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Is Bill Gates the Cure For What Ails Microsoft?

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the more-cowbell-not-available dept.

Microsoft 337

theodp writes "After reading the recent call for Steve Ballmer to step down, gdgt's Ryan Block concludes that it's time for Bill Gates to come back to Microsoft. 'I've long seen it as a foregone conclusion that Ballmer isn't the guy to be running what was until quite recently the world's preeminent technology company,' writes Block. 'The more pressing question is: who should replace him? I think we all know damn well who — but I'm not so sure he's available. Yet.' Block adds: 'I'm not saying Bill's going to leave his new gig as the world's greatest living philanthropist with aplomb, but the multi-billion dollar wheels at The Gates Foundation have been set in motion — and lest we all forget, the Foundation's endowment is tied directly to Microsoft's long-term success. It may just happen that Bill can help the Foundation more by securing Microsoft's future.'"

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337 comments

Bill Gates (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36295378)

I remember reading some books from Bill Gates when I was a kid and just learning programming. He actually had some quite nice ideas (and some that sound weird now a days), but underneath he is a geeky person. A lot more than Ballmer. Microsoft has really got their act together in the recent years tho, so I'm not sure if it's a good idea. Maybe Gates could start some new thing? He has nice ideas after all.

Re:Bill Gates (2)

rasmusbr (2186518) | more than 2 years ago | (#36295472)

Yeah, but if you own enough money to hire thousands of people your time is probably best spent looking for other people with good ideas. That will be more productive than pursuing any idea you can come up with yourself.

Re:Bill Gates (2)

91degrees (207121) | more than 2 years ago | (#36295584)

From what I can tell, the successful entrepreneurs aren't the ones who can come up with good ideas. Lots of people can do that The skill is filtering them. It's hard to determine what's a good idea and what's a bad idea. You need to estimate the cost, estimate the return and the likelihood of getting that return and figure out if it's worth it.

Re:Bill Gates (1, Redundant)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#36296014)

I don't think Bill Gates did anything miraculous. He sold MS-DOS to IBM, and then rode their success as the IBM PC became the default standard for computers. The PC "won" the computing battle therefore the microsoft OS won.

Basically he got lucky, and if he had picked somebody else, like Commodore or Atari or TI to sell his OS, then he'd be in the same place they are (bankrupt). Ever heard of Berkeley Softworks? No because even though they developed a nice GUI-based OS in 1985, they chose the wrong team (commodore) and disappeared off the planet.

Had they chosen IBM PC instead, maybe we'd all be using Berkeley Windows instead of MS windows. And Bill Gates would be in the same camp as Nolan Bushnell or Jack Tramel.

I'll answer that. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36295388)

No.

Re:I'll answer that. (2)

SerpentMage (13390) | more than 2 years ago | (#36295478)

I completely agree here...

The problem with Microsoft is not something one person can solve. The problem with Microsoft is that it competes with every freaken tech company on the planet! You can't run a company where the entire world is your enemy. It is nearly impossible to focus on any particular solution since doing so is the lowest common denominator and that means crap...

Microsoft needs to split itself apart and then start attacking its competitors....

Re:I'll answer that. (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 2 years ago | (#36295736)

The problem with Microsoft is that it has grown big enough and entrenched enough that it is slow to respond to changes. There is a maintenence and creativity cost-per-feature, and MS's software has been feature-ing for years now. They don't generally create light and usable tools like Dropbox, BackpackIt, etc because as a company they entrench teams on fighting for expansion of specific parts of larger applications. They're just not setup to compete with small teams doing strange offshoot things.

That's not to say it is an insurmountable issue. But MS needs to re-examine how it structures teams if it wants to directly compete with nimbler, younger companies.

Re:I'll answer that. (1)

SerpentMage (13390) | more than 2 years ago | (#36295978)

Well this is part of the problem. Let's say Office wants to create a new release. That means they need feedback from the consumer, the home user, and the professional. These three groups are not necessarily the same group and hence you get the symptom of slow to change. The problem is not slow to change, but the fact that they get so many cross currents.

When you are a Dropbox you only have one client in mind. If Microsoft had to create dropbox they would have to think of the developer, the enterprise, the home user, the mobile user, etc, etc, etc... It is a big huge problem for them.

Re:I'll answer that. (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#36295742)

The problem with Microsoft is that it competes with every freaken tech company on the planet!

From what I hear each division within the company is practically at war with all the others, so it's competing with itself too. That's rarely a good thing.

Frankentech? (1)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 2 years ago | (#36295902)

The problem with Microsoft is that it competes with every freaken tech company on the planet!

I read that as "every Frankentech company", which was confusing, because surely only Microsoft has achieved such a nefarious status.

Re:I'll answer that. (1)

fwarren (579763) | more than 2 years ago | (#36295986)

I agree

Why do you think he left in the first place? So his fingerprints would not be on the decline of Microsoft.

Look at Windows "rise" through Vista. The code base kept multiplying in size. Requiring larger teams and more management, until the whole thing collapses on itself. The company provided double digit growth EVERY YEAR as the PC market expanded and every business purchased new PCs. Then as business only purchased replacement PCs, the home use market expanded. This trend could not continue on forever. Hell it could not continue on for even another decade.

U right (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36295392)

You can say that again.

What? (2)

symes (835608) | more than 2 years ago | (#36295394)

With Buffett and a few others pitching in to help the Gates Foundation I hardly think the Foundation is reliant on MS. Also, I would hardly think Gates would be interesting in "saving" what is still a very profitable organisation - he's much more into pushing boundaries.

Re:What? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36295452)

With Buffett and a few others pitching in to help the Gates Foundation I hardly think the Foundation is reliant on MS.

If they are then there's something seriously wrong. It would be irresponsible to leave such a large charitable foundation massively exposed to the performance of a single company.

Not so sure (1)

KSobby (833882) | more than 2 years ago | (#36295396)

Technology is becoming social graph driven. Do we really want a socially inept person running a tech company that claims to be moving in a social direction (as evidenced by Bing's most recent commercial)?

Re:Not so sure (0, Flamebait)

yahwotqa (817672) | more than 2 years ago | (#36295440)

The sad part is that Ballmer is even more socially inept. He's just a clown in a tie.

Re:Not so sure (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36295818)

He's just a clown in a tie.

You misspelt monkey.

Re:Not so sure (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36295454)

Bing actually has a good market share in US now - 30%. And by market demographics those who use Bing tend to be richer, better educated people.

http://www.seodesignsolutions.com/blog/search-engine-optimization/comparing-google-and-bing-demographics/ [seodesignsolutions.com]

Bingâ(TM)s Audience is Older: Bingâ(TM)s audience, compared to the Web at large, tends to be older, favoring the 35+ crowd but especially favoring the 55-64 group.
Bingâ(TM)s Audience is More U.S.-Focused: Where Google gets 34% of its traffic from the U.S., Bing gets nearly 40% of its traffic, making it more focused on the U.S. Bingâ(TM)s next-biggest country is China, a country where Google has had several issues.
Bing Users are More Likely to Have Children: Due in large part to the age difference, Bingâ(TM)s users are more likely to have children than Googleâ(TM)s. Google users, according to Alexa, are less likely to have children than the Web at large.

This audience will most likely tend to be wealthier, as older individuals are more likely to be better off financially though the increased likelihood of children also means, possibly, less disposable income.

Google might have more people, but Bing has more wealthier people. It's interesting thing to think about anyway.

Re:Not so sure (3, Interesting)

1s44c (552956) | more than 2 years ago | (#36295498)

Bing actually has a good market share in US now - 30%. And by market demographics those who use Bing tend to be richer, better educated people.

You mean the kind of people who could afford to buy a computer or laptop but could not afford the time to change from the default MS recommended one?

Re:Not so sure (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36295544)

Well, why would they? Bing is not a bad search engine. Most of the hate for it on slashdot probably comes from the fact it's from Microsoft.

I actually do SEO as my job. Unlike Google, Bing tends to put more value for links inside good content. Google on the other hands count all kinds of links. That is why you see link spam on blogs, slashdot and all kinds of places. Everyone is gaming Google. Bing on the other hand puts more weight on quality. You see a lot less search engine spam on Bing.

Re:Not so sure (1)

walternate (2210674) | more than 2 years ago | (#36295650)

Well, why would they? Bing is not a bad search engine. Most of the hate for it on slashdot probably comes from the fact it's from Microsoft.

Partly that, and partly the strange fact that only US (and recently UK I think) really have Bing. In other countries around the world it is the old crappy solution, plastered with Bing logo and a tiny "beta" tag. If I search on "Bing" in my country, the result is utter crap. If I search on US Bing I find it quite nice.

Why someone would do something like this to their brand is difficult to understand.

Re:Not so sure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36295786)

Actually Google has the same kind of problem. Not as large, sure. But where US has all these recipes, product search, news etc custom searches, they're completely missing in other countries.

However, the main results are quite good. But just noting that forgetting other than US countries is not uncommon for Google either. This even while Google has a few datacenters hosted here.

Re:Not so sure (1)

MaroonMotor (967664) | more than 2 years ago | (#36295998)

Indeed, the perfect demographic for marketers - Have lots of money, not as much taste and will willingly accept whatever is shoveled to them. Whats not to like about that demographic?

Re:Not so sure (4, Informative)

miffo.swe (547642) | more than 2 years ago | (#36295514)

Bing has about 8% in the US and about 3% worldwide according to statcounter and most other sources. 30% is a dream number bing hasnt even been close to. I have never ever heard of seodesignsolutions before but as their numbers are very different from the established players i call bullshit on their statistics until correlated from more respected sources.

For all we know seodesignsolutions might just be a shell setup by Bing PHBs trying to get atleast one payment for good performance in their lifetime.

Re:Not so sure (1)

Denogh (2024280) | more than 2 years ago | (#36295568)

It goes on to explain those numbers and why Bing has the older demo:

The difference can be largely explained by the fact that Bing is the default search engine for IE. Users who either switch the default search engine or use a different browser generally prefer Google. This also means, most likely, Bing users are less tech-savvy than Google users, though that is not something the metrics can show conclusively.

Having worked tech support jobs, I have no doubt that this is the case.

Re:Not so sure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36295752)

wtf why is this marked -1 troll? MS haters at it again...

Re:Not so sure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36295928)

Bullshit.

I deal with the "richer and more educated".. by that I mean the type of people that put a 68" TV inset in the wall and this is their smallest TV for just the kids. they have 5,000,00+ homes use crestron home automation and AV control and call their Corvette Z06 the cheap weekend toy.

Guess what they have at home..... APPLE PC's and laptops.

and they certainly dont use Bing.

This is just with the 300+ clients I have. All making 7-9 figures yearly.

Re:Not so sure (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36295516)

Technology is becoming social graph driven...

What the fuck does that even mean? Stop reading blogs about startups. "inventing" a way for your friends to know you just stepped into a restaurant and ordered a taco, and that is was delicious... is a far cry from a flying car, new energy source, or cure for cancer.

All Microsoft has to do is be good at what it does. Be a good provider of video game consoles, search engine results, computer and cell phone operating systems. And now I guess, do something with Skype. But none of that has anything to do with the marketing spammers wet-dream that is social media. "Oh sorry Bill, I know you started the company and led it through its most profitable years, but you need more facebook friends."

Re:Not so sure (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 2 years ago | (#36295788)

no it's not. a very small portion of the industry in social graph driven, and a very small portion of that portion is making any kind of revenue (shareholders are faring a little better though, and have a vested interest in keeping that bubble alive).

back in the real world, real users willing to pay real money for something that provides a real service is still the norm.

I don't remember billg having any kind of aura though. Actually, i don't really see a difference between him and Ballmer, apart from chair throwing. When he was running it, MS was even worse at consumer stuff, at getting into new things (remember how long it took them to tackle the internet in any sort of way ?)...

Gates Is Not The Answer (3, Insightful)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 2 years ago | (#36295410)

Bill Gates is not the answer for Microsoft, but changing leadership is. They have become sloth-like in their old age and have become a market follower rather than a market leader.

MS probably needs to remove one or two levels of management to allow things to speed up again. Ideas and progress are slowed by too many filters.

Re:Gates Is Not The Answer (0)

1s44c (552956) | more than 2 years ago | (#36295508)

Bill Gates is not the answer for Microsoft, but changing leadership is. They have become sloth-like in their old age and have become a market follower rather than a market leader.

Become? They have been a market follower since always.

Re:Gates Is Not The Answer (3, Insightful)

wisty (1335733) | more than 2 years ago | (#36295622)

Yeah, but they used to catch up with the guys they were chasing.

Re:Gates Is Not The Answer (1)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 2 years ago | (#36295894)

No, not always. They did a few cool and interesting things. Their business practices then became like the people they were battling: proprietary, herding, FUD-driven, and obfuscatory to the max.

Then they pitted divisions against each other, used darwinian project management and became slaves to Wall Street, this ending any morality that was left.

Gates as a leader? No. Visionary? A bit of one, but that's lost to the mythos of others these days.

Re:Gates Is Not The Answer (3, Interesting)

WuphonsReach (684551) | more than 2 years ago | (#36295702)

MS probably needs to remove one or two levels of management to allow things to speed up again. Ideas and progress are slowed by too many filters.

Too many management layers and probably too many of the wrong people have been promoted over the years. It's not going to be as easy as saying "replace Balmer". Whoever takes over is going to have to do some serious housecleaning to get rid of those people who are making the decisions to ship bad products.

They should have done what the anti-trust fans wanted done years ago. Split the company up into at least 3 major segments and spin things off. Shove the MS-Office bunch into their own company, shove the server folks into their own company, shove the hardware products into yet another company, etc.

Which cuts down on the layers of bureaucracy and forces those product lines to compete on merit instead of relying on other corporate cash cows (or being used as a cash cow).

Get rid of the dilberts and move the Peter's down (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#36295774)

Windows 7 is good now is not the time to push windows 8 so fast and the new GUI has to go. MS seems to have both the The Dilbert principle and The Peter Principle going for them. But they are so big that is does not get in the of big stuff like windows 7 but does make stuff like windows vista.

1970's nerd with 0 cred. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36295412)

Just enjoy your money, dude - the world has passed you by. DOS and QBASIC just doesn't cut it anymore.

Let them swim on their own... (5, Interesting)

CFBMoo1 (157453) | more than 2 years ago | (#36295414)

Honestly if companies like Microsoft and Apple can't do without their great leaders then they need to sink forever in to the abyss. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs aren't going to live forever no matter how much money they have to get human parts to replace things like Jobs did. You can't even stick their heads in jars like Futurama did. Although I would be highly be amused if they ever did manage that one for real.

Re:Let them swim on their own... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36295714)

Honestly if companies like Microsoft and Apple can't do without their great leaders then they need to sink forever in to the abyss.

A recent Fortune article reported that Jobs set up an "Apple University" inside the company where rising executives study Harvard-MBA-style Apple business cases to learn why and how Jobs et al made decisions that led Apple to where it is today--trying to imprint Jobs' business acumen DNA on the next generation of Apple leadership. So it looks like his medical condition has scared the company enough to start seriously preparing for Life After Jobs. And the company's performance during his two recent medical leaves of absence suggests that those preparations are working pretty well.

Re:Let them swim on their own... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36295828)

It's not just MS and Apple. All companies tend to lose their charm and melt away into corporate conformity once their founders are out of the picture. It's the founder who injects the sense of personality into the company. I think this character which the founder imbues into his company is very important for young companies, especially those which cater to consumers. I think that's why young technology companies tend to be run by people with rockstar-like personalities: Dell, Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg, Schmidt, et al.

I think bringing Gates back would be the best thing Microsoft could do for their bottom line and their stock.

Retired (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36295420)

No, he's retired. Ballmer is doing fine, that's a false premise for the debate.

It's not as bad as looks like (3, Interesting)

LavouraArcaica (2012798) | more than 2 years ago | (#36295424)

For me, Bill Gates is the symbol of the junk-microsoft: DOS, windows 3.1; 95; 98; Me. As far as I see the history of Microsoft, since Gates left the CEO chair, things are slightly better. And, finally, the problem isn't Ballmer, but the fact that a company can't be the only big player in the entire sector forever.

Re:It's not as bad as looks like (1)

zlogic (892404) | more than 2 years ago | (#36295576)

Yeah, and after Ballmer fully gained control, Microsoft released Vista. XP doesn't count because it's Windows 2000 with Fischer-Price icons and some end-user stuff ported from Windows ME.

Heh. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36296064)

Oh, yes, junk Microsoft - the days when Windows was actively being improved. Yes, that was terrible. Especially given how great other operating systems at the time were. Like Apple - oh, wait. Apple was on its deathbed until the iPod. Right. Uh, Linux? Oh, right - Linux hadn't even managed to cannibalize the Unix market at that point. (And I'm still waiting for teh YEAR OF LEENUCKS ON TEH DESKTOPZ!!!!!!!111111111 Real soon now, rite gaiz?!!?!?!?!11111eleven)

Ballmer is the problem; and he's driven a once-great company straight into the ground. For fuck's sake, I've used Windows for over seventeen goddamned years, and I'm left seriously considering a switch to OS X - because for as flawed as the Cult of Jobs is, there's no usable alternative.

amazon (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#36295432)

MS may want to acquire their way into a profitable market, such as eBay or Amazon, (eBay is cheaper and they'd get PayPal with it), and then if they do get Skype, they could come up with tech to do 'peer-to-peer' sales, something that eBay/Amazon don't offer because they don't have that kind of tech and something Skype doesn't offer, because it's not their business, but if they did something like that, they could then have an online bank, an online retailer, an communications company all in one package, and in the current world, where their business model of selling OS and Office is slowly eroding away, they will have to be thinking about more online presence and shifting to these markets, that have plenty of opportunity to evolve further... or maybe I am totally off base.

Re:amazon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36295484)

if they do get Skype, they could come up with tech to do 'peer-to-peer' sales, something that eBay/Amazon don't offer because they don't have that kind of tech

Do you realize that eBay used to own Skype, don't you?

or maybe I am totally off base

Yes.

Re:amazon (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#36295496)

I know they used to own it, they couldn't figure out what to do with it, even though it was staring right into their faces. They can't think beyond their current box.

Re:amazon (2)

miffo.swe (547642) | more than 2 years ago | (#36295540)

The problem is that whatever Microsoft buys gets tainted by their bad rep amongst users and soon abandoned. Just look at how many jumped ship from Yahoo as soon as Bing took over their search results.

Re:amazon (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36295556)

This is how MS became what it is. If they didnt have it, they acquired it. Usually they wouldnt grab the 'best of breed' ones they grab a also ran player and make it best of breed.

Online is decent but it is not 100% of where it is at. There is still a huge market for 'offline'. Not everyone has a 50MB symmetrical fiber line to their house. Oh dont get me wrong online things will help them. But not nearly as much as people think. There have been very few serious successes in the online market. At least not at the scale MS needs to have it considered a success. The only ones I can think of are the ones you mentioned and maybe oracle, oh and google. The rest have withered and died and are not around anymore in any real sense.

When people talk about MS being stagnant they are talking really about the stock price. Flat since the handover. They have too many shares outstanding and a management that is seen as slow and lumbering. They are still wildly profitable and little debt load. MS was Bill gates. That is why people are wanting him back. He was not very technically innovative. But as a businessman he is ruthless. That is in their DNA. Without the head it is being torn apart by the infighting and morass that has seized them.

Re:amazon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36295690)

Amazon's market cap as of today is $88 billion, eBay is $40 billion. Factor in a 50 percent markup and I don't think even Microsoft has that kind of money. And it would have to be a friendly merger, and I'm sure Amazon, for one, would not be interested. Not sure about eBay, but why would MS blow their entire cash hoard on that? What platform does MS get out of it that synergizes with the rest of what they're offering?

Re:amazon (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#36295840)

Well, they could use XBox and MS platform on wireless devices to go full Skype, and then connect Skype and PayPal to build an on-line/wireless payment system. As to the online retailer - they could build their own of-course, but it's easier to acquire a known one, like eBay and then build a sales platform, something like a retail specific OS platform and come up with some sort of p2p sales system. I don't know, maybe it's all crap.

Re:amazon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36295898)

Perhaps they could licence Google Wallet and Google Voice with a revenue share deal like they could have had with MSN before Ballmer got stabby. Save their cash, come to an under the table non-compete in the office and desktop OS market, those sort of things.

Re:amazon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36295866)

Peer to peer sales, whats that? Do you like mean I could buy stuff off other ebay users?

That would be like soooo cooool

Ballmer is not the problem. (3, Insightful)

miffo.swe (547642) | more than 2 years ago | (#36295446)

Its overly simplistic to put the blame on Ballmer since it was Bill Gates that got Microsoft under close scrutiny from monopoly enforcement agencies all over the world. Bill Gates was also the one that won Microsoft the biggest EU fine in history for Bills predatory practices.

What Ballmer has done is followed in Bill Gates footstep with so-so products sold by extremely hard marketing and very shoddy business practices. If anything Ballmer is just a bleaker version of Bill. The return of Bill Gates would just be about more pressure on OEMs, more underhanded deals and more of using the monopoly again.

Personally i would love it if Bill Gates took the helm as it would make Microsoft become irrelevant even faster than today. The mobile and computing industry at large is right now liquid mercury and the tighter Microsoft squeezes the sooner it will slip.

Typical Ryan Block Garbage (1)

Admodieus (918728) | more than 2 years ago | (#36295462)

He says Bill Gates needs to come back, and then states Gates listened to J Allard about the Xbox, Microsoft's only real consumer success story in the last decade. Doesn't that mean that maybe J Allard should be the new CEO of Microsoft? Or can Block not connect the dots he himself puts down on the paper?

Re:Typical Ryan Block Garbage (1)

miffo.swe (547642) | more than 2 years ago | (#36295554)

Xbox still has a long way to go before its profitable. There was some serious money sunk into it for a very long time before it even broke even.

If you want Bill Gates to be Steve Jobs (4, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#36295470)

I don't think you're getting what you think you are asking for.

These are large crude parallels being drawn here: "Steve Jobs returned to Apple and saved it" is an interesting story, but Apple's story is certainly exceedingly unique.

Not many companies crawl back from hasbeens to dominance. Apple was a joke in the 1990s, a shell of its former '80s self. The natural arc is to go from dominance to hasbeen. This is Microsoft's fate. Google's. Facebook's. etc. Apple is the weird exception, not the rule, and I wouldn't let its experience try to teach us anything. It's like seeing someone hit the lottery and trying to figure out how they did and repeat that. No, Apple is a pretty unique story in technology and business. Microsoft can't find their Steve Jobs in Bill Gates.

Re:If you want Bill Gates to be Steve Jobs (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 2 years ago | (#36295538)

In a sense, Steve Jobs renovated the shell of 20th century Apple to create 21st century Apple. The current version only really owes elements of the MacOS UI to the original macintosh. So Apple didn't really survive the revival.

exactly (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#36295678)

to further the parallel, you would be asking bill gates to come back and somehow microsoft becomes a force that kills the cable giants and netflix as everyone moves to their boxes for television and movie content. and this is what microsoft becomes known for in the late 2010s

someone's going to converge the internet and the traditional cable company's market space, it could be microsoft. and then to complete the parallel to apple's story, windows 8 or 9 or 10 etc becomes a has been as Google OS takes over that space. or something like that

oh wait, didn't they just buy skype? there's another internet/ traditional phone company convergence story that hasn't played out yet. maybe that's what the minds at microsoft are hoping to do steve jobs style in terms of reinventing microsoft

could happen, who knows. or apple could master the telephone/ internet convergence or cable/ internet convergence. or google. who knows

Re:If you want Bill Gates to be Steve Jobs (1)

careysub (976506) | more than 2 years ago | (#36295694)

In a sense, Steve Jobs renovated the shell of 20th century Apple to create 21st century Apple. The current version only really owes elements of the MacOS UI to the original macintosh. So Apple didn't really survive the revival.

So was the 70s Apple dead in the 80s, since the Mac owed nothing to speak of to the Apple I/II? There may be a case for your claim, but the lack of a direct descendant of the original MacOS in the current product lineup isn't it. (I acknowledge that a case can be made that the original Apple start-up did not survive into the 80s, but what start-up organization does survive its growth into a multinational?)

Re:If you want Bill Gates to be Steve Jobs (0)

chemicaldave (1776600) | more than 2 years ago | (#36296070)

Apple was a joke in the 1990s, a shell of its former '80s self.

Profitability aside, it still is.

It'll be Stephen Elop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36295480)

He knows Microsoft and he knows phones. BTW Ballmer did not exactly looked thrilled in the traditional photo after the big deal with Nokia was signed.

The board will probably look at Eric Schmidt as well, and pass.

I don't work at MS and don't know Steve Sinofsky (Windows chief), but my guess is he's too much of an MS insider to make a clean break with the past.

Bill Gates has moved on, and so has the IT industry. Not a good fit. Same with people like Scott McNealy, Jeff Raikes. These are all Cold War veterans of the '90s.

Microsoft's Mistake not promoting Ray Ozzie (2)

haplo21112 (184264) | more than 2 years ago | (#36295488)

This was the man that should have taken the reigns of Microsoft by now. Instead he has left the company. He was a worthy successor to Gates in drive and vision.

Re:Microsoft's Mistake not promoting Ray Ozzie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36295572)

Ray Ozzie + J Allard would have been a formidable leadership duo (assuming they didn't kill each other first).

Re:Microsoft's Mistake not promoting Ray Ozzie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36295910)

Nope. I've worked for Ray. He's a nice guy and gets collaboration but totally is dominated by a crew of yes men that has paraded around him moving from Iris, to Lotus, to Groove and to Microsoft.

Better than Ballmer (1)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 2 years ago | (#36295502)

Gates would be a better option than Ballmer but that's faint praise. My dog would do a better job than Ballmer. There are certainly better options out there. People with the ability to gut the entrenched internal bureaucracy and drag Microsoft into the modern world of technology.

The age of $150 operating systems running on an $800 desktop with $400 productivity software are drawing to a close. If Microsoft wants to stay relevant, they need new ideas that come from people who aren't being stifled by mid-level managers steeped in last week's technology.

Re:Better than Ballmer (1)

BreezeC (2040184) | more than 2 years ago | (#36295900)

I don't think Gates will come back.He has left.
Can he make microsoft success?
If not?

Re:Better than Ballmer (1)

Ice Tiger (10883) | more than 2 years ago | (#36295948)

Totally agree, my move away from MS desktop PC products has been driven by price as they don't have magnitudes of added value compared to their competitors in order to justify the additional expense.

As someone who is seen as the local 'IT Guy' by friends and family this has also resulted in their machines moving away from MS products too. Microsoft need to maybe look at Steam and learn about how to price things.

I'm puzzled (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#36295512)

So why do they think Bill Gates would be better? The key problem is simply that Microsoft depends on two, long in the tooth products (Windows and Office) for most of its revenue. That's not going to change one bit, if Gates returned to Microsoft.

And if I were in Gates's shoes, I'd rather that Balmer had the thankless task of trying to find a new Windows/Office complex while I slowly sold off my Microsoft stock. That seems to be what happened.

Re:I'm puzzled (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36295922)

So why do they think Bill Gates would be better? The key problem is simply that Microsoft depends on two, long in the tooth products (Windows and Office) for most of its revenue.

Translation: Microsoft suffers from a total lack of strategic vision.

Having a skilled-but-vision-less bureaucrat as a CEO will grow a company's stock only so far, and we've got some stark examples of how important "the vision thing" is in the tech industry. Gates' strategic vision was always somewhat myopic--just read "The Road Ahead" to see how hit-and-miss he could be--but he had enough when combined with his brilliant business skills to turn MS into a leviathan. Love him or hate him, Steve Jobs is the avatar of strategic vision and Apple's stock price reflects that. Most of Eric Schmidt's attempts to expand Google into profitable areas beyond search floundered (Android was his one big success).

Microsoft's ten year stock performance shows that Ballmer might as well be blind for all the strategic vision he's got.

Chairs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36295542)

Bill Gates taking the reins away from Ballmer might not solve the company's problems, but it would probably reduce the amount of overall chair-throwing.

And if he wanted to help MS *and* philantropy... (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 2 years ago | (#36295558)

He'd dedicated the company to developing scalable, human-like artificial intelligence. He'd dominate the computer industry AND get those who need aid by getting answers to all questions for which there are answers.

Re:And if he wanted to help MS *and* philantropy.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36295692)

He'd dedicated the company to developing scalable, human-like artificial intelligence. He'd dominate the computer industry AND get those who need aid by getting answers to all questions for which there are answers.

And if he dies before they can upload him into it, he wants everyone to know that they're to upload his secretary instead, and she can run the company.

actually (4, Insightful)

ludomancer (921940) | more than 2 years ago | (#36295560)

I'd rather they just go out of business. It is long overdue.

Re:actually (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36295852)

I don't know, Microsoft has spent a lot of money on researching the user experience. A lot of their software has a better interface than anything else (I say this as someone who only ever runs Windows when I have to in a VM from my Linux workstation). Without that the "other" softwares wouldn't have anything to mimic and would probably be pretty awful. Just think of how much more worse Unity/GNOME3/KDE would be if left to their own devices (as can be witnessed by their recent forays into trying to do their own thing).

The same could be said for user interface hardware like keyboards, mice, and gaming devices. The Microsoft hardware division has always been pretty damn good (although less so in recent years; a Ballmer effect?).

Mark Russinovich! (3, Interesting)

fluor2 (242824) | more than 2 years ago | (#36295598)

I vote for Mark [wikimedia.org] ! He is an excellent and awesome technical fellow that has impressed me a number of times. It's time for Microsoft to learn from Google; let the engineers take control again.

MS has no future (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36295606)

As the world moves to a post-PC era, Microsoft has no more advantage from their OS monopoly. They have no future. People are sick of dealing with the epic mess of PCs, and are moving to mobile devices and iPads faster than Apple can build them.

There's no future for Microsoft. Their only advantage was that most software was written against Windows. That advantage means nothing in a post-PC world.

If you think this isn't true... dream on. Apple is now the most valuable tech company on the planet, and it isn't because they are selling PCs. It's because they are selling mobile devices that people love, unlike Microsoft that sells things people hate but always had to buy before. Now there is a viable alternative, and people are flocking to it by the millions.

Dear Steve Ballmer (2)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#36295620)

Thank you for making our jobs easier by continuing to pursue bad products with bad management. When we saw your pitiful attempt at a search engine, we laughed until our sides split.

Sincerely,
Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison, Larry Page, and Sergei Brin

What? They are making money hand over fist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36295626)

Doesn't even HTC pay them $5 for every android handset (I think I read that here??). Ballmer, Gates, etc.. they are old farts, you've seen them before, the old fart walking down the road with a stain in his pants. People laugh, and they don't know why people are laughing at them!

There is so much ego now? Really Nerds have ego? Comon, grow up, learn to make your own money and your own decisions instead of playing "Board of Directors" for a company you'll never even probably get a chance to work for, let alone be on the board.

...a Messiah Aproach. (1)

martiniturbide (1203660) | more than 2 years ago | (#36295628)

I don't think that Bill Gates should be seen as the Microsoft messiah. If it i something wrong with MS is the business model. 1) The operating system had come a software commodity with time. Now people uses a varaity of OS and didn't feel excluded like it was happening on the 80's and 90's. So MS has to understand that with the OS is no longer going to make a lot of money like before. 2) The office suite is also becoming a commodity. Office will slow down and eventually will stop being the cash cow. Software licensing for the consumer is not what is used to be on the 80's and 90's. They have to deal with that first. So, Bill Gates is going to show up and change that? no, a change of business model is going to help MS, not the messiah.

The best way to fix Microsoft (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 2 years ago | (#36295676)

The best way to fix Microsoft is to go through all the senior execs office and replace their 1998 desk calendars with something a bit more recent.... Seriously based on both ex Microsoft employees testimony and their product line(large numbers of different, incompatible products aimed towards the same market), Microsoft execs don't seem to realize that it's no longer 1998 and they have real external competition. Most Microsoft senior execs seem to be too busy sniping at each other than they are at trying to create something that bests their competitors' products.

Microsoft needs much more than a change at the top (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36295680)

Having seen Microsoft in action close up, I've drawn the conclusion that a change in the executive ranks will not reverse its decline in prominence and industry leadership over the last decade.

True it does need bold leadership to see and promote a world beyond a Windows OS plus Office centric one, and that would be a start. But it needs an internal culture change even more.

Microsoft doesn't lack for incredibly smart, talented and capable people, though it is losing its best at a rate that would alarm most other companies. But it's internal culture of fixed winners, losers, and rewards, and individual performance over that of teams and/or product have resulted in an incredibly political and process-heavy environment where employees see each other, and not other companies or products, as their competition, and their energies and efforts are (mis-)focused accordingly. Until they address this, I believe Microsoft will be unable to be anywhere as efficient or agile as its competition.

Is Gates the cure or the cause? (1)

QuietLagoon (813062) | more than 2 years ago | (#36295730)

The reason Microsoft is in the current downward-spiraling condition is due to Bill Gates. He completely missed the onset of the Internet. He had to release a second version of his book, The Road Ahead in order to mention the Internet, as he ignored the widespread ramifications of the Internet the first time around. Innovation during his tenure was minimal, if existent at all.

.
What Microsoft needs now is a real visionary, not a phony one who built a company on borderline-illegal business practices.

I say, sure bring back Bill Gates. That would finish Microsoft off for good.

Steve Balmer is Obviously the Wrong Guy? (1)

aoeu (532208) | more than 2 years ago | (#36295748)

Really? Did Windows 7 suck without telling anyone?

Bill Gates is the one who screwed MS (1)

alen (225700) | more than 2 years ago | (#36295754)

seriously this is the guy who 10 years ago was preaching "consistent user experience" for mobile devices. he had vision to put windows on mobile devices but screwed it up buy trying to jam a desktop GUI on a tiny screen.

MS needs some fresh blood. Ballmer has been there almost as long as gates and paul allen founded the company. they need someone with no PC baggage to lead the company

The smartest thing Bill Gates ever did... (1)

Goonie (8651) | more than 2 years ago | (#36295860)

...was stop running Microsoft.

History is littered with wildly successful startup companies turning into boring ones. It happened to Xerox. It happened to Apple. It happened to Microsoft. And it will happen to Google and Facebook too, to pick the current companies of the moment.

Gates was, I think, smart enough to realize this and found something more exciting to do with his time than run a boring office products company.

It probably doesn't matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36295864)

Companies can re-invent themselves: IBM, Apple for instance. That isn't usually the case though. Most companies have a life cycle and eventually decay and die. Nothing Bill Gates is likely to do will change that.

Note that I said "likely". There are things Bill Gates could do that would be brilliant and allow Microsoft to prosper and take over the world. I don't know what those things are and I'm betting that Bill Gates doesn't know either. ;-)

Sigh (1)

slasho81 (455509) | more than 2 years ago | (#36295892)

Microsoft has 90,000 employees. Apple has 50,000. Both founded in the mid 70s. People who think companies of this scale and maturity rise or fall based on their CEO have no idea how organizations work. Slashdot should not give attention to bloggers offering solutions which are simplistic, ignorant, and arrogant.

Who needs to be running Microsoft? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36295988)

Steven Wright

Just imagine it: "Developers

developers

developers..."

Gates is overrated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36296084)

BillG was never even the architect of MS DOS/Windows success. That success was born from the cracking of the IBM PC's ROM BIOS. That is what made the clones possible and it was the clones that made Microsoft. Bill just went along for the ride. Gates' fabled aversion to ethics may well stem from his insecurities; he knows it was blind luck that made him the world's richest man.

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