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Maybe Steve Ballmer Doesn't Deserve the Hate

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the easy-to-criticize-a-caricature dept.

Microsoft 240

Nerval's Lobster writes "Who could forget Steve Ballmer's defining moment, that infamous 'Developers! Developers! Developers!' rant that became a YouTube hit? Or the reports of frighteningly accurate chair-throwing? Who could miss the tech media and investors blaming him for everything from Microsoft's largely stagnant stock price over the past decade to its inability to get in front of trends such as mobile devices? But tech columnist (and Kernel editor-in-chief) Milo Yiannopoulos talked to a bunch of Ballmer's friends and colleagues, picked through Microsoft's history, and came away with the argument that the man deserves a second look as an effective leader. 'He stands accused of running one of the greatest companies in American history into the ground, even as its stock price remains remarkably resilient and the company continues to turn a healthy profit,' he writes. 'The mature verdict on Steve Ballmer is that he has made only one major strategic error: not combining his own brilliance for sales and detail with a visionary product leader who has the authority to create bold new revenue streams for the company.' Do you agree? Or does Ballmer deserve his reputation as a bad CEO?"

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About your Thesis... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44265359)

Nah..!

Re:About your Thesis... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44265447)

He's a jackass even for a CEO.

Re:About your Thesis... (4, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | about a year ago | (#44266399)

Not just that, but the company has been largely coasting since Bill left. The reorganization is well over due.

Ultimately, they had a winner with 7, and chucked all the gains that they made with 8. Considering how important Windows still is to their bottom line, they should have been more mindful to evolve the product rather than chucking everything out.

They've also been doing abysmally at entering new markets since sometime in the mid '90s, and probably before that. Which hasn't improved under his watch. The XBox was the last successful entrance that they've made into a new arena. The Zune, windows phones and their other attempts haven't gone very well.

The share price itself is largely a reflection of the fact that they're still hugely profitable, albeit heavily dependent upon one or two product lines which are likely to be in trouble in the future if they can't enter new areas.

Maybe... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44265363)

But he probably does.

He deserves it (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44265387)

Or does Ballmer deserve his reputation as a bad CEO?

He's a bald CEO, there's no denying it.

Oh wait, you said bad CEO. My mistake.

The company you keep (5, Insightful)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#44265395)

I tend to judge leaders by those they choose to surround themselves with. Delegating is one of the most important tasks any leader or executive has, and choosing to whom you will be doing so is the most vital decision they can make.

Therefore, I refuse to judge Ballmer as a leader, since I haven't really examined who he keeps company with. However, I still generally dislike Microsoft's products and strategies.

Re:The company you keep (0)

Reverand Dave (1959652) | about a year ago | (#44265413)

Funny, you're the only reasonable response and you're the only non ac in the thread yet...

Re:The company you keep (4, Informative)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about a year ago | (#44265525)

Look at his right-hand man, Kevin Turner. Human waste on legs.

Look who he ran off, before anointing Turner: Kevin Johnston. Actually decent.

Balmer also flushed good guys like Allchin and Maritz, or drove them away. While toadies live Valentine were perked.

The best of the remaining lot hangs out a tier away from the stink. God bless Bill Laing. Actual good human being, and a pleasure to work with.

Re:The company you keep (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44265629)

Look at his right-hand man, Kevin Turner. Human waste on legs.

Look who he ran off, before anointing Turner: Kevin Johnston. Actually decent.

Balmer also flushed good guys like Allchin and Maritz, or drove them away. While toadies live Valentine were perked.

The best of the remaining lot hangs out a tier away from the stink. God bless Bill Laing. Actual good human being, and a pleasure to work with.

For those of us who DON'T passionately follow the minutia of Microsoft's internal management and political issues and who generally tend to glaze over news about their VPs/middle managers as if they WEREN'T the most fascinating people with the most compelling stories to tell, what you did there was throw up a bunch of generic names that very, very few people could possibly recognize or care about. Would you please provide more detail as to who these people are, what they did, and why we should care, all while keeping in mind that the fact that we don't currently care about any of them means we're not at all compelled to waste our time justifying your personal corporate obsessions by Googling their names?

Re:The company you keep (5, Interesting)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about a year ago | (#44265751)

If you don't own a fair amount of MSFT stock or make million-dollar IT contract purchases? Why should you then care?

If you do, then these names are at least passing familiarity.

The whole article is a parlour game, even if you do own or buy significantly. Yes, Ballmer is shite. No, he's not going anywhere... Ever.

Re:The company you keep (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44266299)

> If you don't own a fair amount of MSFT stock or make million-dollar IT contract purchases? Why should you then care?

This is the upper leadership of Microsoft, whose products have an impact on your day to day life whether you use the products yourself or not.

captcha: restrict

Re:The company you keep (1, Insightful)

certain death (947081) | about a year ago | (#44265819)

I wish I had some mod points, I would give them ALL to you!

Re:The company you keep (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44266159)

You're responde should be a close line to this argument. Why? Lets see:

The GP posted a very valid point: the company you keep is what will, in the essence, judge your leadership. Delegating IS the most important power in a leadership position. So, we come to your response. You are right, no one knows who the names thrown into the post are. But people do know several names from Apple or Google (even from facebook and yahoo, but not many people nor many names). Not knowing the names of the important people in leadership position in a company is normal for smaller companies, not really for companies such as those.

Re:The company you keep (0)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about a year ago | (#44265667)

If he wants redemption, all he needs to do is to create The Steve and Connie Ballmer Foundation. He has plenty of cash.

Then the foundation can build toilets for folks in Africa, and cure diseases, and stuff. How about curing AIDS? That one's been kicking around for a while, waiting for somebody to do something about it.

Cure that, and it will by you plenty of love, instead of hate.

Re:The company you keep (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44265845)

There will be no more curing of diseases BG style. BG grabbed the only cure that isn't protected by IP laws.

Re:The company you keep (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44266371)

Cure that, and it will by you plenty of love, instead of hate.

You mean in addition to hate. Complexity is good for your characters. Let him cure AIDS. That won't wipe away the fact that he totally failed to say "fuck you and die" when Microsoft approached him, but wiping such things away isn't desirable. Jaime Lannister is still an asshole, even after you have sympathy for him. And that's why you keep reading.

Re:The company you keep (1, Insightful)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#44265695)

the only company he keeps for keeps is bill - or rather bill keeps him. that's why you haven't examined who he keeps company with, because he doesn't.

"I love him! but don't mention my name on the article!" smells, you know. it smells of poo. if a guy needs a orientation session for every meeting, you can guess why he doesn't sleep much and has to work constantly despite not having a hand in the actual work... and if he really combs everything with a fine tooth then fuck him, fuck him for nsa, fuck him for death of sidewinder ff pro, fuck him for letting FASA games decline, fuck him for pushing kinect for steel battalion and fuck him for windows 8 - and praise for the keyboards and mice(not the arc, that things a kick in the nuts).

oh and triple fuck him for not fixing windows phone in so fucking many years and fuck him for not killing zune and turning it into winfucks phone and then lying that he didn't.

yeah, that's the problem with him as CEO. more than half the stuff MS has done in the past decade has been real fuck bombs and the good stuff would have happened without him doing anything. sure, he could have fucked up a lot more too. sure as a human being he might fart roses and give ample support for his employees but the fuck do I care since I don't work for him, I just need to use his products and would gladly pay for better products.

oh and real classy not judging him as a ceo but saying that you dislike what he does as a ceo(product decisions and strategy).

Re: The company you keep (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44266181)

Amen.

That's part of my issue - they make mistakes that are very frustrating for users (even more for IT people) that would be so easy to fix. It didn't take that much effort for someone else to make a start menu type app for windows 8. They're making good money each quarter, they could afford to make something like sidewinder at a small loss to help the MS brand have a good reputation in lots of different market segments. That seems to be the difference to me - they don't care about customer satisfaction, and for me that kind of cultural issue comes from the top.

Other companies cause problems for customers too - like the iPhone 5 maps app - I didn't get the feeling that was caused because apple said "screw you, customers, you don't matter anyway".

Re:The company you keep (3, Interesting)

Threni (635302) | about a year ago | (#44265709)

> I tend to judge leaders by those they choose to surround themselves with

Hmm. If the company tanks, no-one's going to remember those other people. Or the company, ultimately. In business, it's just profit that counts - keeping the company going, making products people want (or need). Currently, Microsoft don't seem to be doing very well, hence the falling PC sales, price cuts on Microsoft's overpriced tablets with poor battery life etc, shocking Windows 8 sales to which Microsoft reluctantly conceded needed a change so that people could actually use them the way they were used to etc. More time is needed to see if Microsoft can recover from these decisions or if the decline he's ruled over will continue until Microsoft exit the stage.

Re:The company you keep (2)

hedwards (940851) | about a year ago | (#44266419)

The CEO sets the priorities and the big picture stuff for the corporations and leaves it up to the other executives to actually make it happen.

When you have a company like MS that doesn't seem to have a particular vision, that reflects poorly on the CEO as it means that something is getting screwed up. Either he doesn't have one, isn't effectively communicating it or the marketing department isn't adequately communicating it to the world.

But, considering that MS has largely failed to do much more than maintain the status quo, it's pretty clear that the people he's keeping company with aren't getting things done. MS has a ton of great R&D going on, but very little ever seems to make it into a product. And when it does they tend to screw it up by making it brown or otherwise unpalatable.

As much as I hated the Apple of the latter half of the noughties, the fact is that Steve understood that and spent a lot more time and energy on making sure that people knew what Apple was about and that the products they released expanded upon that, rather than entering into random arenas with little commitment or focus.

Hard to argue with regular quarterly profits (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44265399)

Many of which are usually a record for the company, even if it's a company that hasn't used it's brilliant engineering talent to maximum effect. Oh wait, this is /. uh, Microsoft is Satan, all hail our savior lord FOSS.

Re:Hard to argue with regular quarterly profits (4, Insightful)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year ago | (#44265421)

Slashdot, where Microsoft is Satan, Google is Evil, Apple is the Devil and open-source projects are pointless because thousands of programmers pulling in different directions.

Re:Hard to argue with regular quarterly profits (4, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#44265529)

and open-source projects are pointless because thousands of programmers pulling in different directions.

Just like the universe is pointless because thousands of galaxy clusters pull in different directions...hey, wait a minute...

Re:Hard to argue with regular quarterly profits (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44266569)

and open-source projects are pointless because thousands of programmers pulling in different directions.

Just like the universe is pointless because thousands of galaxy clusters pull in different directions...hey, wait a minute...

The universe is pointless. There's no goal "success" state so there isn't a point to it, it just is.

Re:Hard to argue with regular quarterly profits (1)

Spy Handler (822350) | about a year ago | (#44265635)

I'm sure those profits were a direct result of Ballmer himself appearing on TV ads and pitching Windows.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sforhbLiwLA [youtube.com]

Or maybe not.

Steve is that you? (5, Funny)

waddgodd (34934) | about a year ago | (#44265409)

I think we found out Steve Ballmer's /. account name

Bad CEO (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44265419)

No IF's, AND's, or BUT's, Worst CEO ever!

Re:Bad CEO (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44265543)

AC, we don't care what you think.

Re:Bad CEO (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44266055)

Heh...he might've held that title until someone convinced Darl McBride and SCOx to go after IBM over "infringements" on SCOX's "IP" that IBM did when they shared parts of AIX with Linux. And he's still probably a low piker compared to Carly Fiorina. Carly's clearly able to show him a thing or two on wrecking a company...

IF Ballsy's wanting tips on how to claim the title of "Worst CEO", he probably needs to get 'em from Darl or Carly....

What? (5, Insightful)

Antipater (2053064) | about a year ago | (#44265427)

. 'The mature verdict on Steve Ballmer is that he has made only one major strategic error: not combining his own brilliance for sales and detail with a visionary product leader who has the authority to create bold new revenue streams for the company.'

I don't know a thing about Ballmer - I don't follow corporate politics. But if you dig through all the marketing-speak there, didn't that just say "Ballmer's one major error as a CEO was not doing that thing that CEOs should be doing"?

Re:What? (4, Insightful)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | about a year ago | (#44265497)

I see Ballmer as the captain of a large, very slowly sinking, rudderless ship.
Someone needs to patch up the holes, find a pump, and build a rudder. I just don't see Ballmer doing any of those things.

Re:What? (2)

FuegoFuerte (247200) | about a year ago | (#44265545)

What do you mean rudderless? Of course it has a rudder... it's just hard over to one side, and the control cable is broken.

Re:What? (2)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | about a year ago | (#44266285)

That is not a rudder. It used to be a chair. :)

Re: What? (1)

jd2112 (1535857) | about a year ago | (#44266251)

That is because Apple isn't doing those things. Of course Apple doesn't need to.

Re:What? (4, Insightful)

webdog314 (960286) | about a year ago | (#44265535)

And given that Microsoft has an 80%+ marketshare, a "largely stagnant stock price" could have been pretty much achieved by doing absolutely nothing, which, when you look at the company over the last decade, isn't far from the truth.

So it begs the question: what in the world are they paying him for?

Re:What? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44265759)

Most wealthy people are the children of wealthy people, so Ballmer's accomplishment that "could have been pretty much achieved by doing absolutely nothing" has to be valued by most board members and large stockholders unless they're self-loathing.

Re:Microsoft has an 80%+ marketshare (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44266197)

Are you talking 80%+ marketshare in America?

Do some research..... it's now down to 20% and falling fast world wide,

Re:What? (3, Interesting)

thegarbz (1787294) | about a year ago | (#44266349)

And given that Microsoft has an 80%+ marketshare, a "largely stagnant stock price" could have been pretty much achieved by doing absolutely nothing, which, when you look at the company over the last decade, isn't far from the truth.

This! Too big to fail doesn't only apply to corporate bail-outs. It also means that massive companies can ride through one period after the other of colossally stupid mistakes. If you split Microsoft up into various division then take a look at where the money is coming from, the company is surviving on it's monopoly and cash cows Windows and Office, and neither of those can be attributed to Steve Ballmer.

We can attribute to him everything else at Microsoft. Unfortunately all those things seem to be making a loss. Search, mobile, entertainment, all of these things are what Ballmer has been pushing for in the past few years while letting the Windows and Office divisions rot and all of them can at this point be considered a failure.

Now the real question is, given Ballmer's fetish for trying to one-up Apple and screwing Windows in the process will the company continue to survive on it's old cash cow, or will he let that slip through his hands? Honestly I don't know what the board of directors is thinking supporting the drunk at the wheel.

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44266505)

Simple! To ensure the government haz all ur secrets... After all that's the job of a big company to crawl in bed with the government and work together to smash any real competition.

Re:What? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44266339)

For those of us who actually have a hard time with this sort of thing, I pitched in the effort, and after a few minutes, I present my parsing of that quote.

...Steve Ballmer ... made ... [a] major ... error: not combining ... sales ... with ... product ... to create ... revenue ... for the company.

I completely agree with OP based on this reading.

"The Kernel" is a joke (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44265479)

...and Milo Yiannopoulos is an idiot. The kind of right wing idiot they would laud any CEO just out of bootlicking habit.

On his watch (5, Insightful)

istartedi (132515) | about a year ago | (#44265483)

It all happened on his watch. The buck has to stop somewhere--at the top. That's how it works. If some VP was causing problems, it was his responsibility to get rid of that VP. If it was a particularly bad market for tech, that's not his fault; but it wasn't a particularly bad market. Other companies innovated and grew. They didn't. The whole strategy became, "let's make lame Apple clones that will piss off people who prefer the traditional Windows way, and won't convert people who prefer the Apple way".

I just don't see how the man at the top can escape responsibility for all that.

Re:On his watch (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44265589)

Bingo!

The perfect example of Ballmer's terrible judgment and arrogance is trying to force-feed the Metro UI on non-touch desktop and laptop users. How anyone running a huge software company could fail to understand something as simple as "one size doesn't always fit all" is mind blowing. Whoever came up with that idea, whether it was Ballmer or someone else at MS, should be fired or put in charge of fixing it the right way, i.e. not just cosmetically adding the Start button to 8.1, but giving the user a way to permanently avoid the Metro UI.

Re:On his watch (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#44265739)

well. how he came to that conclusion was pretty simple. he saw the statistics for pc software sales and thought that 30% of that money is a large sum, that's the larger strategy behind metro and literally giving money to developers to jump ship to it.

Re:On his watch (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about a year ago | (#44266329)

Oh I personally contribute Metro to malice rather than incompetence. See MS' latest foray into mobile and tablets would suffer the same fate as Zune where what MS offered was slightly different than Apple/Android but not enough to get them many users and correspondingly developers. By forcing Metro onto the desktop, users have no choice and sooner or later the developers. It was their way of solving the chicken and egg problem.

Re:On his watch (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44265615)

Large public companies are driven by the stock, as the post says, stock prices have been solid (not growing) but solid which is a HUGE accomplishment in the era of fiscal crisis. Plus, there is nothing on their balance sheet that makes you think the company is going anywhere

Re:On his watch (1)

istartedi (132515) | about a year ago | (#44265795)

If you compare MSFT to the S&P 500 during Balmer's reign it's essentially the same. During the same time period, AAPL soared. Charting back further is interesting. On most comparisons (including the S&P) MSFT is soaring and everything else is flat at the bottom. The transition occurs right around 2000. It's easy to blame that on the economy except... the one company that doesn't look like a pancake next to MSFT during this period is AAPL. After 2000, AAPL takes off and makes up for lost time, almost equaling an investment in MSFT. Having 20/20 hindsight we see that the killer play was to buy MSFT in 1990 and then trade it all for AAPL in 2000. OTOH, charting vs. HPQ makes Ballmer look like a genius. So. He's no Gates or Jobs, but I'll give him this: he's not a Carly.

Hewlett Packard had intense competition. (2)

mbkennel (97636) | about a year ago | (#44265857)

Microsoft had a near monopoly. Like IBM for many years with lousy management---the recurring revenues coming in from backward compatibility let mediocrity evade responsibility.

One thing is true, Ballmer did not ram through a value-destroying merger over the objections of Gates, for instance the way Fiorina did with HP.

But the destruction of valued corporate culture is the same.

Re:On his watch (1)

OneAhead (1495535) | about a year ago | (#44266245)

See, I may be naive, but I always assumed that the CEO is neither the only nor (in most cases) the most important factor determining stock price.

Re:On his watch (1)

Elbereth (58257) | about a year ago | (#44265657)

Sounds a lot like Mozilla's attempts to clone everything that Google does, except in a half-assed way. Kind of funny, really, because I hadn't actually thought to connect Steve Ballmer and Asa Dotzler like that before. When you think about it, though, they seem pretty similar. Neither Microsoft nor Mozilla seem terribly interested in actually doing anything until Apple/Google do it first.

Stack ranking? (2)

berchca (414155) | about a year ago | (#44265489)

There are always two sides to every argument, but this one is particularly damning:
http://www.vanityfair.com/online/daily/2012/07/microsoft-downfall-emails-steve-ballmer

(Kurt Eichenwald traces the “astonishingly foolish management decisions” at the company that “could serve as a business-school case study on the pitfalls of success.”)

Maybe a bad leader/manager? (1)

ImdatS (958642) | about a year ago | (#44265491)

Basically, a good leader/manager tries to find the best possible people for his organization to get things done. It is not necessarily his own job to do things himself, but rather to find the right people, promote, coach and help them to deliver the best possible results.

So, if it's true that Ballmer didn't have a good product guy next to him, then it would be his fault as he is the President & CEO of the company, i.e. he is the ultimate decision-maker for hiring such a person.

Either he didn't see the need (which means he is a bad manager), he couldn't find someone (bad manager, too) or he didn't want such a person next to him (a very bad leader).

In any case, as I always tell my people: If an employee doesn't perform, it is not necessarily his fault but rather his boss's - because his boss is the one who either hired him/her or decided to keep him/her at the current position.

There are only very few tasks that a manager needs to do, among of the most important ones are defining the tasks to be done to deliver a specific result, define a job description for it and find the right person/assign the person to do that task. After that, it is the responsibility of the manager to make sure that that person can deliver - by creating the environment needed.

This might sounds overtly "optimistic", but this has always been what I believed in what a good manager is... (apart from some other tasks, that are less relevant)...

So, with that definition in mind, I would say that Ballmer was not a good CEO - nor a particularly bad one either as he didn't manage to bankrupt MS. He is/was just a mediocre one...

Re:Maybe a bad leader/manager? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44265641)

A CEO's "boss" the the board and they are more concerned with corporate health than anything else. In that regard, Microsoft is in perfect health. They weathered the fiscal crisis with a strong balance sheet and they don't have to worry about making a huge return on cash on hand (like Apple does) to make the investors happy. MS relied a LOT on income from enterprise customers and those customers dried up during the fiscal mess. Microsoft is like 90% of other software companies out there, everybody wants them to be produce visionaries... There just aren't many of those out there.

CEO Level (1)

war4peace (1628283) | about a year ago | (#44265495)

Every man makes mistakes, that's for sure. But we're talking CEO-level here, which means "best of the best". Any small mistake that would otherwise pass unnoticed or with minimal impact at lower levels would turn into a disaster if you're a CEO.

Ballmer can be a good manager, even a good VP. But CEO is a different league.

It's the difference between driving a car or a plane: if you flip the car lights switch instead of honking, it's no biggie, but if you drive a plane with 300 people and pull out the landing gear too late, there's going to be dead people littering the airport runway.

Re:CEO Level (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44266409)

But we're talking CEO-level here, which means "best of the best".

In no way does it mean "the best of the best," but it's interesting that you think so.

Bad CEO? No. (5, Interesting)

Bob9113 (14996) | about a year ago | (#44265499)

does Ballmer deserve his reputation as a bad CEO?

Bad CEO? Throwing chairs, browbeating your employees, prioritizing squeezing your customer over making a quality product, bribing government officials all over the world to expand your regulatory monopolies while preaching laissez-faire extremism to excuse cheating on your taxes -- those things don't necessarily make you a bad CEO. By the quarterly profit measure, they make you a good one. Those things don't make you a bad CEO; they make you a bad person.

Re:Bad CEO? No. (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about a year ago | (#44265961)

http://stratechery.com/2013/why-microsofts-reorganization-is-a-bad-idea/ [stratechery.com]

Perhaps judge him on the basis of what he should be doing as a CEO then? That article has some of the best insight into Ballmer's latest move that I've seen so far, and it indicates that he's way off-base.

Biased, much? (5, Insightful)

whoever57 (658626) | about a year ago | (#44265501)

I expect some MS fanboi will mod me down for this, but:

We should begin in Silicon Valley, which resents Microsoftâ(TM)s chief executive at least in part because he has helped grow what the Internet industry has so rarely managed in all its decades of boom and bust: a stable, profitable company, built on a solid grasp of numbers and proven sales techniques, with wildly successful products that people actually pay for. Contrast that with social networking companies such as Twitter and Facebookâ"and of course Google, with its rapey contextual advertisingâ"all of which throw their users âoefreeâ toys but violate them with privacy-invading ad sales and user-data scandals. Microsoft can seem positively virtuous by comparison.

This is pure Microsoft talking points.

Given the most recent revelations about Microsoft, the author should be reconsidering that claim to Microsoft's virtue.

Re:Biased, much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44266041)

I expect some MS fanboi will mod me down for this, but:

There are MS fanboys?

Re:Biased, much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44266525)

Many of them, actually. Every now and then a flock shows up on /. - probably no more so than for AAPL or GOOG or anyone else, but they're out here nonetheless. A few months ago it seemed like every other story (not relating to MS, mind you) would feature one user in the comments who had only commented on that story ever, where each post was a trivial nod to the topic segueing into a paragraph of praise for Visual Studio in particular (Ex: posts like "Many people think trips to the moon are too expensive, but people also say Microsoft is too expensive, which is completely false because you get every piece of software for free just by signing up for a Microsoft One account, including Visual Studio, which is the best IDE for C++ I've ever used blah blah blah...").

Of course, the next question is "Is that a fanboy or a Web 2.0 Social Media Expert?"

Bad / good ? (0)

MondoGordo (2277808) | about a year ago | (#44265509)

I think you need to define what you mean by a good CEO. Is it stock price ? Overall corporate earning performance? Growing the company? Innovating? Being a good leader? Until you define what makes a CEO "good" no one can give a meaningful opinion.

Monty Phython (3, Interesting)

Starteck81 (917280) | about a year ago | (#44265513)

We found a CEO, may we burn him?!?

All kidding aside he is not a great or even good leader. If he was half as effective as Bill Gates MS would have have only lost half of the product wars that it has. He has perpetually missed the boat on emerging trends, and then tried to chase the boat down in a runabout with a 5HP outboard motor.

Dance while you can monkey boy (2)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | about a year ago | (#44265519)

I never understood why he was ridiculed for "developers developers" anyway. I don't remember the rest of the speech, but I doubt it was wrong. Platforms live and die based on how many apps they have.

It's kind of like that Howard Dean "yeargggg!" thing, something that sounds ridiculous out of context and is promoted by spiteful enemies for that reason.

Re:Dance while you can monkey boy (2)

whoever57 (658626) | about a year ago | (#44265579)

I never understood why he was ridiculed for "developers developers" anyway. I don't remember the rest of the speech

And you answered your own question -- you don't remember the rest of the speech.

The message may have been a good one, but the way it was presented invited ridicule and was so memorable that the only thing people remember is the way the message was presented and not the message itself.

One can infer from this that Ballmer either does not invite criticism or does not listen to criticism. A properly prepared person would have tried his moneky boy dance in advance in front of a small group of insiders who would have told him what a terrible idea it was.

But then, perhaps rehersals are not part of Microsoft's culture. Remember the Surface RT presentation in which the device crashed?

Re:Dance while you can monkey boy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44265581)

I'm gonna mod this funny, just because I laughed hysterically when I read "yeargggg!"

Re:Dance while you can monkey boy (1)

ed1park (100777) | about a year ago | (#44266469)

Did you watch the video? It looks ridiculous whether it's in or out of context. A fat sweaty bald man trying to pathetically stir up the audience with an uninspired chant as you hear his voice weakly give out. The sweat stains alone.... gag. Complete dork. He's like the anti Steve Jobs. They were both assholes, but at least Steve had charisma and vision, neither of which Ballmer is in possession of.

Why is a sales/marketing guy in charge of a technology company?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qycUOENFIBs [youtube.com]

Lemme guess. You probably have difficulty reading people and social situations. Or don't quite understand what makes something cool and often have jokes fly over your head. :)

Since I can't remember the quote I really wanted, I leave you with this:

"You should invest in a business that even a fool can run, because someday a fool will." - Warren Buffett

Re:Dance while you can monkey boy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44266555)

Or the infamous "Series of Tubes" comment, for that matter.

lol... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44265553)

Everything he has touched has turned to shit...

Doesn't deserve the hate if you invest in his competitors i guess...

Either way steve ballemer is still a chimp.

To Be Honest (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#44265557)

I don't really know much about Ballmer, or how he runs Microsoft. ... and I couldn't give a shit less; I don't work for MS or buy any of their products, so his policies, abilities, success/failure... doesn't really affect me.

I do, however, very much enjoy the jokes and memes that have resulted from Ballmer's tenure as CEO, especially the chair throwing incident. That shit was hilarious, if only because it actually happened.

obnoxious (1)

quonsar (61695) | about a year ago | (#44265559)

i always picture him where he belongs. hawking used cars on a low budget local tv commercial.

Not sure I really blame him (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about a year ago | (#44265573)

Specifically, that is. Microsoft's business strategy has been to crush upstarts with overwhelming force (even at a loss), then move on. My company had started working on Palm apps just as that tactic took effect. In the oughties, technology expanded so far that there were simply too many holes in the dike to plug. And, with mobile devices and broadband eating into the role of the desktop, MS doesn't have the money tree of Windows and Office giving them unlimited cash to throw around squashing mosquitoes. They really need to start being realistic about what kind of a niche they want to hold onto just as IBM has kept themselves relevant. They're still making tons of money, I just don't think they should keep on trying to hop on every passing train.

My level of caring is zero. (1)

brindafella (702231) | about a year ago | (#44265577)

> "Do you agree? Or does Ballmer deserve his reputation as a bad CEO?"

I have no opinion (about Ballmer). My level of caring is zero (about Ballmer).

I refuse to pay the "Micr$oft tax". I DO CARE about that.

I don't hate him. (2)

jcr (53032) | about a year ago | (#44265595)

Speaking as one who has a large part of my net worth invested in Apple shares, I am grateful to Mr. Ballmer for the job he's done over the last 13 years. I'm even more grateful to Jim Alchin, for botching the Window Longhorn project in a manner that was damned close to optimal for Apple's interests.

-jcr

If the man were as dumb as /. thinks... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44265599)

If the man were as dumb as /. thinks he is, monopoly or not, lock-in or not, M$ would have imploded years ago. Sun, Palm, Compaq, Blackberry, they all had leaders who took their eyes off the ball and pissed away their corporation's leadership position.

Ballmer's performance (2)

soft_guy (534437) | about a year ago | (#44265625)

I think that Ballmer is a decent operations guy, but obviously not a tech visionary, nor does he have good taste and an iron fist the way Steve Jobs did. I think that Microsoft was in a very strong position when he took over and that it just isn't that hard to keep Microsoft on its current glide path given a halfway decent operations guy in charge. John Sculley, who is widely viewed to have run Apple into the ground, could almost certainly done just as good of a job running Microsoft as Steve Ballmer. I realize this is speculation, but I think its true.

Culture of fear? (1)

MrBandersnatch (544818) | about a year ago | (#44265631)

I *hear* that MS has a culture of fear, where lower levels are basically expected to kowtow to the management line. A company without dissent and an environment where employees can air and discuss their opinions is VERY bad since decision making then lays in the hands of the select few, and when mistakes are being made, people are prevented from even pointing out those mistakes.

So far we've seen the disasters of Surface pro, Windows 8 metro, XBone, and I'm sure there are others I'm missing. That a company could have such a litany of product disasters suggests that the culture doesn't exist where *innovative & good* products can be made anymore (MS does have good products but these tend to be either their mainstays e.g. office, rebadged hardware).

The blame for this *has* to rest at the top.

Author mistakes momentum for success (1)

lusid1 (759898) | about a year ago | (#44265633)

" its stock price remains remarkably resilient and the company continues to turn a healthy profit"

That's not success, that's momentum. Under the current leadership, entropy will continue to take its toll.

He might be brilliant... (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about a year ago | (#44265637)

...but he seems to have a blind spot or two. The mistakes Microsoft has made this century appear to have two threads in common -- the overriding conviction that We Are Microsoft, You Will Buy Whatever We Release, and its corollary, We Know What You Need And What You Don't Need. (ME, Vista, any number of Windows tablet efforts, Win8, any version of Windows Phone.) They've gone too long being to all intents and purposes the only game in town, and it's affected their basic strategies. They're a corporate-driven company rather than a user-driven company, and when something substantially better becomes available, users will migrate. It might take awhile, but it does happen.

Stock Price Comparison (4, Interesting)

ScottCooperDotNet (929575) | about a year ago | (#44265647)

'He stands accused of running one of the greatest companies in American history into the ground, even as its stock price remains remarkably resilient and the company continues to turn a healthy profit,' he writes.

Maintaining a steady stock price isn't what makes the Wall Street Casino happy.

Microsoft is down from its high in 2000 [yahoo.com] while competitors like Apple [yahoo.com] and Google [yahoo.com] are now worth significantly more than they were. Considering Microsoft's once-dominant position, it shouldn't be flat.

Microsoft has done better than HP [yahoo.com] and Yahoo [yahoo.com] , but considering even stodgy old IBM has seen its stock price rise [yahoo.com] you have to wonder if Ballmer knows how to set a new course, adjusting to changes in tech, or just keep the ship afloat, buoyed by Windows and Office.

Microsoft had Windows for Pen Computing, Windows XP Tablet Edition, and later Courier, but lost the tablet market to Apple and Google. They had Windows CE and Windows Mobile well before iOS and Android, but never really made inroads in the smartphone market. Leveraging their default IE homepage, they couldn't get MSN / Live.com / Bing to overtake Google. Even in successful things, like HoTMaiL or IE, they simply stopped innovating until competitors appeared, and in the process those competitors took away chunks of Microsoft's market share. That they continue to exist off the profits from Windows and Office isn't the same as thriving, and that's why Ballmer gets the criticism he deserves.

Those are all consumer things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44266203)

Where MS excels is the corporate IT stack - a nice fat margin business.

Everything mentioned by the parent is consumer products - products purchased on the whims of the public base upon fads and style.

But let's talk about stock price. Wall Street is a market prone to their own fads and lemming thinking.

Microsoft's stock languished because Apple and Google are exiting and MS isn't.

But look at the numbers - [yahoo.com] nice!. ROE +20% Operating margin of 35%.

It's a safe stock and a respectable addition to a portfolio - even when the Fed stops QE, I don't expect MSFT to take it on the chin like AAPL and GOOG will.

Microsoft could have been more (5, Insightful)

BLToday (1777712) | about a year ago | (#44265673)

So many times in the last 15 years, you could tell that Microsoft was really really close to getting it right. Just a few more revisions and they would have done it.

* Smartphones: really an outgrowth of PDAs. WinCE (version 3 and later) bested Palm OS. Palm was crushed and what did Microsoft do? Sit there for 5 years with minimal investment in WinCE. WinMo 2003 was barely an upgrade to the previous version. I had the Jornado, HP iPaq, and the HP hw6515 (I think) smartphone. It even had GPS well before the iPhone.

* Tablets: Bill Gates was right, we all will have a tablet in the future. It's just not running Windows. I bought the HP TX tablet/convertible. And you can tell that even with Vista, it was potentially a great device. Handwriting recognition, touch support, pressure sensitivity and decent weight. But terrible bloat in the initial Vista release made the tablet boot up in about 2 minutes on a good day and put out heat like a nuclear reactor.

* GPS/media players: Remember all those Magellan and Garmin GPS units, and portable media players from China? They were likely running WinCE.

* Email: Hotmail was there early on and they sat there while Google took over. I remember the 4MB account limit.

He is not a bad CEO just really mediocre. (1)

msmonroe (2511262) | about a year ago | (#44265679)

Compare him with other CEO's that inherited company's that were in far worse shape when becoming they became CEO's he seems fairly mediocre. Take Apple as an example, when Jobs came back in as CEO Apple the company was like 90 days from bankruptcy. Seems like Ballmer is coming in and collecting a paycheck basically. Expects excellence from his people when he doesn't seem to want to put in the work, that's what it seems like anyway. What MS products can you point to that are disruptive? Zero as far as I know.

Ballmer's retirement gambit (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44265741)

From the inside (thus posting AC), it’s apparent that the last shakeup including Sinofsky’s hurried exit was all about Ballmer consolidating power and eliminating potential successors. This week’s changes, from an exec perspective, are aimed at the Board: solidifying the structure of Ballmer and his non-threatening herd to make them impervious to removal attempts should the service & hardware gambit’s revenue fail to beat the past decade of software revenue. Honestly, tho, the exec chair-shuffling usually has little impact on real work anyway.

From the perspective of anyone level 66 or below, the changes are rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic -- and a real inexorable decline has been underway for years. Now... Tying MSR to product groups? Consolidating Studios/Xbox with Office/RibbonUX slop? Enforcing massive cross-enterprise bureacracy for any major initiative? Just as when Dan Hesse took over ATTWS and eviscerated R&D's 2-5yr projects in favor of any project that would sell in 1-2 quarters and adopted one of these silly One-Company pogroms, the new One-Microsoft is well on its way to running out of new things to sell. Aside from a dwindling handful of great exceptions (kinect applications, a phone or two?) when was the last time anything revolutionary happened in a division that makes money (Office, and uh Office)? The age of innovation is long over, and the age of sales and marketing is now giving way to the age of the bean counters and turnip-squeezers. All the execs really want right now is to keep collecting GDP-sized paychecks until retirement.

Re:Ballmer's retirement gambit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44265949)

As a former Microsoft employee I think his greatest failure was the hiring of Kevin "Wal*Mart" Turner as COO. Until then I still had hope that the company could go back to its glory day. Within 6 months of Turner's arrival, I quit.

Bad Front Man (1)

az1324 (458137) | about a year ago | (#44265801)

I don't know about CEO but the only way he could be a good front man would be in a KISS cover band.

Great tech; terrible behaviour (1)

Qwavel (733416) | about a year ago | (#44265831)

Microsoft has great technology (as a developer, I think dotNet is the best), but their behaviour has been odius, e.g. always trying to hold back the web and scare users from the cloud in a failed attempt to safe-guard their client side bastion. And stuff like the Xbox One fiasco just re-inforces that.

And I rather doubt that Balmer is responsible for how good dotNet is.

and a third and forth chance too! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44265871)

I've been enjoying M$ slow decline for years, please keep Balmer!

he's doing his job (1)

Tom (822) | about a year ago | (#44265929)

MS has been on the way down for a long, long time.

If you think Balmer's job is to take it to new heights, I personally think you're stupid. He's not the man for that kind of job, and everyone knows it.

His job is to keep the ship afloat as long as possible, to make the inevitable decline as slow and smooth as possible. And yes, he has been doing quite well on that task. Time and time again we on /., nerds in general and sometimes even the tech press have predicted MS imminent demise, but Balmer has managed to prevent any serious crash & burn.

Re:he's doing his job (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44266221)

> /., nerds in general and sometimes even the tech press have predicted MS imminent demise

Just because the sun didn't supernova today, doesn't mean it won't. Ballmer has plenty of time to live to see the end of MS. It will be long before the heat-death of Google.

He is doing fine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44266109)

I've been saying the same thing for years. Microsoft is hugely profitable, that is what the CEO is supposed to do, keep the company making money. Ballmer, despite his flaws as a leader, as a person, is doing a great job as CEO.

i'm saying if not is (2)

sgt scrub (869860) | about a year ago | (#44266129)

The mature verdict on Steve Ballmer is that he has made only one major strategic error: not combining his own brilliance for sales and detail with a visionary product leader who has the authority to create bold new revenue streams for the company.

It was my impression Ballmer's contribution was the bulk licensing trap that leveraged their monopoly. If that is the case, and with rules preventing manipulating the market using your monopoly, Ballmer's only strategy has been eliminated.

YouTube hit with only 31K views? (1)

MikeTheGreat (34142) | about a year ago | (#44266133)

Is the author looking to drive traffic to their video? I followed the link but only 31K people have viewed it (as of 4:20pm, PST, July 12, 2013). That can't be right - did the author put that in their just to drive traffic to their version of the video?

Of course he's to blame! (1)

xtal (49134) | about a year ago | (#44266149)

He's the guy in charge; the problems at Microsoft are well known and documented, hell I'm pretty sure there's even BOOKS on the topic.

I don't know what the hell is going on at Microsoft but I sure hope it's all sorted before Windows 7 gets EOLed.

2021 - year of the linux desktop?

He is supposed to be nice guy. But ... (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about a year ago | (#44266169)

My relative who works for Microsoft and she and her husband use the company gym. They say they routinely run into Steve Ballmer working out. No fuss, no special privileges or anything. Quite polite apparently. So under all those layers of caricatures and perceptions there could be a nice guy hidden somewhere.

But if he a great salesman but has not made any great products, but still continues to make great sales, what does it make him? A con man? The Great Snake Oil salesman?

They also say nice things about Bill Gates as a person. Apparently his assistants contested the property tax assessment from the city and Bill ordered it be withdrawn and paid the assessed tax quietly without fuss. Also both Bill and Melinda were very nice and polite to the parents of playmates and friends of their children.

Sorry no citations.

Stagnant because of monopoly (1)

guruevi (827432) | about a year ago | (#44266183)

The only reason they've got any customers left is because of their monopolies. Their only customers are companies that don't know how to migrate away.
- Their latest OS: Just a remake of the same-old, many people don't see the need to move from what they have (XP/7). They only sold a bunch of licenses because you can't buy 7/XP but you can use the license to downgrade.
- Their latest Office: It moved to the *cloud* and thus everybody just stays on what they have currently. If they want to make the expense to move to an online platform, they might as well not spend money on it and use Google.
- Their latest Exchange: Just a remake, nothing innovative or new. The only reason people stick to Exchange is because there is no way out. There are organizations that have attempted moving their stuff but Exchange simply doesn't cooperate. So maybe they move to Outlook.com but that's also running Exchange, so nothing changes.
- Their cloud offering: Too expensive to compete in the home market
- Their server/virtualization offering: Too expensive, too resource intensive and too much lock-in to compete with free and open source solutions. Consumers don't care about what's running their servers so many companies that have at least a number of smart people have converted the Microsoft server stack to something else, startups historically (the Googles, Twitters, Facebooks, SalesForces), can't afford Windows Server and Database (which runs upwards of $20k or the cost of 4 well equipped servers) when they startup and when they eventually turn profitable they've built their world around MySQL, Hadoop, OpenStack and improved upon it.

Slight correction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44266265)

Put a question mark at the end and you've got yourself a class Betteridge headline.

Funny how the article in question targets google.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44266445)

"Contrast that with social networking companies such as Twitter and Facebook—and of course Google, with its rapey contextual advertising—all of which throw their users “free” toys but violate them with privacy-invading ad sales and user-data scandals. Microsoft can seem positively virtuous by comparison."
Strange how not even half way through the article, the microsoft fanboy is bashing google..

Steve Ballmer (0)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about a year ago | (#44266559)

is the perfect person to be hated even undeservedly.

What hate? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44266583)

Oh, but the laughter!

He's just the CEO (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44266595)

He's just the head of the company, he shouldn't be held accountable for everything that Microsoft does. That is why we shouldn't have prosecuted Joseph Hazelwood for his actions as Captain of the Exxon Valdez. After all, he was only the head of the ship, there were plenty of other people on board.
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