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Ballmer Speaks on His Solo Act 196

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the but-does-he-do-the-monkey-dance dept.
Carl Bialik from WSJ writes "In his first one-on-one interview since Bill Gates's retirement announcement, Steve Ballmer tells the Wall Street Journal he is bullish on Microsoft's investments in online services, and he dismisses as 'random malarkey' the idea that Microsoft is having trouble hiring and keeping the kind of brilliant employees that have always been the company's competitive weapon. Here's Ballmer on Gates's departure: 'As co-leaders of the business, I could allow Bill to be the full-time champion of innovation. And [now] with me really being the guy who's here every day running the place, I must be the champion of innovation.' And on competing with Google: 'We're going to compete. We're going to be in the online business. We are going to have a core around online. We're going to be excellent. That, I would tell people, to count on...'"
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Ballmer Speaks on His Solo Act

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  • by Junior J. Junior III (192702) on Friday July 28, 2006 @10:18AM (#15798426) Homepage
    Apparently this is as close to admission that they're not presently excellent as we can hope for.
    • I think he meant for it to be taken as "we haven't started yet".
    • Re:Brilliance? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by symbolic (11752) on Friday July 28, 2006 @11:24AM (#15798971)
      and he dismisses as 'random malarkey' the idea that Microsoft is having trouble hiring and keeping the kind of brilliant employees that have always been the company's competitive weapon.

      Um, no. The company's "competitive weapon" doesn't have anything to do with the alleged "brilliance" of its employees, save for the number of inventive ways that the security of its products has been compromised. The company's "competitive weapon" quite simply, is its monopolistic, anti-competitive behavior.
      • You know, Ballmer denies problems and spreads stupid propaganda. The Stalingrad method of empires, a clear sign of fading market trust.

        He does not really talk about business or technology visions.

        His new vision is to challenge iPod by a low cost player that is pushed into the market.
        He buys new market shares by selling unprofitable products.

        No new cash cow. And the power of the old cows is fading. I expect KDE4 to be more intresting than VISTA.
  • by jkrise (535370) on Friday July 28, 2006 @10:18AM (#15798428) Journal
    I thought he spoke about His Solo Monkey Dance Act!

  • by Rik Sweeney (471717) on Friday July 28, 2006 @10:20AM (#15798442) Homepage
    I must be the champion of innovation

    Isn't that spelt

    I must wait for someone to do something clever and then rip it off
    • Re:Spelling error (Score:1, Interesting)

      by venir (971650)
      I liked this bit of hypocritical double speak-

      And [now] with me really being the guy who's here every day running the place, I must be the champion of innovation. That doesn't mean I must be the guy who comes up with every innovation, but I really have to carry the mantle that says we're going to innovate, we're going to do new things, we're going to get into new areas, we're going to protect and nurture all kinds of innovation. That is my role.

      We buy technology, and we grow organically.

      Nice innovation ther

    • Re:Spelling error (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tomstdenis (446163)
      That's just symptomatic of a company who spends more time and resources on HOW to capitalize on ideas and not enough on WHAT ideas to capitalize on.

      In otherwords, they're out of steam.

      If MSFTs idea of innovation is to make Windows "even bigger" then I think it's a good sign they're done for. As far as I'm concerned Vista shouldn't require anything more than WinXP or Win2K requires. These "added bonus value" features like the wasteful GUI, WGA and other random tools are further signs.

      Tom
    • Microsoft's innovation is in software marketing, not technological development. Sadly, they made more money this way than anyone ever made by true innovation.
  • by sharkey (16670) on Friday July 28, 2006 @10:20AM (#15798451)
    The Lone Ballmer toure plans to play 30 venues in 90 days, with 3 nights at each. It will feature such classics as "Developers, Devolpers" along with new hits such as "I'm Gonna Fucking Kill $FOO", a scale model of Stonehenge built from office chairs and Ballmer himself dressed in Andre the Giant's classic leotard.
    • he Lone Ballmer toure plans to play 30 venues in 90 days, with 3 nights at each. It will feature such classics as "Developers, Devolpers" along with new hits such as "I'm Gonna Fucking Kill $FOO", a scale model of Stonehenge built from office chairs and Ballmer himself dressed in Andre the Giant's classic leotard.

      I think that the problem may have been, that there was a Stonehenge monument on the stage that was in danger of being crushed by a dwarf. Alright?
    • a scale model of Stonehenge built from office chairs

      Stonehenge goes modern! I like it! Although, nothing else gets me quite as excited as when he does that monkey dance and jumps around on stage, screaming. Even the "developers" chant isn't quite the same as that one.

      Anyway, I'm kinda busy for the next couple of months. When's the DVD?
    • a scale model of Stonehenge built from office chairs
      After the presentation, an open mic picked up Ballmer saying
      I do not, for one, think that the problem was that the stock was down. I think that the problem may have been, that there was a Stonehenge monument on the stage that was in danger of being crushed by a dwarf. Alright? That tended to understate the hugeness of the object.
    • Ballmer himself dressed in Andre the Giant's classic leotard.

      Well, I might as well divorce my husband and join a convent after that mental image. Now, kindly send me your address in case my husband wants to... er, talk to you.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 28, 2006 @10:21AM (#15798460)
    We're going to compete. We're going to be in the online business. We are going to have a core around online. We're going to be excellent.

    (howard dean voice) YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRGGGGGHHH
  • Come on guys, don't be so rude!
    He will take all his developers ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drLO_LG0W9w [youtube.com] ) and he will what he says.
  • Usual Ballmer (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    By most accounts, Mr. Ballmer is little more than a boorish yahoo who happened to be in the right place at the right time. This interview does nothing to dispel such an impression.
  • by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Friday July 28, 2006 @10:28AM (#15798510)
    I could allow Bill to be the full-time champion of innovation. And [now] with me really being the guy who's here every day running the place, I must be the champion of innovation.

    When Bill was being the "innovative" guy, they generally resorted to copying existing products or entering markets that others had already proven to be successful. Is Steve saying that his approach to "innovation" is a step behind even that?
    • You could say that he's a Deity of Enterprise, so to speak. That makes him Steve BullmerDE, which is about right if you excuse my French... ;) (Actually Freudian Lips) x
    • by SIGALRM (784769) * on Friday July 28, 2006 @10:52AM (#15798705) Journal
      When Bill was being the "innovative" guy
      "Innovation" isn't simply the mechanics of developing something new, innovation often occurs by synthesizing concepts, methods, engineering, etc. into a new idea or technology. For example, the Boeing 777 is considered by many to be innovative, however it is by no means the first commercial jetliner.

      While I find it somewhat awkward to be in the position of defending Bill Gates in the context of "innovation" --he uses that word incessantly IMO--Microsoft does manage to create some truly remarkable influences upon technology, if not the least of which is their corporate culture, which is one of the best examples of a Fortune 500 company cultivating the "small-team mindset" and (arguably) nimble despite exponential growth.
  • Rather scary... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jejones (115979) on Friday July 28, 2006 @10:30AM (#15798522) Journal
    Steve Ballmer, from TFA: "When did China get great? China didn't get great under Mao Zedong. China got great under -- in the recent years -- probably got great under Deng Xiaoping."

    I'm skating on the edge of Godwin, but... it's kind of scary when the head of an organization such as Microsoft cites a totalitarian government as an example of greatness.
    • Scary? Considering this is Microsoft we're talking about, to me this ranks somewhere slightly below surprising, and even then only because its almost an admission. Just watch out for Windows Firewall to start filtering content and blocking non-Microsoft sites.
    • Re:Rather scary... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Friday July 28, 2006 @10:39AM (#15798605) Homepage Journal
      For those unfamiliar with Deng Xiaoping, [wikipedia.org] he's pretty much the guy who rolls tanks over student protesters. [wikipedia.org] But don't try learning that from MSN in China..
    • It ain't scary it is rather sad, marketing and hype for speculative investors with out any real thought or understanding of what he is saying or what direction the company needs to go in, it's more like fingers in the ears and la la laing as the company goes nowhere. For microsoft's sake I hope he wasn't sober at the time of the interview.

      Exploiting a monopoly is not innovation, people have been doing it for centuries and they always, always come to a bitter end.

    • Re:Rather scary... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Dystopian Rebel (714995) on Friday July 28, 2006 @10:52AM (#15798699) Journal
      It is hard to read what this man says without concluding that he is a fool.

      China got "great" long before the dissastrous 20th century. China's history is measured in ~millenia~, Mr Bollocks.

      China invented the first PDA (i.e. paper) thousands of years ago... and it's ~still~ better than Windows CE.
    • Well, in this aspect he is right on the money. Heck, for THAT ballsy statement I would throw couple of ergonomic stools myself!
    • I like the -- in the recent years -- part. In recent years Mao did not make it great, because in recent years Mao was kind of dead.

      Also when looking at modern China, it is exactly Mao who brought it to its greatness as we see it today. I somehow see the comparison. Bill as Mao bringing the country to greatness by overtrowing the tolatarian system at that time (IBM). Steve as Deng maintaining by any means the totalitarian system they themselves have created.

      You can see what happens when the rebels become the
    • If you assume that greatness equals power, and remove from the concept any notion of morality or ethics, then the statement makes perfect sense. That's not necessarily a dig at Microsoft, I think that's an increasingly-common interpretation of greatness these days.
  • Outdated Icon? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by paladinwannabe2 (889776) on Friday July 28, 2006 @10:31AM (#15798526)
    Now that Gates is leaving, will we be replacing the classic "We are Microsoft, you will be assimilated" logo for Microsoft stories? Would we have a Borg Ballmer? A Chair-Throwing Ballmer? Just a M$ in large font?
  • That's where they're going to get their money.
  • What, pray tell, is the point of these interviews with people eager to sell shiH^H^H^stuff and raise stock prices?
    • Letting them sell stuff and raise stock prices. You thought there was some noble goals behind the interviews?
    • by Ruie (30480)
      What, pray tell, is the point of these interviews with people eager to sell shiH^H^H^stuff and raise stock prices?

      If you hear them struggling to piece a coherent sentence together it is time to sell the stock.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Does he shoot Greedo first?
  • by Chabil Ha' (875116) on Friday July 28, 2006 @10:32AM (#15798546)
    I would be a bit worried about Microsoft now that Bill is leaving. I would be worried that a 'geek' has left the innovation chair and is now being turned over to a businessman. That's pretty dangerous, not because he *is* a businessman, but because he is no technological visonary, ie. Steve Jobs.
  • by jrumney (197329)

    he dismisses as 'random malarkey' the idea that Microsoft is having trouble hiring and keeping the kind of brilliant employees that have always been the company's competitive weapon.

    "That's random malarkey! Who needs brilliant employees when we have chairs as our new competitive weapon.", Ballmer responded.

  • He is seriously one of the most egotistical people in corporate America. Somebody needs to take him down a peg. Someone like Steve Jobs or Linus Torovalds is just the person. He has this unshaking conviction that his products are the best and can't be convinced otherwise. Once upon a time this was true, but now it hurts them because they refuse to learn from their users, competitors (no, this does not mean steal, at least not intrinsically), and the changing times. Oh well, it simply hurts him, nobody more.
    • Re:Bloated head (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Chabil Ha' (875116) on Friday July 28, 2006 @10:47AM (#15798661)
      Steve and Linus are braggarts in their own regard, but what they *do* speaks much louder than what they *say*. Especially Linus. As a person I think he's just as egotistical as Balmer, but the revolution he has created as an engineer was created not by words, but actions.

      I think more than anything this is an indicator of the state of Microsoft. If you've got to send the CEO out on PR all the time, then there's some pretty shaking ground that the company is sitting on. Products and services should be able to speak for themselves without the CEO having to go on a media tour to tell how great they are. He's got to go around evangilizing MS because if people (employees as much as customers) hear it enough, they just might start to believe it.
  • With a picture of a chair.
  • by The_REAL_DZA (731082) on Friday July 28, 2006 @10:36AM (#15798575)
    Yeah, I think we can all agree that orderly, predictable malarky is much preferable.
  • by cbuckner (991661) on Friday July 28, 2006 @10:38AM (#15798593)
    Am I the only one that thinks Bill Gates is getting out of the business before Google embarrasses them so that He can blame the company's failure on Ballmer? Think about it. Under Bill Gates Microsoft is a multi-national; multi-billion dollar business. Under Ballmer they get pummeled by Google and Mozilla. Thus, Gates preserves his image as a brilliant mind and doesn't expose himself for being nothing more than a lucky, opportunistic, proprietor hack.
    • No, I really honestly think that one day, Bill Gates woke up, looked into the mirror and noticed a gaping, sucking hole where his soul should have been. In the relentless pursuit of success, he destroyed competitors, crushed dreams and caused well-marketed mediocrity to become king over quieter quality. Suddenly, he couldn't ignore it.

      He looked at the amazing innovations happening in the FOSS community and realized that as terrible a beast as it was, it was one of his own creation, because any company--

    • So you think he's positioning himself to pull a Jobs and make a comeback and save the company after Ballmer rides out the downward, flaming spiral?
  • I agree with all the other comments. We should continue to fawn endlessly over the blue sky projections of every linx/oss startup with a gleam in their eye, but should heap scorn, ridicule, and skepticism at the management of a company that's managed to lead the market, for better or for worse, for over two decades. Or, let's laugh at ballmer because he once jumped around like the big sweaty man he is.

    And you wonder why slashdot stopped being taken seriously a long time ago.

    • Meh. I don't dabble in blue sky. I use Linux on my desktop. And barely use the konsole.

      Linux IS ready for the desktop, and now awaits only adoption.
  • by bhmit1 (2270) on Friday July 28, 2006 @10:39AM (#15798604) Homepage
    He dismisses as 'random malarkey' the idea that Microsoft is having trouble hiring and keeping the kind of brilliant employees that have always been the company's competitive weapon.
    When you're that big and popular, I don't doubt that you have an easy time finding talented developers. Sure, you will lose some to the other cool companies like google, but that's not microsoft's problem. The problem is that they are popular because all the applications are written for the current version of microsoft, and the existing code is extremely complicated. They are also the majority, if not the monopoly in many parts of the industry. The result is that you can only lead the industry by abusing your monopoly powers since drastic innovative code changes cause all those applications to start breaking. And with the complex code, any improvement is likely to be drastic. The end result is that competitors pull away parts of your customer base one bit at a time and you are constantly playing catch-up to avoid losing your majority.
    • They probably don't have to much trouble hiring new developers from outside of Redmond, but there are a lot of very talented people in the Seattle area who have absolutely no desire to work for MS or to go back to work for MS. I suspect the further you get from Redmond the more glamerous working at Microsoft must look to many people.
  • by aschoeff (864154) on Friday July 28, 2006 @10:43AM (#15798637)
    'And [now] with me really being the guy who's here every day running the place, I must be the champion of innovation.'

    QED
    • All Microsoft really needs is an idea guy. Some kind of eccentric with brilliant ideas and the authority to have them carried out.

      Or, they can switch to Google's model and have ALL employees be the idea guy. If you've got the best and brightest working there, what so hard about letting them go all mad scientist for a day?
    • And [now] with me really being the guy who's here every day running the place, I must be the champion of innovation.'

      Seriously. When I read this, I swore I felt a great disturbance, as if millions of stockholders suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.

  • Interesting (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Klaidas (981300) on Friday July 28, 2006 @10:46AM (#15798650)
    I see the storyline is very interesting...
    First, Microsoft itself prefers to use Google: http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/06/22/029 243 [slashdot.org]
    Then, Microsoft "warns google away": http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/07/16/204324 2 [slashdot.org]
    After that, they change their mind and are going to allow competitive search: http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/07/19/217 218 [slashdot.org]
    And now, they are going to
    "compete. We're going to be in the online business. We are going to have a core around online. We're going to be excellent"

    What's going to be next?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Favourite quote "There are very few areas where, except for Microsoft Bob, we haven't succeeded or where we're [still] telling you we are going to succeed"
    Well apart from the Xbox division, which continues to haemorrhage money, MP3 players, where you're yet to make any serious impression, search, where Google and Yahoo continue to dominate, packaged enterprise applications, where SAP and Oracle dominate, Business Intelligence, where BusinessObjects, Cognos and SAS continue to dominate, and .NET, which conti
  • Steve Ballmer tells the Wall Street Journal he is bullish on Microsoft's investments in online services, and he dismisses as 'random malarkey' the idea that Microsoft is having trouble hiring and keeping the kind of brilliant employees that have always been the company's competitive weapon.

    In other words, Steve Ballmer tells his shareholders exactly what he thinks they want to hear. Or what he wants them to hear so that they keep buying stock. Kind of like how our builders told us 9 months ago that our town
  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Friday July 28, 2006 @11:04AM (#15798788) Homepage
    They talk about some specific thing they personally want to do.

    BIll Gates didn't say "I want to make innovative software," he said he wanted a computer on every desk and Microsoft software in that computer.

    Edwin Land didn't say "I want to develop innovative imaging-related products for the consumer and technical markets," he said "Marketing is what you do when your product is no good" and "The bottom line is in heaven."

     
  • No chairs were hurt during the taping of this interview.
  • Mindless cheerleading.

    I have observed that once an organizations reaches a certain size that CEO's, unless they are buying something, selling something or laying people off, are not much more than cheerleaders. Taking thousands of people and getting them to go in one direction is very hard, like steering a frieghter. It takes time. Usually years. Often on a scal of decades.

    The quickest ways to change an organization that large is just to fire people and then rehire. Spin off under performing divisions, sell
  • Out of curiosity. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by glas_gow (961896)
    We're going to be in the online business. We are going to have a core around online.

    For how many years have Microsoft been touting this line, that they are going to revolutionise the online world? For the life of me, I can't think of one Microsoft online service that has caused even a murmur never mind a wave of avid followers. Unless you count IE and WMF vulnerabilities as having a "core around online."

  • by multimediavt (965608) on Friday July 28, 2006 @11:38AM (#15799128)
    I'm sorry, but the more interviews I watch and read with Ballmer the more I think that guy is a complete idiot. I think he truly is the dumbest successful person I've *EVER* seen. He talks with the vocabulary of a high school drop out. "{W}e're one of the highest payers in our industry." Payers?!?! WTF! Moron.
  • by IGnatius T Foobar (4328) on Friday July 28, 2006 @11:39AM (#15799139) Homepage Journal
    "Not only are we going to kill Google, we're going to kill Adobe and IBM and Red Hat and Sybase and Oracle! We're going to kill Yahoo and SalesForce.com and eBay! And we're going to kill RealNetworks and AOL and Sony and Nintendo! And then we're going to Washington, D.C. to throw chairs in the White House! Yeeeeeaaaaaah! Developers developers developers!!!"
  • >> having trouble hiring and keeping the kind of brilliant employees that have always been the company's competitive weapon.

    The problem is that Microsoft, like many companies, hire good engineers then don't give them enough freedom or listen to their ideas. Consequently, the good engineers get disillusioned and leave and only the bad engineers stay around. Thats one of the reasons why most Microsoft software is a piece of sh1t.
  • I think Slashdot needs a new logo for Microsoft executive stories now.

    A flying chair would be a good start.

  • For those who haven't seen Salesman Balmer [youtube.com] in his younger days...

    Looks like a used car salesman. Clearly the guy is out of his depth, Gates made a mistake in passing the company to him.
  • So... (Score:2, Funny)

    by eno2001 (527078)
    ...the business geek [imdb.com] retired and left the company in the hands of the frat house human mascot [imdb.com]? ;P

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