments. I would take them with a grain of salt. He obviously has put a fair amount of his clients money in MS. Is he really long on MS, or just trying to stir up enough controversy that he can dislodge SB and make a few million on the bump?

If I had points, I'd mod you up. What you are describing is known in business terms as the "fat cat syndrome." Businesses become so successful that future products are evaluated not as to what they can do to benefit the company, but instead how they will cut into existing product lines. IBM was the biggest example of this back in the 70s and 80s.

For IBM, they purposely held down the PC because it was a threat to their mini computer and later small main frame business. The arrogantly made the statement that they would have to sell a lot of PCs to make the profit from one System 36. True, but very short sighted. The whole PS/2 line was an attempt to treat the PC as a technology platform like the System 36.

Meanwhile, since IBM was no longer "leading" in the field, others stepped up and took the control away from them. Microsoft is in the same boat. There is nothing in Google or Amazon or whomever that MIcrosoft couldn't have done or didn't have the resources to do. Instead, they want/wanted to protect their current product line (Windows and Office). Of course, now that the market is saturated, at least in the West, so that PCs are now commodity priced, there is no growth left in Microsoft's core products. Nor can those products provide the substantial returns needed to provide the future resources.

The only place Microsoft has not followed this method is with their XBox. They continue to introduce new technologies, plus their pricing model is very different. With the XBox, they initially loss money on each XBox sold, but made it up from commissions from the game producers for each game sold. They no longer lose money on the hardware side of the XBox, but it is still well below the ROI on most technology products and relies heavily on game sales commissions to generate revenue.

One reason that lead to this with the XBox is that there is/was substantial competition in the market place. This did not/does not exist in their PC offerings. Yes, there is competition, but not substantial competition. With smart phones, Microsoft is coming late to the game. Usually, in a technology, this is bad. However, the phone market changes so quickly, that it can be an advantage, if Microsoft learns from other's mistakes and adds features not found but wanted elsewhere. There is a good chance that the phone market can support 3 different platforms. This does not bode well for RIM as they will most likely be impacted than iOS and Android, but time will tell.

The fat cat syndrome has seen many once profitable, at the top of the world, companies falter. What happened to Lotus, or Ashton Tate or even Wordperfect? HP, Compaq, AST, etc., are just shadows of what they once were. Like IBM, all of these companies fell victim to protective decisions. Basically, these companies, and Microsoft, are trying to use a prevent defense as in American Football. The problem with that tactic is that it allows the other side, their competition, to march closer and closer to the goal while protecting against the big play. However, just as in football, once the other side gets close enough to the goal, they no longer need a big play, just the right play to score.

Fat cats don't exist in just the technology companies, but in all industries. Any business that is "too big to fail" probably already suffers from fat cat syndrome.

Steve! - (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36262340)

Call Jobs to head MS!

Please don't tablify or mobilize Windows (1)

Bloodwine77 (913355) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262366)

I hope there isn't a movement within Microsoft to jump on the bandwagon of dumbing down and "simplifying" their desktop environment so that it looks like it would be right at home on a tablet, netbook, or other mobile devices.

If being stuck in the past means having a fully featured, straightforward desktop environment then consider me an old timer who refuses to change with the times.

I do not like Gnome Shell. I do not like Unity. I do not want Windows to move in that direction.

I think people are seriously underestimating the importance and continued usage of desktops and laptops in the future. We will not all be using tablets.

Like! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36262372)

If /. ever had a need for a "Like" button this is the article that needs it.

CHAPTER XXV (1)

wren337 (182018) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262384)

WHAT FORTUNE CAN EFFECT IN HUMAN AFFAIRS AND HOW TO
WITHSTAND HER

[...]
Changes in estate also issue from this, for if, to one who governs
himself with caution and patience, times and affairs converge in such a
way that his administration is successful, his fortune is made; but if
times and affairs change, he is ruined if he does not change his course
of action. But a man is not often found sufficiently circumspect to know
how to accommodate himself to the change, both because he cannot deviate
from what nature inclines him to do, and also because, having always
prospered by acting in one way, he cannot be persuaded that it is well
to leave it;
and, therefore, the cautious man, when it is time to turn
adventurous, does not know how to do it, hence he is ruined;
but had he
changed his conduct with the times fortune would not have changed.

"The Prince", Nicolo Machiavelli

Pot and kettle? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36262408)

So what we have is one of the financial mis-management types who continue to wreak havoc on the US economy calling the guy who is badly managing one of the least innovative companies in the software world "stuck in the past."

As little as I like Ballmer or Microsoft, pal, at least THEY have contributed something: operating systems, software and even some hardware.

What have YOU done Einhorn?
Helped cripple the US economy by placing more value on the money to be extracted from a target company than the products and services a target company can provide?

Hmmm, Einhorn:
Isn't your company based in the Cayman Islands in order to avoid paying taxes to the US government, David?

Can Every PLEASE Keep Quiet!!! (3, Funny)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262416)

There's a whole bunch of really rich people who are about to rip into each other and I don't want to miss ANYTHING!

Re:Can Every PLEASE Keep Quiet!!! (1)

Elbowgeek (633324) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262600)

I'll get the popcorn and sodas. I hope this is in 3D...

Given that Einhorn... (1)

scolby (838499) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262424)

...is also about to shell out $200 million for a share of the New York Mets, I have to question his evaluation abilities.

Says The Guy who Bought a Share in the Mets? (2)

gubers33 (1302099) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262440)

I mean that show a smart and sound in investor. Let's buy a share in a team that is a money pit that will give me no say in the operations. He must really be in touch with the current times, because the Mets haven't made any money in years.

Re:Says The Guy who Bought a Share in the Mets? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36262710)

You might want to chat with the folks at Lehman Bros and see if they view Einhorn that benignly

The only thing you need to know (4, Insightful)

rudy_wayne (414635) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262462)

1. Bill Gates is Chairman of the Board of Directors

2. Bill Gates is Microsoft's largest shareholder

3. Steve Ballmer was Best Man at Bill Gates' wedding

Unless Steve Ballmer gets hit by a bus, he isn't going anywhere.

MS advantages disappear in a post-PC world (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36262484)

We're moving into the post-PC world at breakneck speed - anyone who doesn't see this has their head stuck into the sand just as far as the 68K workstation guys in the 80's. "PCs will never take over - they're too blah blah blah". You hear the same refrain now from people with a vested interest in Wintel desktop PCs, even as consumers are moving en-mass to mobile and tablet computing.

Mobile and tablet computing is taking over from the consumer PC for most people who don't want to deal with the hassles of a Windows PC, and all of Microsoft's monopoly advantages disappear in this new world. They have to compete on a level playing field, and they are too slow moving, stodgy, and slow to do that. They can no longer leverage their early desktop monopoly.

The move to mobile will kill Microsoft just as the move away from big iron killed a bunch of companies that seemed like they would be around forever. Some of those companies exist in name only or as sub-sub-sub divisions of something that bought the company that bought them, but we can fairly consider them "dead".

Laces out! (2)

Shoten (260439) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262490)

Don't worry...soon, Steve will reveal that Einhorn is Finkle.

He may be right, but... (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262492)

Balmer stepping down isn't going to help. Microsoft needs direction. Bill Gates provided that direction, just like Steve Jobs provides the direction for Apple. Say what you want - both of them are ruthless businessmen who have a clear direction and set the company on the right path.

Unless Microsoft has a boss who can actually guide the company then it doesn't make any difference whether Balmer's in charge or not.

The King is DEAD! (1)

OldIsCool (1897304) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262734)

Off with his head! Long live the Steve! Um...

press = suckers (1)

mschaffer (97223) | more than 3 years ago | (#36262746)

I honestly don't know why people publish this stuff.
Now, thanks to the press, there will be a bump in MSFT prices, and the hedge fund manager is laughing all the way to the bank.

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