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Why Ballmer Should Leave Microsoft 341

Posted by Zonk
from the insert-cheap-chair-throwing-joke-here dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In the wake of the announcement of Bill Gates' departure from the top spot at Microsoft, CNN Money is carrying an article arguing that Steve Ballmer should step down as well." From the article: "Since Gates stepped down as CEO in 2000 in favor of Ballmer, the company has floundered technically and strategically. As the company's chairman, chief software architect and supposed visionary, Gates deserves blame for missing the wave of Web-based software that has propelled Google and Yahoo. But Ballmer has made gaffes of his own in his longtime role as head of the company's business side. They include an undistinguished push into business applications to compete with Oracle, financial maneuvers that have failed to stir the stock - which has slumped 16 percent so far this year - and continuing antitrust problems in the United States and Europe."
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Why Ballmer Should Leave Microsoft

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  • by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Friday June 16, 2006 @07:52AM (#15547895) Homepage Journal
    He should become the chairman.

    Afterall, he is qualified.

    Thank you, I'll be here all night.
    • by mfh (56) on Friday June 16, 2006 @08:01AM (#15547966) Homepage Journal
      Ballmer should step down in favour of Mr T, because he pity the fool who don't got high-end video cards and 4GB RAM for Vista Aero!!!

      Seriously... if Mr T was in charge of Microsoft, it would be profitable. This should not be modded funny because it's actually insightful.
    • Sorry man, I ran out of Mod Points yesterday. Although your joke is cheesey and obvious, it is better than what I came up with.

      "HEADLINE: Ballmers follows Gates' lead, chairs everywhere breath sigh of relief"
    • The heir apparent. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Alien54 (180860) on Friday June 16, 2006 @08:09AM (#15548021) Journal
      From the article:

      Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner, a recent hire from Wal-Mart Stores where he ran the Sam's Club division and previously served as the retailer's chief information officer, is the most likely replacement for Ballmer.

      He has one big strike against him: his short tenure at Microsoft, which translates into a lack of familiarity with the company's culture. He's believed to be behind a recent cost-cutting move to force the company's substantial contractor workforce to take an unpaid week off. Since contractors at Microsoft contribute to important projects and are often hired on as full-time employees, the move hurt morale.

      But as Wal-Mart's CIO, he bought a lot of software from Microsoft, giving him a valuable perspective as a customer that most executives who rose through the ranks at Microsoft lack.

      Microsoft run by a WalMart Exec. The mind boggles ....

      heck, the parodies practically write themselves

      • by RsG (809189) on Friday June 16, 2006 @08:11AM (#15548032)
        heck, the parodies practically write themselves


        Only in Soviet Russia.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 16, 2006 @08:28AM (#15548132)
        Actually, this makes perfest sense. Both Wal-Mart and Microsoft based their businesses on selling cheap low-quality products to the masses who do not know better, and then use unfair (and often illegal) tactics to force the competition out of business, thus denying higher quality producted to those who do know better.

        In both cases, the company has created an business echosystem with itself at the center where the partners (manufactures for Wal-Mart, and ISV for MS) are addicted to the cash flow, but to compete for the crumbs that WM or MS allows them to receive under the constant threat of getting crushed like a bug.
      • by Moraelin (679338) on Friday June 16, 2006 @11:15AM (#15549400) Journal
        " He's believed to be behind a recent cost-cutting move to force the company's substantial contractor workforce to take an unpaid week off. Since contractors at Microsoft contribute to important projects and are often hired on as full-time employees, the move hurt morale."

        Ah, so he knows the magic words ("cost-cutting move") and likes to kick the workers in the teeth. I can see how Wall Street would love him.

        *sigh* There's been a recent article linked to by /. about how some people at the top are really psychopaths, in the medical sense of the word. Still, technically that only has to mean not caring about others. But the more time goes by, the more it seems that some people at the top aren't just psychopathic, but also the sadistic kind. And some just seem to have a sort of hatred for those they're supposed to manage.

        I mean, look at his cost-cutting move:

        1. There are 52 weeks in a year, even if _everyone_ at MS was a contractor, and if salaries were the _only_ expenses MS ever has, it still would have saved less than 5% of the costs. But when you factor in that not everyone is, and also that execs salaries aren't the same as those of the peons thus shafted, and all the other costs, I'll take a wild guess and say that maybe he's saved 1% for the whole year. But wait, it gets better:

        2. It's not like those people were sitting around idle. MS has enough coding going on at any given time, and taking enough flak over, say, Vista delays. So here's the more important part: that "cost saving" is more than offset by the fact that it was a week of them not producing stuff for MS. We're not talking a factory who's over-produced taking a week off, but forcing it onto people who were actually producing value for the company during that time. It's as idiotic a decision as, say, closing a bunch of Wal-Mart shops for a week: sure, you've saved the money for running them for a week, _but_ you've made a bigger loss by not selling anything in that time. So far from being a "cost-cutting measure", it was more like a profit-losing measure.

        3. It was done purely for greed sake. It's not like MS was making heavy losses and needed that kind of penny-pinching to stay afloat. Forcing people to take unpaid time off when the company is making a healthy profit is... just pure unhealthy greed. Nothing more, nothing less.

        4. It was accompanied by a drop in morale. Partially also because we're talking about people smart enough to understand points 1 to 3, and recognize a _stupid_ penny-pincher when they see one. Being shafted when the company is in dire straits is one thing, but being shafted for such a completely idiotic reason tends to leave a very bad aftertaste. Even if number 2 hadn't already done more harm than good, we're talking a loss of morale that'll span many months and for some people it will even stay around for ever. And it won't even affect only those shafted, but also the people who got to see their co-workers shafted by a dumb PHB. This alone is more than enough to cause more harm than any cost-savings he might have made.

        So basically we're not even talking about a regular penny-pincher, we're talking about the dumbest kind of a PHB. The kind that makes the original PHB from Dilbert actually seem smart and competent by comparison. And the dumbest kind of decision one can do at a company.

        And yet Wall Street loves him for it and likes the idea of him as a CEO...

        I don't know... I really don't know... Are these people even focused on profit, or share value, or whatever, or are they just getting their jollies from shafting the workers and using profit as just an excuse?
        • by radtea (464814)
          Are these people even focused on profit, or share value, or whatever, or are they just getting their jollies from shafting the workers and using profit as just an excuse?

          You got it: they are enjoying the feeling of power and using profit as an excuse. All human institutions reflect basic primate (especially chimpanzee) psychology. Hierarchy and attention are the dominant factors in monkey societies. Monkeys who can get the troop's attention are able to move up the social tree more easily, and there is a
    • by goombah99 (560566) on Friday June 16, 2006 @08:37AM (#15548202)
      Whose to say Gates made a mistake letting google and yahoo create web based software? It's MS modus operandi to let others pioneer a field then they take it over. We all know the PC story and how IBM and apple and others pioneered it. Same with Wordprocessing and office software. And what about Programming IDEs?.

      Now look at what is happening in the field of PDAs and telephones. And of course there's the Xbox which came lat to the party as well. And one might even speculate MS will make a bigger move on the Server side of computing soon.

      MS is always late the to party. Pioneers get the arrows. Settlers get the land.

      One can hardly say that google's web apps are either the wave of the future or that in the End it won't be MS that controls them. There was nothing defective about Gates strategy, it has worked in the past quite well.
      • by JavaLord (680960) on Friday June 16, 2006 @10:02AM (#15548843) Journal
        We all know the PC story and how IBM and apple and others pioneered it. Same with Wordprocessing and office software. And what about Programming IDEs?. Now look at what is happening in the field of PDAs and telephones. And of course there's the Xbox which came lat to the party as well.

        MSN is another good example

        Gates deserves blame for missing the wave of Web-based software that has propelled Google and Yahoo.

        I really don't think Google and Yahoo are microsofts problem. If you ask Joe Shmoe CEO who is starting a business what kind of software he needs, he's still going to say "Outlook, Word, Excel".

        The real problem with microsoft is they can't innovate with new versions of their old products. .net isn't that hot, Vista is taking forever, nothing special is going on with office, MSN doesn't stand out in any way, SQL server doesn't seem like anything special compared to oracle or even MySQL. The only thing it seems they are making progress with is the X-Box 360 and Live Arcade.

        Also from the article:

        Losing both Gates and Ballmer will spell a big change for Microsoft. But it's likely to be a positive one. At this point, Ballmer's associated more with the hard-charging business tactics that led to Microsoft's antitrust woes and a low stock price that's sapping employee morale.

        The drive of Gates and Ballmer may have led to antitrust woes, but they also drove Microsoft to be the #1 software company in the world. Give the devil its due.
        • Nah. You're wrong. I'm not sure where you get these ideas, but they aren't based in fact. Lets see...

          .Net isn't that hot

          Have you -tried- to get a programming job lately without having .Net experience? Okay, maybe thats not completely true, but in my chosen field of programming (web dev) it is becoming increasingly difficult to find a job that doesn't require .Net experience. I'm sure others in the field can vouch for that as well.

          Nothing special is going on with Office

          How much special stuff d
  • by Iphtashu Fitz (263795) on Friday June 16, 2006 @07:55AM (#15547918)
    The entire linux community (and probably Mac as well) is strongly in favor of him remaining!
  • Word (Score:5, Funny)

    by mazzarin (895581) on Friday June 16, 2006 @07:56AM (#15547921)
    Right, why don't they bring a bunch of new MBA students in to replace them. The fresh new non-tech oriented ideas will surely revitalize the company. /sarcasm meter explodes
    • by Moraelin (679338) on Friday June 16, 2006 @09:30AM (#15548573) Journal
      Actually, Wall Street would love to do the standard rise-the-stock-value-so-we-can-sell-even-if-it-kil ls-the-company dance:

      - bring in a new CEO who promises radical cost-saving changes all over the place (watch stock value invariably rise)

      - have him fire half the workforce, accompanied by giving interviews all over the place about trimming the fat and returning to good ol' capitalism values (ditto)

      - make it an official policy to only hire re-trained ex-burger-flippers and transfer half the remaining jobs to Elbonia and East Bumfuckistan in the next years (look at all those money we were wasting on paying highly-qualified people. Stock price rises some more.)

      - "motivate" the remaining employees with mottos like "your job could be the next one that goes to India", and unrealistic productivity demands. Accompany it with some speeches showing that you see them as a bunch of slackers, just to be sure they have no illusions left that their contribution is appreciated in any form or shape. (Hell, yeah, high productivity here we come. Watch everyone buy MS stock, driving the share value even higher.)

      - drop half the products, on account that they weren't directly making that much money. Never mind that they help form the interlocking whole that makes MS almost impossible to displace in the market. (Ditto.)

      - sell the relevant IP and know-how to competitors for some quick cash (yeehaw, MS income was above estimates this quarter. Let's all rush to buy their shares.)

      - spin off and sell half the acquisitions that MS ever made. Preferrably for less than half the price originally paid for those companies. (Ditto.)

      - reshuffle departments and internal policies for no good reason, just to seem like you're doing something new and radical (ok, by this point it only adds a few more cents per share, but it's better than nothing, you know?)

      - announce some hare-brained new products, but miss the mark or the market by a mile because of having no fucking clue about the technology involved

      - rape the brand recognition, as much as MS does have of it, for some quick buck for the next quarter, at the expense of annoying and losing existing customers

      - take some more flashy measures that'll get lots of press like suddenly rebranding to a new name (and losing most of the brand recognition the old name had), moving to another town, "reinventing oneself" by moving completely into a new market, or whatever

      At this point the big Wall Street names sell their own stock, making a quick profit. The company starts a long and painful downward spiral, a la SGI, except MS has cash reserves to last much longer. The CEO soon moves to another company, with Wall Street's full backing, to do the same again. A few years down the line, MS is as relevant to the OS market as SGI now is to the computer graphics market, but Wall Street have gotten their quick buck already.

      Think I'm exaggerating? Look at what happened to SGI, for example, and then tell me I'm exaggerating. It only took one bright new CEO to do more than half of what I wrote above, and set SGI on a downwards spiral from which it never recovered. Where SGI is now, you already know.
      • by tb3 (313150) on Friday June 16, 2006 @10:31AM (#15549089) Homepage
        Oh, oh, I know this one! They should hire Carly Fiorina! She could wreck Microsoft in no time flat!
      • Look at what happened to SGI, for example, and then tell me I'm exaggerating. It only took one bright new CEO to do more than half of what I wrote above, and set SGI on a downwards spiral from which it never recovered.

        Yes indeed, though I don't know who exactly was driving the process at SGI, I saw it all unfold.

        SGI performed very well in the era when it dominated the graphical Unix workstation market. It had a superior product in an expanding market. The market was strong in significant degree becaus

    • Re:Word (Score:3, Funny)

      by Gilmoure (18428)
      They should hire the CEO from Pepsi. Does he want to sell sugar water all his life?
  • by Tominva1045 (587712) on Friday June 16, 2006 @07:58AM (#15547937)

    If Ballmer and Microsoft had been wildly successful over the past few years most everyone here would be crying for the Microsoft juggernaut to be sunk or TOTALLY disbanded via political / legal means.

    But many say they haven't been wildly successful over the past few years.

    Either way the result is the same: people who don't like Microsoft are going to take pot-shots at them.
    • If they were wildly successful in recent years geeks would complain.

      When they're not successful media and economic pundits plus stock holders complain.

      They'd rather anger the geeks than their investors.
    • Either way the result is the same: people who don't like Microsoft are going to take pot-shots at them.

      Well, yes they well. And there'll be a bunch of folks who will support Microsoft with questions along the line of if you're so smart why aren't you rich. And some will point out that CNN is a subset of Time Warner which is a superset of AOL, and therefore a competitor: so is this generous advice or evil well-poisoning????? And who, really, doesn't enjoy a good chair joke?

      I think that the slippage of Vist

  • by swschrad (312009) on Friday June 16, 2006 @07:59AM (#15547943) Homepage Journal
    ballmer's big problem is he is inflicted with IP disease... he thinks MS owns all of its code, PLUS all of the data and programs folks put on their computers.

    and he needs a cure or he needs to leave, cash in his options, and disappear to a tropical island someplace under a volcano. like seeks like.
    • he thinks MS owns all of its code

      MS doesn't own all of its code? Is there some patent/tm they forgot to file? And if so, what are the steps for me to file it, cause I will just sell it to MS for a mere 10 million.

      While there may be some aberrant piece of code that MS forgot to patent/tm (i doubt it) I am pretty sure MS owns its own code. Until the laws change that is, assuming they do, which you know I don't see in the near future.
    • ballmer's big problem is he is inflicted with IP disease....and he needs a cure

      Perhaps this is the reason that Billy G is focusing on his foundation. He wants to channel more of his time and money in to finding a cure for the horrific and cruel affliction of "Being Steve Ballmer".

      Still, wouldn't mind swapping bank accounts with the guy.
  • by Entropy (6967) on Friday June 16, 2006 @08:01AM (#15547965)
    # Comments are for wusses
    chant()
        for {Microsoft.Employees}
            do
            print "Why %borg should step down." (Microsoft.Employees)

    rejoice()
        for a = 1 to 1000000000
    # This comment does nothing, like comments are good for anything anyways.
        print "REJOICE! The evil Empire is dead! Long live the mighty penguin!"

    main()
        while Microsoft.Exists=1
            chant()
        rejoice()
  • Jeez, CNN! Don't tell them why Ballmer should leave!! It's much more fun for us spectators to watch him flail around inneffectually while his empire crumbles.

    What's next, sending CNN field reporters to the kids' library to point out where Waldo is? Maybe that guy who shouts Harry Potter spoilers at children works for CNN as well.
  • Pundits Gone Wild! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by buckhead_buddy (186384) on Friday June 16, 2006 @08:04AM (#15547980)
    The article quotes Rob Enderle:
    "It's not likely that Ballmer will stay on as CEO after Gates steps down as the company's chief software architect", says Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, who has watched Microsoft (Charts) for almost 20 years. "When you get into a cycle like this, the founders go reasonably soon after each other," says Enderle.

    Putting aside Rob Enderle's other failures as an analyst, I see him as simply trying to get back up on the wave of punditry that he completely missed with the revelation of Bill Gates leaving. If Ballmer doesn't leave, no one will care. If he does, then Enderle looks like he has an inside connection or excellent prognostication ability.

    In reality, I don't see Mr. Ballmer leaving any time soon. The revolt wasn't due to the shareholders as much as Bill Gates just (apparently) getting sick of the day to day. Steve doesn't seem to share that boredom and he certainly doesn't have the hubris to realize that his leaving would be more beneficial to the stock price than any policy he enacts while in the driver seat.

    • > ...Bill Gates just (apparently) getting sick of the day to day...

      Naaah. Gates just turned fifty and he's starting to feel his mortality. He's working on his historical legacy, a la John D. Rockefeller. Meanwhile, Balmer (who also just turned fifty) has no historical legacy outside Microsoft, so expect him to stay.
    • "It's not likely that Rob Enderle will stay loyal to Gates and Ballmer as they step down as the company's Dynamic Duo of Evil", says Nuthell Fortytwo, principal analyst at the Nutshell Group, who has watched Slashdot (Dupes) for almost 7 years. "When you get into a cycle like this, the founders go reasonably soon after each other, and the astroturfers try to get into the good graces of their new masters" says Fortytwo.

    • by cyberformer (257332) on Friday June 16, 2006 @10:24AM (#15549024)
      Enderle appears to be ignorant of Microsoft history, despite his claimed 20-year record. The other Microsoft founder left many years ago (long before Gates).

      Ballmer was just an employee. Gates supposedly promoted him because he was buying stock while other insiders were selling it, demonstrating his faith in the company (and making him very rich, as this was back when MS was much smaller).

  • by layer3switch (783864) on Friday June 16, 2006 @08:05AM (#15547990)
    is like zoo without monkey.
    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1704605405 04066962 [google.com]
  • by ClosedSource (238333) on Friday June 16, 2006 @08:05AM (#15547991)
    "Gates deserves blame for missing the wave of Web-based software that has propelled Google and Yahoo"

    Google and Yahoo's entire business model is web-based and advertisement based. One could just as easily argue that they deserve blame for having such a fragile model. It's not clear if building these web-based applications will be profitable or sustainable. Google in particular seems to be enjoying the same kind of unquestioning support that many dead dot-comms enjoyed.
    • by truthsearch (249536) on Friday June 16, 2006 @08:18AM (#15548073) Homepage Journal
      This is so obviously wrong I was going to ignore it. But I just can't.

      Have you looked at their financials? How are billions in revenue not sustainable? Even before getting money from floating stock Google was making a fortune. And Yahoo SURVIVED the dot-com fallout. Their future could easily turn for the worse, but for years they've proven profitable and sustainable.
      • Take the total revenue made by the company over it's entire life and then subtract all the money invested in the company since it was created. In the case of Google, the result is a negative number.
        • Take the total revenue made by the company over it's entire life and then subtract all the money invested in the company since it was created. In the case of Google, the result is a negative number.
          Do you have a link to back that statement up? I find it highly unlikely. Google, as a start-up, exercised good cost controls. Google has existed for less than eight years. I cannot recall any point in that time where they were bleeding billions of dollars.
      • Then why is Google switching to image-based ads on 3rd party sites? Their entire hook so far has been that they serve up unobtrusive, text-based ads that fit into the page without being (as) annoying. If they're making enough money, why change that? It seems that this whole "advertise on the web" thing may be yet another bubble. It's trendy for now, so people use it in spite of the fact that accounts will get randomly closed for "click fraud" with no recourse, and in spite of the fact that many people have
    • by WhiteWolf666 (145211) <{su.narima} {ta} {niwrehs}> on Friday June 16, 2006 @08:27AM (#15548128) Homepage Journal
      Google and Yahoo's entire business model is web-based and advertisement based. One could just as easily argue that they deserve blame for having such a fragile model. It's not clear if building these web-based applications will be profitable or sustainable. Google in particular seems to be enjoying the same kind of unquestioning support that many dead dot-comms enjoyed.

      And Microsoft's entire business model is monopoly based. One could just as easily argue that it deserves the blame for having such a fragile model. It's not clear that Microsoft will be profitable or sustainable, in a world where their monopoly starts to fade (look at the multi-billion dollar losses in the Xbox division, or the losses in the MSN division). In particular, Microsoft seems to enjoy the same kind of unquestioning support that AT&T once did. Where's AT&T now? That's right; dead and bought for the name rights.

      On the other hand, Google's balance sheet [google.com] is solidly positive. Might be a bit overvalued at $391.00 per share, but that's neither here nor there.
      • "And Microsoft's entire business model is monopoly based."

        Sorry but being a monopoly isn't a business model.
        • Have you read any of Microsoft's SEC filings? All statements regarding revenue outlook are about attacks on their monopoly or ways they're using their desktop monopoly to gain in other markets. Everything in the way they run their business is about the desktop monoploy. I could understand someone saying "being a monopoly" is Microsoft's business model. I've been watching Microsoft for years [msversus.org].
      • Microsoft makes assloads of money off of Windows and Office and then strongarms their way into other markets, usually by either taking advantage of their dominance in the OS market or by simply hemmorhaging piles of money into the project.

        Google makes assloads of money off of web advertising and uses it to strongarm their way into other markets, usually by either taking advantage of their dominance of the search market or by simply hemmorhaging piles of money into the project.

        Google's balance sheet may be s
    • Unproven? Let's look at revenue numbers, shall we?

      4Q 2004: $1.03B gross, $204MM net
      1Q 2005: $1.26B gross, $369.2MM net
      2Q 2005: $1.384B gross, $342.8MM net
      3Q 2005: $1.578B gross, $381.2MM net
      4Q 2005: $1.92B gross, $372.2MM net
      1Q 2006: $2.25B gross, $592.3MM net

      Looks like web-based and advertising based business models are as far from "fragile" as one can be.

    • Google and Yahoo's entire business model is web-based and advertisement based.

      And Microsoft's business model is based on the PC as a general-purpose computer rather than a commodity with limited functions. This is extremely fragile. IBMs business model was based on computers as big central resources, and they got eaten alive by Microsoft and Apple in the '80's. It seems to me likely that Google and Yahoo have a chance at doing the same thing to Microsoft.

      This is not so much about how clever Balmer or Gat
  • Ballmer decided to compete with Oracle and potentially SAP. I don't think M$ can't win against Oracle and SAP, however, looking at growth of Google and Yahoo in same time frame. What he had to do as CEO was so obvious. It was wiser decision to enhance search/web based business to compete Google, Yahoo or anything else than pursuing Oracle with SQL Server and acquiring business software marker like Navision.
  • He's broken all the chairs and had to start throwing interns.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 16, 2006 @08:10AM (#15548027)
    i love this company
  • by mincognito (839071) on Friday June 16, 2006 @08:15AM (#15548058)
    Two words:
    Crazy [google.com]
    lunatic [google.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 16, 2006 @08:24AM (#15548114)
    Armed with pitchforks and torches, the angry mob of investors and users converged upon the Microsoft campus in Redmond. Chairman Bill had long left the area for the safety of other countries. Although his travels were charitable in name, The Chairman's main intent was to place large moats between him and the beligerent American mobs. And now, the evil president created by the chairman was left to his own devices. President Ballmer was trapped. And there were only a few chairs left in the room. He began to panic; what could he throw to show his might?
  • developers developers developers
    my ass, developers
    sweaty bald idiot
    sweaty bald idiot
    sweaty bald idiot
  • Why should Microsoft have been in such a good position for web based software? It's a completely different chunk of the industry from software sales.
    • Mindshare + web browser

      They have a well marketed name that guarantees interest in any web sites they promote. The majority of people who browse the web use their browser. They could add proprietary components to their browser that interact with web pages in ways other sites couldn't easily achieve. They could also hard-code the home page in the next version of IE to go to one of their own sites, sending them millions of visitors.

      The web's a different industry but they could leverage what they have to get
  • by BadassJesus (939844) on Friday June 16, 2006 @08:32AM (#15548162)
    MSFT sales figures are skyrocketing..

    Xbox 360 Sales figures by Peter Moore at E306
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cnufsctQnpU [youtube.com]


    Full 1 hour Microsoft E3 press conference (May 10th 2006)
    main speech comes after the "Gears of War" showdown, its worth the wait..
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cnufsctQnpU [youtube.com]
  • by Dark Paladin (116525) <jhummel@NospaM.johnhummel.net> on Friday June 16, 2006 @08:37AM (#15548201) Homepage
    I'll be the first to admit that I'm not Microsoft's #1 fan - I find thier business practices less than satisfying, and their software usually doesn't light my fires, but I have to give them a lot of credit for their business sense, so I'd like to see them do better.

    Whether Ballmer leaves or not, there needs to be a shake up in the direction of the company, because in my mind, they've lost sight. Right now, they remind me of Sony: floundering about, trying to do several things at once, and not really winning either user love or support. They throw money at problems in the hope of winning something, but it doesn't seem like they really know what they are going to do when they get there except have another potential monopoly - and I think that's where they are failing. They're trying to recreate the Windows dominance, instead of just competing.

    In a sense, it seems like what they keep trying to pursue is power, not money. And it keeps costing them user loyalty and potential revenue.

    Take the Xbox: a $4 billion dollar loss. People can get up and shout "But they're number 2 in console sales", but they have lost $4 billion dollars, and it doesn't seem like they're going to do any better this time. Already the 360 in Japan has been a flop (even interesting looking games like "99 Nights" hasn't helped, through perhaps "Lost Planet" and "Blue Dragon" (if I got the name right) might help), their Xbox lead made users irritated by claiing that "nobody cares about backwards compatibility", a stance that he had to back pedal from as fast as possible. Then again, Sony's trying to figure out how to shoot their foot while sticking it in their mouth at the same time, so maybe they have a chance unless the Wii is as cool as people expect it to. But the Xbox division seems intent on "dominating" the gaming industry. As a counterpoint, look at Nintendo: 3rd place (whenever you take out the handhelds, which I never understand why people ignore), but profitable - and they don't care about being "first", just in making money on every sale.

    Cable TV chasing, application server in big iron areas that hasn't panned out - it just seems like Microsoft's just throwing darts at a board, from what seems like an infinite supply of darts supplied by the Office and Windows monopoly. But if Google chips a little bit there, Apple a little bit there, all of the sudden bleeding money doesn't seem like a good idea.

    My recommendation: they focus on what will make them money, not what will get them power. My father once made a comment that Bill Gates is intent on keeping Larry Ellison the 2nd richest man in the world (or in that area) by not porting MS SQL Server to Linux, Solaris, OS X, and everything else that they can. What if MS Office was *truly* ported to OS X (including true Outlook support instead of the "almost but close" version), with MS Project and Visio, and on Linux?

    Instead of trying to make the world "support our monopoly", new leadership at Microsoft could focus on "what makes money?" Yes, there is a danger in making, say, SQL and Office for OS X and Linux, because that would potentially decrease the Windows desktop sales. But at the same time, it could ensure that if Windows ever goes away, they still have a steady source of income in the future - and it could make them a lot of money now.

    It's a hard change to go from "We dominate the PCs, leverage that dominance and protect it" to "What do our customers want, and how can we fill that gap". Windows dominance has worked so well for so long, that I don't think MS can chance until that dominance is truly challenged. If Apple gets some sort of DarWine system working, if Vista keeps getting delayed, if Google actually makes the OS not matter - MS could be in trouble.

    Granted, the odds are, nothing's going to happen to MS. People have predicted their demise for years, and I don't see things changing for them for 10 years. On the other hand, you never know when that "next big thing" that blows away the cu
    • Take the Xbox: a $4 billion dollar loss. People can get up and shout "But they're number 2 in console sales", but they have lost $4 billion dollars, and it doesn't seem like they're going to do any better this time.

      The 360 has been out less than a year and other consoles haven't even been released yet. It's a little speculative to make that kind of prediction now. It looks like they're going to get a bigger market share this time round, which is what they're after at the moment. They're playing the long g

  • by Danathar (267989) on Friday June 16, 2006 @08:45AM (#15548250) Journal
    Although I HATE giving advice to MS..here it goes.

    1. Get out of the OS biz!

    2. License the Windows API's and other protocols that have practically become de-facto standards to ANY os vendor that wants to use it in their OS. Charge a per/seat license that is similar to the cost of windows now.

    In one fell swoop windows apps would still be what people use/develop (for the most part) and they would not have to worry about all the security headaches the OS has given them. They can make the same amount of money by charging the OS vendors. Linux vendors would give users the option of buying windows application compatibility and I'm sure Apple would as well.
    • Wouldn't that mean MS were just sort of selling a per-seat version of Qt?
      • Something like that yea. BUT..unlike Trolltech they already have an installed base which is 90% of the market so they don't have to claw their way up the marketshare to get acceptance.

        A prime example of a customer might be the military. They could use something like OpenBSD or LINUX or OS X but still develop with the windows API.

        They could do the same thing with DirectX, open the API let gamers buy a copy of the API to install on other OS's (or let the OS Vendors license it).
  • by Billosaur (927319) * <.ten.enilnotpo. .ta. .rehtorgw.> on Friday June 16, 2006 @08:47AM (#15548261) Journal

    Before Redmond runs out of chairs.

  • by OscarGunther (96736) on Friday June 16, 2006 @08:50AM (#15548281) Journal
    Today's WSJ noted that Microsoft backdated its monthly stock option issues from 1992 to 1999 to coincide with its stock's monthly lows. While not strictly illegal, depending on how it was accounted for, the practice was quietly discontinued in 1999 and it's stinky in the current regulatory climate. This should come as no more of a shock than Jeff Skilling's abrupt retirement from Enron. Not saying the two are even remotely related in substance or gravity, but such departures usually happen for a reason that isn't good. Also, given the company's current malaise, it might be a good idea for the current leadership to step aside and let some fresh faces take a crack at running the company.
  • by joshv (13017) on Friday June 16, 2006 @08:53AM (#15548305)
    "Gates deserves blame for missing the wave of Web-based software that has propelled Google and Yahoo."

    Yes, instead they concentrated on making software people actually pay good money for. Google and Yahoo have revenue based for the most part on ads. MS is not in the ad business, though I am sure they sell a few on MSN, it's not really what they are good at.

    MS didn't 'miss the wave', they just continued to make their spectacularly successful products even better, and made a lot of money in the process.

    I am certainly glad that the google's and the yahoo's of the world exert competitive pressure on MS, which helps it overcome its monopolistic inertial. But this impetus is best directed towards adopting and innovating in its core business however. Leave search to google, but if Google Office has some interesting ideas, by all means, MS should use them, improve on them, and hopefully come up with innovative new ideas in an effort to best Google.
    • by saddino (183491)
      MS is not in the ad business

      LOL. Of [msn.com] course [adweek.com] they [microsoft.com] are [msn.com].
  • Tags (Score:4, Funny)

    by palad1 (571416) on Friday June 16, 2006 @08:57AM (#15548343)
    Tags : Chair (tagging beta)

    Now we need to mod tags as well ;)
  • by LibertineR (591918) on Friday June 16, 2006 @09:01AM (#15548370)
    As Steve has gotten older and fatter, so has the company. As Ballmer's temper and desire to kick has been moderated by exposure, so has the company lost its edge. When I worked at Microsoft, the company was all about beating the snot out of the competition. Now, winning doesnt seem to be the goal anymore. Its all about growth, benefits, process and PR. Ballmer used to stock the halls screaming, "Oh, you WILL ship, or you wont be here!" Now, from what I hear, its more like "Oh, please ship on time, okay guys?" Mark L. got it right, they cant ship anymore. Vista is a fucking disaster, whether it ships or not. Today is the first day in 20 years that I dont own a share of Microsoft stock. If Microsoft is going to change, they should put J. Allard in charge.
  • After 6 years of Ballmer, Gates has been looking like a pretty nice guy. Gates had vision. Ballmer just spread a lot of crap about Linux being a cancer and such. And most of Microsoft's products have seen no significant improvement since 2000, just constant retheming, buggy product activation, increased requirements, reduced features to sell higher end editions, and decreased performance (server software aside). The anticompetitive tactics we criticized them for before have grown to become their sole strate
  • by gelfling (6534) on Friday June 16, 2006 @09:32AM (#15548595) Homepage Journal
    Ballmer, yet another Bill Gates crony billionaire thinks that just sitting on his fat ass waiting for Google to wither up and die is the best strategy for Microsoft. But it won't work because Google is actually doing things that MS can't or won't or doesn't want to.

    And the best thing they can come up with in Redmond is to create a turn of the Operating System crank with an unquenchable lust for hardware which will make everyone go out and buy a new PC, which will need OS and upgrades which will need a new PC and so.

    Ballmer must go! Ballmer must go! My stock is where it was in 1998 god damnit.
  • by blueZhift (652272) on Friday June 16, 2006 @09:34AM (#15548608) Homepage Journal
    Seriously, if Balmer were to step down too, the door would be open for some substantial change at Microsoft. Just like the palace revolution Steve Jobs staged on his return to Apple which saw, among other things, the Copeland project dropped in favor of what became the BSD based (essentially) MacOS X, a big change at the top of Microsoft could open the door to MS Linux. The fact is that it is really Office that keeps companies in Microsoft's corner more than Windows itself. Most don't care about the OS, as long as it runs Microsoft Office. MS could still make gobs of money and even cut costs by not having to use so many resources on OS development. They could focus more energy on a great user experience. And being able to offer a great OS at a much lower price, the piracy problem would not be such a big deal anymore. And we all know that the major PC makers would continue to bundle the MS OS along with all of the other stuff they do. Third party software publishers might complain at first, but they would quickly get on board too, to stay in business.

    I know there are plenty of obstacles to this, but the biggest by far is probably the pride of the current leadership.
  • by hey! (33014) on Friday June 16, 2006 @09:35AM (#15548617) Homepage Journal
    I'll tell you a legend that (I promise) bears on this.

    In 1980, Alberto Salazar ran his first NYC marathon and won it with the second fastest US marathon time ever. He won two successive NYC marathons, breaking a twelve year old world record in 1981. He was on his way to being the greatest long distance runner ever. Then came Boston in 1982, and the Duel in the Sun with Dick Beardsley. Beardsley was a great runner of course, but he didn't have Salazar's physical gifts. Salazar had intense pride and incredible mental toughness, but Beardsley was smart and used Salazar's pride as a weapon against him. He did his best to make it look like taking on the world record holder was a walk in the park, which irked Salazar. It was almost disrespectful.

    The day was warm and sunny but there was a cooling headwind. On a day like that, drinking was critical, and Beardsley drank quite a bit, and when he noticed this seemed to bother Salazar, he made a big production out of it. Salazar in his annoyance began to refuse water, doggedly stalked Beardsley mile after mile. At the final mile mark Beardsley looked back and saw that after running over 133 thousand feet, Salazar was only fifteen feet behind him. With delicate brutality, Salazar began to put on speed. Not too much, because in the past dueling lead pairs had broken down and dropped into second and third place.

    With a mere 1800 feet to go out of the total 138,435 ft, Beardsley was bumped by a press vehicle. It wasn't much, but Salazar used this to make his move. He crossed the finish line eleven steps ahead of Beardsley, with a finish time of 2:08:52 to Beardley's 2:08:54 -- a quarter of a tenth of percent difference.

    Salazar was champion and record holder. He was also a broken man.

    Salazar would never run like that again. He went into a physical decline, so that a few years later he could barely jog a mile. In part this was due to the development of asthma, in part it may have been that that final brutal mile, in which Salzar was running six liters low on water, did something to his brain. A decade later, Salazar began to run again with the aid of Prozac.

    The relevance of this story is this: running a marathon is different from running a sprint. And Microsoft is a sprinter. When the new technology land office opens up new vistas, you want to get out there fast and stake your claim. People remark on how agile Microsoft was when it decided to adapt to the Internet. But that kind of reaction is what Microsoft does. They look for an opportunity which they pour resources into so they can quickly pull ahead of the competition so they can establish an unassailable position.

    Running a mature business is different. It's not about running the race for two hours and some change. It's about running forever; it's about the tortoises beginning to overtake the hare. That's when giving it your all isn't enough, you have to husband your resources wisely. Eefficiency steps up and takes an equal place with determination.

    Unless Microsoft can get in on the starting line of something big and new, Microsoft is going to find itself playing hare to an army of tortoises. That means a huge cultural change. Almost certainly, it means new blood in the leadership.

  • by pandrijeczko (588093) on Friday June 16, 2006 @09:45AM (#15548695)
    Nope, I'm no Microsoft fan & Gates is practically angelic when put alongside Ballmer.

    Unfortunately, the same "cancer" (to use an MS "Linux" term) that has affected MS has spread across the entire IT & service industry - namely, a complete redifinition (for the worse) of what is good customer service and what are good products.

    It's because of hype, over-advertising & the gullibilities of the general populace that MS and its ilk can utilise the user community for "live testing" their software after that same community has already paid for it, that Hollywood can make profits from poor quality sequel movies, & that talentless plastic "musicians" (I use the term loosely) can be catapulted to chart success on the basis of a formulaic, manufactured ballad.

    Added to this, customer service used to be about just *asking* your customers whether they were happy with what you did for them and listening to them when they weren't happy - now it's about graphs showing that "95% of all customer calls were answered within 10 seconds" with no mention of the fact that the caller and the agent probably do not share the same native language. But because *EVERYBODY* has done this (banks, utility companies, corporations, etc), everybody now offers lower quality statistical-dependent customer service and the poor customer suffers as a result.

    I'd like to think that the reason for MS's worse fortunes over the past few years was due to we customers becoming more discerning - but then I look at the hideous amount of advertising and hype I'm pumped with every day and realise that if advertising didn't do its job, companies would *decrease* spending on it rather than increasing it...

    No, it's nothing more than the capitalist bubble getting near to popping - Microsoft and all the others have to get greedier & greedier to consume larger and larger profits each year by creating products so fast that they have no time to test them properly before releasing them. In other words, their greed for money, not for serving the customer, is destroying themselves.

    I like living in a capitalist society but capitalism only works when the customer-base exhibits self-control and intelligence before handing money over for any goods or service - unfortunately, 95% of the populace are brainless cattle...

  • by antdude (79039) on Friday June 16, 2006 @10:40AM (#15549156) Homepage Journal
    We need him so we can tease him of his monkey dances, f**king killings, chair throwings, etc. Bill Gates didn't have anything funny like that! Steve had characters. [grin]
  • Actually (Score:3, Funny)

    by Trogre (513942) on Friday June 16, 2006 @06:11PM (#15552458) Homepage
    I think Ballmer is doing a superb job. Please don't get rid of him.

    The sooner he runs that two-bit company into the ground the sooner us IT professionals can get on with our lives.

Mediocrity finds safety in standardization. -- Frederick Crane

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