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Steve Ballmer's Big-Time Error: Not Resigning Years Ago

Soulskill posted 1 year,28 days | from the any-tips-on-whom-we-should-blame-next? dept.

Microsoft 357

Nerval's Lobster writes "Any number of executives could take Ballmer's place, including a few he unceremoniously kicked to the curb over the years. Whoever steps into that CEO role, however, faces a much greater challenge than if Ballmer had quietly resigned several years ago. Ballmer famously missed the boat on tablets and smartphones; Windows 8 isn't selling as well as Microsoft expected; and on Websites and blogs such as Mini-Microsoft (which had a brilliant posting about Ballmer's departure), employees complain bitterly about the company's much-maligned stack-ranking system, its layers of bureaucracy, and its inability to innovate. Had Ballmer left years ago, replaced by someone with the ability to more keenly anticipate markets, the company would probably be in much better shape to face its coming challenges. In its current form, Microsoft often feels like it's struggling in the wake of Amazon, Google, Apple, and Facebook." In an interview with ZDNet, Ballmer said his biggest regret as CEO was in how Windows Vista was developed. Opinions are divided on both the nature of his resignation and what it will mean for Microsoft. While the stock price is up, BusinessWeek and others suggest the purpose of the transition is to find somebody better able to anticipate future trends. That would certainly lead to more organizational changes within Microsoft, something employees suffered through just last month. Ben Kuchera at the Penny Arcade Report points out that this could mean Microsoft will try to re-enter markets it has abandoned. He asks the company to "stay the hell away from PC gaming."

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Vista (4, Insightful)

bonch (38532) | 1 year,28 days | (#44658845)

In an interview with ZDNet, Ballmer said his biggest regret as CEO was in how Windows Vista was developed.

The aftermath of Vista is precisely when he should have resigned. CEOs of other tech companies have resigned for lesser debacles.

Re:Vista (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44659107)

The aftermath of Vista is precisely when he should have resigned.

I think they could have sold a rock in those Windows boxes and people would still buy it (especially as this rock would come bundled with desktops and laptops). And those who dislike buying a rock instead of software would just wait for "Windows: The Less Crappy Release" as people have with Windows 7

The bigger concern is with markets where they have competition, i.e. XBox, Tablets, etc.

Re:Vista (3, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659371)

Not so much how it was developed, but that it was released before it was really ready and a log of people were conned into buying Vista Ready PCs which had a crappy inferior Intel chipset unable to fully support. Microsoft knew and still proceeded. I still have the PDF with all the emails.

Re:Vista (0)

Lumpy (12016) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659497)

And that is another problem. Microsoft has become Intel Whores and set the "requirements" so low that if you buy the lower end hardware for that OS you end up with a pile of crap. They need to tell intel to shove it in their arse and say that Windows 8 requires quad i5 or higher.

Re:Vista (4, Insightful)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659457)

This. Ballmer had one job: don't fuck up Windows.

He failed at the modest task which was his charge.

Re:Vista (4, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659659)

This. Ballmer had one job: don't fuck up Windows.

He failed at the modest task which was his charge.

Ballmer could have been in a coma and done better.

$20B the value of Steve Ballmer leaving (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44658931)

Ballmer resigned. Stock went up 7.29% in a big jump of about $20B in value.

So Microsoft without Steve Ballmer is worth $20B more than a Microsoft with Steve Ballmer.
That is the legacy of a great man.

Steve Ballmer the -$20B man.

Re:$20B the value of Steve Ballmer leaving (4, Insightful)

methano (519830) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659203)

But at the same time, Steve Ballmer without Microsoft is worth more than Steve Ballmer with Microsoft. And that makes his decision a good one for him, financially.

Re:$20B the value of Steve Ballmer leaving (0, Troll)

BitZtream (692029) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659255)

Only if you're a moron.

Change is why the stock jumped, not because of the man involved.

Microsoft is declining, almost any change in management will spark a stock jump as people become hopeful that a new person my have insight to stop the decline and return to a growth period.

Blaming the price jump on Ballmer specifically just shows you have absolutely no understanding of people playing the stock market.

Re:$20B the value of Steve Ballmer leaving (3, Informative)

BasilBrush (643681) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659375)

Just because you disagree with his opinion doesn't mean that you can speak for "the people playing the stock market". All of which have their own set of opinions that are not the same as yours.

I suggest that far more investors than you imagine know who the CEO of Microsoft is, and blame him in particular for it's disappointing performance. But that's just my opinion.

Re:$20B the value of Steve Ballmer leaving (2)

mrscorpio (265337) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659379)

How did the stock due after Gates left? And Jobs at Apple?

Re:$20B the value of Steve Ballmer leaving (4, Insightful)

Jeng (926980) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659407)

So what you are saying is that if Ballmer was an awesome CEO who made good decisions that the stock price still would have jumped as much as it did?

Re:$20B the value of Steve Ballmer leaving (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44659431)

You're the moron. Not all change is good. If you're good for the company and you leave, the company's stock will drop.

They haven't even announced his replacement, and yet it drops. Go figure.

Re:$20B the value of Steve Ballmer leaving (1)

methano (519830) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659433)

Your comment is an odd one. Are you saying that the change in stock price was unrelated to Ballmer's resignation?

Re:$20B the value of Steve Ballmer leaving (4, Insightful)

SerpentMage (13390) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659619)

actually you are the moron. I actually trade the market and know the market. When change happens the market does not always react the way that it does. Often if the CEO leaves in this manner the stock DROPS! The stock market does not like change in a winning company. The reason why Microsoft went up is because Microsoft is a value trap and the stock market has determined that Ballmer is indeed a dud! In fact look at the stock price during Ballmer's reign, its neither up nor down. It just sucks. Thus the GP is right.

Re:$20B the value of Steve Ballmer leaving (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44659685)

do the same calcuation for AAPL stock after Steve Jobs' departure and you'll see how much he was (is) worth...

Gotta get RMS as CEO (4, Funny)

smitty_one_each (243267) | 1 year,28 days | (#44658937)

Which 'splodes first: RMS, or MS?

Amazon/Facebook? (2)

cod3r_ (2031620) | 1 year,28 days | (#44658965)

What challenges do those companies pose for MS?

Re:Amazon/Facebook? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44659047)

Nerval's Lobster is full of shit as usual.

Re:Amazon/Facebook? (2)

vux984 (928602) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659093)

amazon is easy: cloud computing, cloud storage etc. Microsoft's Azure stuff has lot less mind share, and is generally behind.

facebook? I dunno... ownership of the account. Most heavily used Single-signon gateway. (Surprised gmail and hotmail/outlook didn't get there first... microsoft tried 'passport' years ago after all. Or maybe Facebook as more valuable web portal or competitor for advertising?

Personally I just wish Facebook would get myspaced and the sooner the better, or better still for 'social networking' sites as a category to just burn itself out.

xkcd pretty much nailed it: []

Amazon is more than generic cloud computing (4, Interesting)

default luser (529332) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659615)

They have a much richer set of offerings and ecosystem for end-users as well.

Despite years of trying, Amazon has done what Microsoft STILL could not: make solid inroads into the music market dominated by iTunes [] . And every item you purchase on their site (electronic or not) ends up in your cloud player collection, making it a very attractive deal.

And Amazon has the entire e-book market locked-up, an impressive competitively-priced competitor to Netflix (Microsoft has no such offerings), and don't forget the successful Kindle/Kindle Fire tablets to enjoy all that content on!

Even though it's not the standard on Android, I have a feeling more people make use of the Amazon App Store than Microsoft's Windows Phone Store. Microsoft can only wish they had made all these right moves years back, instead of letting everyone gallop ahead of Win Mobile.

"Stay away from PC Gaming" Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44658971)

The only reason I run Windows at home at all for is gaming, Stevesie is clearly trippin'

Maybe they should take him to that "farm" out in the country where he can "roam free" with other useless CEOs a little sooner?

Re:"Stay away from PC Gaming" Really? (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659055)

What he probably means is that Microsoft should not try to produce its own PC games.

Microsoft Abuses Gamers (1)

tuppe666 (904118) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659187)

What he probably means is that Microsoft should not try to produce its own PC games.

What he should mean is how Gamers where shit on by Microsoft over the Xbox One, and bringing that same madness to the PC market, would probably be a bad thing. Not that I can tell, the penny arcade report was pretty offensively a love fest to Microsoft Nasty Practices at announced. I found the way they have discussed the second hand games particularly offensive.

Re:"Stay away from PC Gaming" Really? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44659097)

So... he did one thing right at least. Windows 8 is better than people think, the same as was Vista, W7 is built in the grounds of Vista. The new Metro UI is a game changer for Windows and even with 8.1 it isn't still finnished, it's huge project for a huge market, probably with 8.2 or W9 will start thinking about Metro UI the same as with W7 vs Vista.

Re:"Stay away from PC Gaming" Really? (5, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659151)

My prediction is that by Windows 9, Metro will be an optional (and thus ultimately destined to be scrapped) feature.

Re:"Stay away from PC Gaming" Really? (1)

bazorg (911295) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659281)

Please do keep your slashdot username active. I will be in touch 5 years from now to check on this.

Re:"Stay away from PC Gaming" Really? (1, Flamebait)

Stormwatch (703920) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659495)

On the contrary, I hope they insist on it... further harming themselves.

Re:"Stay away from PC Gaming" Really? (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659561)

Frankly, I think by Windows 9, the Start Menu will be back. It will be a Metro-ized smart Start menu to be sure, but nevertheless it will return.

Re:"Stay away from PC Gaming" Really? (3, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659549)

windows 9 will come with the new Windows BOB interface as default.

Honestly, they can no longer design anything. They jumped the shark 5 years ago and have been living on rerun royalties ever since.

Re:"Stay away from PC Gaming" Really? (1)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659517)

Better cash in those BallmerBucks(tm) soon. They won't be worth much in a few months, and you'll have nothing to show for your shill posts except for a vaguely dirty feeling.

Re:"Stay away from PC Gaming" Really? (3, Informative)

Lumpy (12016) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659537)

"Windows 8 is better than people think"

No, n o it's not. I have yet to find a SINGLE person that says "OMG Windows 8 is so much better than Windows 7!! I get calls constantly from friends and others asking how they can install windows 7 on their new laptop. They do NOT want windows 8, and the morons that run Microsoft refuse to listen to the bulk of the customers.

But then they also ignored everyone with Windows Phone and Surface... their other two utter failures that are not selling.

Re:"Stay away from PC Gaming" Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44659305)

Slashdot basement dwellers tend to vastly overemphasize the importance of PC gaming. The entire PC game market could disappear and it would make barely a blip in Microsoft's revenue.

Even the idea of owning a desktop PC (especially with huge red fans and bright blue LEDs) is considered ridiculous by most people in year 2013.

Re:"Stay away from PC Gaming" Really? (2, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659365)

Slashdot basement dwellers tend to vastly overemphasize the importance of PC gaming. The entire PC game market could disappear and it would make barely a blip in Microsoft's revenue.

Even the idea of owning a desktop PC (especially with huge red fans and bright blue LEDs) is considered ridiculous by most people in year 2013.


1. Businesses aren't buying desktop PCs because Windows 8.
2. Consumers aren't buying desktop PCs because they're 'ridiculous'.

Then who's buying those desktop PCs, other than gamers?

Re:"Stay away from PC Gaming" Really? (0)

Lumpy (12016) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659563)

Nobody really. Most people are buying laptops.

Re:"Stay away from PC Gaming" Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44659675)

Nothing like sweeping generalizations with no basis in fact...

Oh wait, I forgot this is an AC on /.

Now take your laptop and jam it sideways up your arse

Also, not breaking up the company (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44658983)

Long ago (around the first IE anti-trust lawsuit installment) I heard the argument that breaking Microsoft into separate companies along the OS, Backofffice, Office, Database, and Internet (this was before XBox) areas would be best for the company's overall innovation and net profit. Ballmer never did that, either.

The theory was each element would be more free to do what it needed to do for itself, without the weird requirements to interconnect with the software and rules of the other groups, and as separate companies more of an "invisible hand of the market" could guide decisions instead of management. Collaboration and interoperation would still be allowed and encouraged because the sub-companies would all be wholly-owned subsidiaries, but management control would not span any two of them.

This break-up theory would address a number of things Ballmer seems to have said he was trying to fix over the years.


Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44658999)

I mean, come on !!

MORE of that SNOWDEN !!

Question is when (5, Insightful)

onyxruby (118189) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659001)

The question isn't if he should have been let go years ago, the questions are when he should have been let and what the hell took so long? Defenders like to point out that Microsoft has become more profitable and larger under Steve Ballmer. Ballmer had disaster after disaster at the helm of Microsoft, imagine what the stock would have done /without/ all the disasters the Ballmer created?

Personally I'm of the opinion he should have been let go after the fiasco that was Vista.

Re:Question is when (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44659095)

After? Vista was a fiasco well before it was released. When they took the Longhorn codebase and shitcanned it and started over, that's when they should have shitcanned the CEO along with it; it's only the flagship fucking product. This was as early as 2004.

The ridiculous, unprecedented gap between the XP release and the Vista release will be looked back on as the point where MSFT hit the iceberg.

Re:Question is when (0)

onyxruby (118189) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659195)

The only purpose of the gap was to wait out the DOJ decree requiring oversight of any released operating systems. It's been a while, however as memory serves Vista was released within months of the DOJ decree expiring.

Re:Question is when (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44659233)

The only purpose of the gap was to wait out the DOJ decree requiring oversight of any released operating systems. It's been a while, however as memory serves Vista was released within months of the DOJ decree expiring.

Anyone who lived through it on the Windows team will tell you that is not, in any way, true.

Re:Question is when (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44659273)

I know, right? Least hypothesis here:

a) Microsoft sabotaged their flagship product so that the Bush DOJ wouldn't investigate them for something that they never really cared much about in the first place, or
b) The Windows team was absurdly mismanaged between 2000 through at least 2007.

I'm going with B.

Re:Question is when (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44659239)

Yes, that huge gap between XP and Vista really froze enterprise IT and they figured out they didn't need Microsoft's latest-and-greatest.

Now most enterprise desktops are a shitpile of barely maintained 10 year old software. Very few people care about MS's newer technologies, most MS-oriented corporate developers couldn't run them even if they wanted to. The PC is a dead end, and that's largely Vista and Ballmer's fault.

Re:Question is when (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44659435)

Now most enterprise desktops are a shitpile of barely maintained 10 year old software.

Truest thing ever spoken on Slashdot.

Sent from my craptastic Windows XP machine at work.

Re:Question is when (1)

rvw (755107) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659303)

Ballmer had disaster after disaster at the helm of Microsoft, imagine what the stock would have done /without/ all the disasters the Ballmer created?

I've read that resigning resulted in $20B stock raise. I bet that you can multiply that by 5 if he had left MS 5 years ago, and roughly that could apply to any number of years (like 7 years would result in 7x20 etc).

We don't know that (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44659425)

What would have happened if Blamer wasn't in charge will never be known. For all we know, they could have put someone in charge who would have divested out of the OS and Office businesses and put everything into the mobile and gaming consoles - THAT would be a disaster.

MS is still extremely strong and profitable in corporate IT stacks and Balmer was smart in strengthening that business.

We _I_ think he made a mistake was investing in consumer (mobile and other tech) technologies. He should have concentrated on the business/corporate IT stacks and to hell with the consumer devices. Because as we are starting to see, the consumer devices (tablets, phones, etc ..) are becoming increasingly commoditised and the margins will start going into free-fall or market will plummet - as I predict will happen with Apple.

We shall see but I think the next CEO will probably turn MS into a business services company - leveraging their software - in other words, going all "IBM" and "Oracle".

Re:We don't know that (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659539)

It seems the next logical step to me. I think at this point it's going to be hard in the long term for Microsoft to compete in the consumer world. I don't think the PC will ever go completely away in the consumer world, but the day of everyone having a desktop (and a little later a notebook) running Windows is dying, and dying very rapidly. Tablets and smartphones are rendering the PC pointless. We have a notebook and a netbook at home, and the netbook only gets used when I'm on business trips, and then only in the hotel room at night when I need to do some longer emails (my Nexus 7 and iPhone are the email workhorses the rest of the time). The notebook only gets used when my wife wants to type out a long letter or when I need to do some coding or correspondence at home (not that I like coding on it, terrible fucking keyboard). Seriously, there was like two weeks where neither computer even got turned on. I have a Nexus 7, my wife has a Kobo Arc, and pretty much all our recreational computing are on those two devices.

And while it's anecdotal, a growing number of people I talk to are the same way. PCs have their place, but with decreased usage, the frequency of replacement is dropping off the map. Even five or six years ago, most of the people I dealt with were gifting their old desktops and notebooks to Aunt Mildred or Grandpa Joe and going and buying a new one. Now, having three or four year old PCs is considered perfectly fine.

Re:Question is when (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659609)

Well if AdQuantive and Surface RT never happened, that would like $8B more dollars MS would have today.

Stock up 10% (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44659021)

Will the SEC investigate who the big "winners" were today?

Re:Stock up 10% (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44659197)

Ballmer himself made a cool billion dollars off of the jump. I guess that's gotta take the sting out of the insult, huh?

Re:Stock up 10% (1)

greg1104 (461138) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659439)

The big winners weren't today, they were the insider options trades that executed long before the news was public. See Who Knew What When [] for some of that. The SEC won't do anything, since some of those trades are likely to have high political connections. When Congress won't stop insider trading [] , no one in the SEC wants to rock that boat. They only take on little fish.

Microsoft is hardly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44659027)

... the main culprit responsible for the state of PC gaming. The entire game industry shit on PC because it was easier to sell to console kiddies. Valve shit on PC with steam (and those who love it are defending sugar covered crap). Id Software shit on PC by farming out Quake 4 and not doing it themselves, not to mention enemy territory (which was overall a really bad rip off of battlefield).

Then there is the dumbing down of games generally for the console audience. It was an industry wide trend. Everyone saw the success of Call of duty and the trend was to make games more like movies and less like games. If MS actually knew what it was doing it would have created something like good old games ( + best features of steam without the DRM and required integration/login with friends/tools/platform/IM/level editors and have community all in one place but without the giant middle finger that gabe gives gamers.

The answer has been obvious for a long time, a platform like steam without steams obnoxious DRM and the ability to de-couple games from the mothership (i.e. OWN and modify them). Almost all STEAM Integrated PC games have suffered except a few with regards to mods and level editing.

Revolution In Cross Plaform Gaming (2)

tuppe666 (904118) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659269)

... the main culprit responsible for the state of PC gaming. The entire game industry shit on PC because it was easier to sell to console kiddies.

Actually there is a revolution in PC Gaming. I should say gaming in general driven by an army of small indie gaming outfits. That amongst a multitude of pleasant surprises a move to DRM Free, Ethical Pricing, Cross Platform (Linux/Mac and Android), they have started putting the "Game" Back in Gaming with interested untried genres themes and inventive and challenging gameplay...rather than the usual tired franchises.

Re:Microsoft is hardly... (1)

Stormwatch (703920) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659543)

Id Software shit on PC by farming out Quake 4 and not doing it themselves

What? I like Quake 4. It's much more fun than Doom 3.

AAANNDDD ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44659039)

the good-bye gift to the world is the source code to MS DOS 6.22. AWESOME!
(prolly not because it's tooo embarrassing?)

Re:AAANNDDD ... (1)

BitZtream (692029) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659299)

Embarrassing to who? It made them millions of dollars. If you find that embarrassing, you're the one with the issue.

Businesses aren't in business to produce pretty code that you approve of, they are in business to sell a product people will buy and use, full stop.

Fat chance, Ben (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44659043)

As long as DirectX is a thing, Windows has an app store and the Xbox is binary compatible with the core OS, you're never going to escape Microsoft in gaming.

Re:Fat chance, Ben (1)

BitZtream (692029) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659335)

... let me know at what point the Xbox becomes binary compatible with ... well anything really. Xbox ... nope. 360 ... nope, closest you get is 'managed code' which would be like calling Java native binaries. XBone ... nope, managed code is still as close as you get ...

Remember, managed code is just prepared source code for the most part. It is not native, nor is it stand alone. It requires an interpreter ... which is ultimately written in actual native code, to get the job done.

Game Engines (1)

tuppe666 (904118) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659351)

As long as DirectX is a thing, Windows has an app store and the Xbox is binary compatible with the core OS, you're never going to escape Microsoft in gaming.

DirectX isn't the selling point it once was...It doesn't run on Android for a start, That is half your potential market...In money terms a much greater market Increasingly game engines with the promise develop once publish everywhere are what games are developed in. The xbox is not as big an influence as you think it is, and definitely not as much as Microsoft thinks it has after the backlash from games being treated badly by Microsoft, going to the loving arms of Sony.

Stay away from PC Gaming? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44659057)

Why? That's patently stupid. The XBOX is basically a PC! Free money!

Not resigning is not HIS error. (1)

briancox2 (2417470) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659067)

Steve Balmer is a wealther man today for not resigning.

Microsoft's error, on the other hand, is that they did not fire him.

At last (5, Funny)

RevWaldo (1186281) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659075)

Folding chairs throughout the northwest can breathe a little easier easier.


Never interrupt your enemy.. (1)

Rob Bos (3399) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659087)

when he is making a mistake.

I'll do it. (2)

dyingtolive (1393037) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659115)

I volunteer. I'll take his place.

Re:I'll do it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44659589)

Indeed. Make sure to write in your portfolio "I can throw a chair real hard. Just ask the programmers."

Easy now (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659127)

I have nothing to add.

Apparently, just like him.

Ballmer was fired (5, Insightful)

ErnoWindt (301103) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659161)

No one takes a nearly $1 billion write down and lives to make more humongous mistakes another day. There's got to be a line somewhere, and Steve finally crossed it.

They lost the trust of major business partners (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44659179)

With their brutal monopolistic behavior from 1985-2000.

Not customers, who happily continue to buy MS Windows, Office and Visual Studio, but partners such as PC OEMs, handset vendors, telecoms and application developers. Everyone said "We won't get fooled again."

Also, the "architecture" they devised to make Windows so complex for anyone to successfully clone, also became a 2000 lb boat anchor when they tried to change direction. They're stuck with the old codebase for compatibility. Even if Ballmer and Gates had both left, they would have to deal with this part of the problem. It'll be up to a new guy now.

Most ironic (2)

Lucas123 (935744) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659185)

The retirement announcement impacted Microsoft's stock value so much that Ballmer's now worth about a billion dollars more than he was on Thursday. A MarketWatch story even said Ballmer could buy himself 27,000 gold watches for retirement based on the difference in stock price. Ouch. Talk about not being missed.

Struggling with a near monopoly. (1)

gallondr00nk (868673) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659193)

In its current form, Microsoft often feels like it's struggling in the wake of Amazon, Google, Apple, and Facebook

Microsoft still has 90% of the desktop operating system market share in one form or another. It can afford to make a lot more mistakes yet, desktop machines aren't going anywhere.

Re:Struggling with a near monopoly. (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44659347)

There are actually quite a few people who would argue that yes, they are in fact going somewhere.

Families before may have needed 2-3 desktops to satisfy the family. Now they need 1 desktop and a couple tablets.

Workstations aren't going anywhere, but enterprises are very slow to upgrade, and are more and more moving away from the latest windows to either "why do I need to upgrade" or Macs or in some more rare cases linux. Why get a windows PC when I have an iPad and iPhone, I may as well get an Apple PC instead as my workstation. It can do everything MS can.

Serverspace Linux has already eaten Microsoft's lunch several times over.

Re:Struggling with a near monopoly. (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659459)

Basically that's where we are. The bulk of our workstations are Vista Pro, good enough to support most of the newer GPO features found in Server 2012, good enough to run Office 2010, Photoshop and a few other oddball apps we use. In fact, when we had one die recently, I went and bought a refurbished Dell box with Vista Pro on it for something like $120 with shipping. Even XP would work, though it lacks some of the GPO support that we use now, but the fact is that most of our XP boxes have died or been given away, so it's really going to be much of an issue when they finally shut down all support.

And therein lies the problem. Five or six year old hardware is good enough for almost all business use. There may be some compelling reasons to upgrade the backoffice stuff, and indeed, we're moving away from our Server 2003/Exchange 2003 network to Server 2012/Exchange 2010 (not going to Exchange 2013 because we can't do a direct migration from Exchange 2003). I can't foresee any other major upgrades in the near future. At some point I suppose we'll have to go to a newer version of Windows for the workstations, but by that point we will be looking at Windows 9, and possibly, if other desktop/notebook options like Chromebooks show sufficient promise, we may even consider walking away from Windows for at least some of our staff.

It ain't 2000 anymore, and Microsoft isn't the "must-have" it once was.

Re:Struggling with a near monopoly. (1)

BitZtream (692029) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659369)

No, it doesn't, and hasn't for a few years now, and every day OSX takes more away from it.

Re:Struggling with a near monopoly. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44659687)

Yeah, OSX with its huge 7% share is really nipping at MS's heels.

Re:Struggling with a near monopoly. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44659397)

> desktop machines aren't going anywhere

Yes they are. Consumers are already abandoning PCs for tablets, and they're not coming back. Corporations would love to virtualize PC apps and stick them in "the cloud" somewhere and stop worrying about upgrade dependancies and all that crap.

Technically people still might have a "PC" on their desk but the OS will be a very dumbed-down limited version of what they currently use.

Re:Struggling with a near monopoly. (3, Interesting)

sjames (1099) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659413)

Microsoft's problem is that a great many of those desktops are XP. They haven't made any money on them for a while now. What matters to MS today is how many people are upgrading or buying new today. Their problem is nobody wants Windows 8 or Windows phones. That and their customers are starting to wonder if with all of the interface changes it wouldn't be any more disruptive to go with Mac or Linux when they have to upgrade.

Re:Struggling with a near monopoly. (0)

BasilBrush (643681) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659421)

Microsoft still has 90% of the desktop operating system market share in one form or another. It can afford to make a lot more mistakes yet, desktop machines aren't going anywhere.

Wrong on both counts.

Actually, A Golden Opportunity For A Go-Getter (1)

assertation (1255714) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659199)

Yes, Ballmer is leaving behind problems to clean up, but how often does an executive get the chance to inherit the power & reach of a company like Microsoft...and the chance to turn it in a direction s/he wants?

I'm sure more than a few talented high power types will be eager to apply for Ballmer's spot.

The sad thing is that... (3, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659227)

...Microsoft's future directions are so obvious. Microsoft needs to"

  • Spin off its apps division, because trying to keep Windows/Windows RT as the only mobile platform for Office A. results in fewer sales of Office, and B. is a crutch that partially prevents the OS team from feeling like they have to be the best. In short, the "synergy" only holds both teams back.
  • Radically redesign the RT UI without all the bright pastel buttons that make it look like it was designed for children.
  • Stop trying to unify Windows and Windows RT (though providing the ability to run RT apps on the desktop in a window would be fine) because it just pisses off both communities.
  • Take steps to gain developers on RT by creating better development tools that make it brain-dead simple to build both an RT and native Windows UI for an app and by providing an RT runtime for iOS and/or Android and/or vice-versa so that developers can rework their code once and target both RT and an OS that they're going to target anyway.
  • Give away all those extra Windows RT tablets to developers in exchange for a promise to deploy their app on the platform.

  • Deprecate and remove a metric f***ton of API from Windows, no matter who it breaks.
  • Make Windows RT hardware that is significantly better than an iPad, without compromises. This means that there must be models with built-in cellular service, for starters. The rear camera must be at least as good as the 5 MP iPad rear camera. The battery life must be as good or better. And so on. All of these things are currently significantly worse on the Surface RT; even the iPad Mini has a better rear camera. Yet the price wasn't dramatically cheaper. The only thing it wins on is the number of CPU cores, and that's just not a feature you can sell.

And so on. All of these things are obvious to a casual observer. Why they aren't obvious to Microsoft is beyond my comprehension. It is as though they have been managed by somebody who has been on vacation for the past decade, left to continue doing what they have always done, in the vain hope that somehow their previous offerings will become relevant again. They won't, and the longer Office is managed under the same bozos, the more likely it is to become completely irrelevant in the same way Windows has in the mobile space.

Re:The sad thing is that... (1)

dgatwood (11270) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659279)

Sigh. Punctuation fail. My bad.

Re:The sad thing is that... (0)

sjames (1099) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659581)

They also need to quit nickle and dimeing their customers by selling a major feature in their commercials as an extra.

Next, they need to be more realistic. They are not seen as a cool company and never will be. They do not have enough cool to attract developers to their walled garden with it's many rules and regulations. Apple managed that, but that's Apple. Metro/Windows 8 don't have enough market share to let that be the needed incentive either. Developing Metro apps is mostly downside at this point. If they make the tools free and loosen their grip enough to allow sideloading, they might get a trickle of apps out there. They keep yelling "NO! It's OURS" and the rest of the world is saying "fine, keep it!".

They should appoint Elops (4, Funny)

Aviation Pete (252403) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659231)

would be good for Nokia to get rid of him and Microsoft will continue it's journey into irrelevance. Double Bonus!

I for one (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44659271)

Welcome our new Window-less future.

Former MS employee here (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44659291)

I use to work there and can relate to much of what the article says. It's a good place for a well paying stable developer job but definitely not for innovation. There is a group think there that has saturated the company, and if you are not with the prevailing group think people are dismissive of you and you stop getting invited to the meetings where strategy is discussed. I'm not bitter... The wife and I just started having kids at the time, so I certainly didn't make an effort to rock the boat--I just quietly did what I was told and took the paycheck because I had more important things going on in my life than trying to fight company politics and business tactics.

A while back, a slashdot commenter made the observation that Microsoft has a generation of leadership now that has never experienced the realities of running a business that faces the risk of failing and going under. I think this is true and it has negatively affected the company. I don't claim to be a rock star developer, but I saw a lot of smart and visionary developers at Microsoft. Unfortunately, however, being a leader and visionary wasn't rewarded--being a fun guy to have scotch and cigars with was the way to climb the ladder.

amykatieamykatie (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44659419)

until I looked at the receipt of $5613, I didn't believe cousin woz like actualy taking home money in their spare time at their computer.. there brothers friend has been doing this less than 11 months and a short time ago paid the morgage on their mini mansion and bought a brand new Chevrolet Corvette. we looked here,WWW.bay92.COM

Microsoft needs to be loved again (5, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659423)

Okay, so I'm a clearly-labelled "Microsoft Hater." I haven't always been this way. I got really comfortable with Win3.11 and then Win95 came out I experienced a level of computer excitement I haven't had since I started using OS-9 level two. (I am still quite fond of OS-9 though... just been a very long time.) I loved what Microsoft did. The advancements were terrific and long-awaited and all the precious knowledge I had acquired and accumulated over the various versions of DOS and Windows still applied so I was still relevant and loyal.

But then Microsoft started souring things. They tried to take over Java... tried and failed. They started pulling some extremely dirty stunts with their "partners" and such to the point it harmed so many other out there. I couldn't see those immoral acts without my opinion changing about the company behind the products. Some people just saw money and work. I have always seen more and I can't unsee it. When I see an OS user interface or go over source code or anything that goes into the design and engineering of such systems, I don't just see objects, I see ideas and what people were thinking when they put it all together which invariably results in a sense of knowing something about the people behind the creation of all of these things. For me, it was pretty easy to tell when something was a cludge or if real planning and design work went into things or how much respect one party had for another when parties worked together on a project. To me all of those things were the human element of what came together in creating these things. I may be pretty unaffected by fine art, but when I saw what when into computing back in the earlier days, I found myself quite moved by some of the things I saw. It was my world.

Microsoft slowly destroyed my world and all the things I loved about it. Microsoft started out making really cool things but when they really started getting big, they were increasingly about destroying others and less about creating cool things. If you want to understand why a Microsoft hater hates, I think my case is pretty clear by now.

And a new Microsoft could also rekindle all the new and cool things all over again. Sure, it may not be a "wise business decision." Most cool things aren't. But I think we're all ready for something really new and cool. We aren't going to get it from Apple. Google and Android is pretty much levelled off already as far as I can tell. A new Microsoft holds an opportunity within itself to recapture the love and awe it once had. So why haven't they done it already?

We know why... I just wish they would.

Re:Microsoft needs to be loved again (3, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659653)

Microsoft started out making really cool things

Like what? DOS?

Microsoft were always the cheap, crap option. DOS over Unix, Windows over Unix or Mac. I can't think of a single 'really cool thing' they've ever done.

With Android already owning the cheap, crap niche in the mobile space and Apple owning expensive and cool, Microsoft have nowhere to go.

Peter principle meets innovators dilemma (5, Interesting)

sjbe (173966) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659449)

Microsoft often feels like it's struggling in the wake of Amazon, Google, Apple, and Facebook.

That's because Microsoft has basically been a monopoly for so long they lost whatever entrepreneurial spirit they once had. For two decades now Microsoft has been about protecting Windows and Office which to this day remain their big money makers. It's really hard to blow everything up when you are making billions in profit every year. Balmer is a classic example of the and the company seems to be a case study in the [] innovator's dilemma [] .

Worse the company has to fight against the law of big numbers as well. There simply aren't that many projects available to you that are going to move the needle for a company like Microsoft. Microsoft brought in around $77 billion in sales last year with a profit of $21 billion. That means for them to grow just 5% a year they will have to essentially build a company that sells nearly $4 billion each year and next year the hurdle is even higher. To do that while maintaining a 27% net profit margin is absurdly difficult.

They have the bankroll to survive but it is not at all clear how they will find another opportunity remotely as profitable as Windows/Office. It's also not clear if Windows/Office has a long term future. Short term, nothing is going to hurt them but long term things are quite unclear. There are some serious competitive threats to Windows/Office out there. I think Microsoft management is aware of the problem and I think they are equally mystified about what to do about it. The fact that they offered over $30 billion for Yahoo speaks volumes about how empty of ideas they have become. (It speaks bigger volumes about how stupid Yahoo management was that they didn't take the deal) Even when they get the direction right (Surface Pro is a sound concept - integrating tablets and PCs) they tend to screw up the execution. They even tend to screw up when they try to buy their way into a market. It's taken them so much money to make Xbox competitive that I doubt they'll ever actually recoup the investment. Microsoft might be able to grow through acquisitions though I'm not sure they have the culture for it. I really don't see most of their acquisitions thriving. Anyone think Microsoft is going to do anything amazing with Skype? Didn't think so.

Frankly I think whoever takes over the reigns next is not going to have an easy time of it. I'm not ready to say Microsoft is doomed but turning that ship around is going to be a herculean task.

Anticipate? (0)

Quila (201335) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659471)

They need someone who can create new trends, as happened with Apple.

They didn't miss the boat (5, Insightful)

Solandri (704621) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659477)

Ballmer famously missed the boat on tablets and smartphones

Microsoft didn't miss the boat. They inadvertently helped create the very circumstances which led to them being excluded from the current tablet and smartphones we have today.

Back in the PDA days, it was a two-player game: Palm vs WinCE (later renamed Windows Mobile to get rid of the awful abbreviation). As with Netscape vs IE, Microsoft competed its heart out until it won, then dropped the ball. After Palm was more or less vanquished, Microsoft rested on its laurel. Windows Mobile pretty much went nowhere (and some would say it even went backwards with Microsoft trying to foist the Windows Desktop interface paradigm onto it). Everyone could see phones and PDAs were going to converge (and those who couldn't should've gotten a wake-up call from the Blackberry), but Microsoft made no real effort to add phone capabilities to Windows Mobile. So in the end PDA features ended up being added to phones, instead of phone capability being added to PDAs. And when PDAs went away, so did Windows Mobile.

Microsoft was a major driving force behind the Tablet PC. The Tablet versions of Windows were actually pretty good, especially the handwriting recognition. But where they erred was they wanted to make sure every tablet sold was also a copy of Windows sold. So they focused on making sure tablets were high-end PC notebooks which converted into the tablet form factor. While companies were ok with buying a $2500 tablet, regular people weren't. The immense popularity of netbooks should've been a wake-up call that there was a huge untapped market for a small, (relatively) cheap consumption-only device. But Microsoft did its best to steer manufacturers away from these low-end devices which didn't use Windows (and in fact killed off the Linux-based netbooks by making "Starter" versions of Windows). So tablets were relegated to high-end high-cost devices.

When you manipulate a market like this and steer people away from the direction the market wants to go, you create a lot of invisible pent-up demand. Apple managed to latch onto that demand with a tablet which neither used Windows nor Intel CPUs. Microsoft (and Intel) only have themselves to blame for trying to steer the market in a direction more favorable to themselves, rather than producing what the market wanted. That may have worked in the 1980s when computers were predominantly bought by businesses who could justify their high price by the additional profit they'd help generate. But once people began buying them for home use, the market became much more price-sensitive. I mean what was the point of buying a $2500 tablet PC, when you could buy a $800 laptop and a $500 iPad?

The inevitable. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44659489)

I'm sad to see Balmer go, he has been giving MS what it deserves. Enterprises don't innovate, they buy companies or products that do and then extract the value out of them. MS is a red giant headed for a black hole. That's physics. It's inevitable.

Was anyone else thinking this earlier today? (2)

atari2600a (1892574) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659513)

If the new guy can make 8.2 POSIX compliant, maybe license a better FS from Oracle or some shit, & BRING BACK THE DESKTOP METAPHOR, their problems are 80% solved! Don't get me wrong, Metro CAN work under the right circumstances, but it should be either an extension of or maybe even just a meta representation w/ some HTML5 thrown in for liveliness. (oh yeah, fix IE too) Ballmer said himself DEVELOPERS DEVELOPERS DEVELOPERS (& blew out his voice box trying to get his point across) when windows essentially supported any language or programming environment. then he drops a heaping pile of Windows 8 on us & gives us a single SDK? Oh but you can go back to the Desktop & program on anything you want. Just don't expect to run on RT.

Re:Was anyone else thinking this earlier today? (1)

atari2600a (1892574) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659531)

*extension of the existing API

Personally, I regret to see Ballmer go (1)

Mister Liberty (769145) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659575)

Never seen such a wonderful job of visonless fuck up, rear guard battles,
and monumental undisruptive monopoly read we'll sing this song till death
do us part thank you.
Sorry to see him go,

Thanks. Mr. Liberty
  -- Linux since 1991 (floppies).

"more keenly anticipate markets" (4, Insightful)

acroyear (5882) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659583)

Who are they kidding?

Rule #1 for a large company: you don't anticipate markets with an eye to joining or ruling them. You kill them before they can start. If you can't do that, you play catch-up, or you use legal weight to try to stop them.

They were behind on phones and tablets in 2010 just like they were behind on the internet in 1995. They got *lucky* in 1995 that they could buy their way into it (at great expense: giving away IE and then all of the legal fees involved for the anti-trust cases in just about every country in the world...).

They simply couldn't get that lucky now 'cause everybody knew they would try and so could out-innovate knowing that was the one thing they could do that M$ couldn't (and never could, not since day one...).

Large companies, unless you're Apple (willing to sacrifice one generation of customers for another), or Google (able to get most of the products to drive eyeballs back to your core income stream), simply don't innovate. They simply don't try to take over businesses they aren't already in (except by buying their way in, a-la Oracle). Microsoft had all the brains in the world but would NEVER have actually let them create a new product line if it ever put Windows or Office at risk. Never. Just like Xerox could never market the desktop workstation because the paperless office was a threat to their copier business.

Microsoft simply would never have been able to compete here. Ever. Internally they couldn't muster it, externally the other companies knew how to handle them.

Not only have we passed peak oil.. (1)

TeknoHog (164938) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659595)

..but also Ballmer peak.

MS logic: Make it more useless? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44659641)

Lets remote sysprep.exe and telnet.exe, require .NET layer to stick it to our competition.

Mobile was obviously the future (3, Insightful)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | 1 year,28 days | (#44659711)

Mobile was 100% obviously the future 10 or more years ago. If Microsoft had any idea what was going on it would have relentlessly pursued mobile for the last 10 years. Yet everything they did was always a bit off. Windows CE and friends were bizarre experiments on how to annoy developers. Things like Vista were just symptoms of a company that didn't seem to understand that to thrive they need to win hearts and minds, not just strong arm people into complacency. Take MS Office. Most people would be completely happy with office 2000 or maybe something older. Most people would be happy if XP were to have just been kept up to date. I am not saying Windows 8 is bad so much as for most people just don't care. Even things like the Metro interface could just be larded onto XP if that were something desired.

Just about the only MS thing that I have wanted in years was an XBox. That is pretty poor output for the last decade. But if we go back in time MS did put out useful products one after another. Windows 95 was a huge leap, 98 another, NT 2000 was fantastic, and XP after a service pack or two was solid. But then it sort of went wrong. .Net had so much potential, Vista was a hot mess. The new Windows servers along with MSSQL had such complicated licensing that Linux was the only way for me.

Now just about the only MS products that I use (until I can find a secure replacement) are Skype and my XBox 360. Even the XBox One isn't catching my attention. I feel pity for anyone with a MS phone and when I hear people using MS servers I just wonder what has kept them away from Linux.

So quite simply prior to Balmer MS was doing some interesting things. But during the entire time Balmer is there they have done almost nothing interesting. Boring has continued to make them bags of cash because so many companies out there were unable or not interested in switching. So where Balmer has been shockingly lucky is that there has been no real competitor to MS Office. Google docs has been making some inroads, and some people compromise with the various OpenOffice products but the simple reality is that once you get complicated with your documents these other product begin to show their incompatibilities. In a business environment it is just not worth futzing with the software when the MS product can be so readily purchased. But my long standing theory is that if someone comes out with a solid word processor/spreadsheet then MS is then going to begin to die.

The one that I had hopes for was Apple's iWorks product but that seemed to have been abandoned 4 years ago plus they never ported it to other platforms. Now if they opensourced iWorks for the world to build on then something exciting might happen.

So my prediction on MS's future is based upon Balmer's replacement's relationship with the Office Division. If the replacement comes from the Office division then MS is dead. But if the replacement recognizes that office is a cash cow but that the company can't rely upon it for ever then there is some hope. If the replacement comes from their R&D division it will probably be exciting even if completely crazy.
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