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Microsoft Businesses

Does Ballmer Need To Go? 568

Posted by kdawson
from the strike-two-and-the-crowd-goes-wild dept.
Pickens notes a TechCrunch analysis wondering — after Windows Vista and the failed Yahoo bid — whether Steve Ballmer's days at Microsoft are numbered. "Ballmer has been the big driver behind [the Yahoo] deal at Microsoft — some would say to the point of obsession. After the disaster that has been Windows Vista, Ballmer may have realized he needed to redeem himself in the eyes of Microsoft's board. And the 'transformative' deal with Yahoo was the way he was going to do it... If Microsoft's board loses patience with him, it might have to ask Bill Gates to temporarily come back as CEO until it finds a replacement. After all, Ballmer has already made a strong and convincing case for why Microsoft needs Yahoo to make its online and advertising strategy work. It's not clear whether Microsoft can achieve its objectives on its own or through other acquisitions. Maybe Ballmer thinks he can still do the deal by making Yahoo's stock price collapse and come back with a hostile offer."
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Does Ballmer Need To Go?

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  • yes - duh (Score:5, Funny)

    by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @02:57AM (#23309144) Homepage Journal
    And, the slowest moving company award goes to.......
    • yes - but (Score:5, Funny)

      by Cryacin (657549) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @02:59AM (#23309152)
      The fastest moving chair in a company award goes to...
    • why? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by someone1234 (830754)
      As the summary said, he still has a chance to get Yahoo. We, who see him as a sweaty gorilla, are not necessarily see his qualities as the M$ board sees them.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mattcasters (67972)
        Look at it this way: if the slashdot crowd had any say in it, he would have been gone long ago :-)
        • Re:why? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Foofoobar (318279) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @11:53AM (#23312902)
          Oh hell no... I say let him stay. A few more decisions like Vista, Zune and the DRM and Microsoft just becomes another Novell; the only two things they make that people really HAVE to have are Xbox and Exchange. Even Office is becoming optional now.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @03:16AM (#23309246)
      Ballmer took over in 2000. Here is Microsoft's stock performance since 2000:

      http://finance.yahoo.com/q/bc?s=MSFT&t=my&l=on&z=m&q=l&c= [yahoo.com]

      Ballmer is responsible for:

      * The 7+ billion dollar Xbox fiasco

      * The Zune marketplace flop

      * The PR disaster that Vista has become

      * Mass exodus of Microsoft employees to Google and other exciting and growing companies

      * A total failure to get anywhere with Search and Advertising

      Ballmer has been a complete failure in every single effort by Microsoft to create viable products outside of their core OS/office software/server software products.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @04:37AM (#23309630)

        Ballmer took over in 2000. Here is Microsoft's stock performance since 2000:

        http://finance.yahoo.com/q/bc?s=MSFT&t=my&l=on&z=m&q=l&c= [yahoo.com]

        Here is the performance of the NASDAQ COMPUTER index since 2000:

        http://finance.yahoo.com/q/bc?s=%5EIXK&t=my&l=on&z=m&q=l&c= [yahoo.com]

        Does that look familiar? (The "Interactive" option allows you to put MSFT on the same chart.)

        Doesn't anyone remember the Dot-com bubble [wikipedia.org] and all those new clueless investors overvaluing any tech company that looked somewhat successful? Note that MSFT's P/E ratio is currently at a somewhat sane 16.9.

      • by mrbluze (1034940) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @04:46AM (#23309660) Journal

        Ballmer is responsible for:

        [... pretty much everything that microsoft did for eight years which, for microsoft, was a bad move...]

        Yeah, but how is this bad for anyone else but Microsoft Corp? I say keep Ballmer and watch everybody else grow!
      • by dhavleak (912889) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @04:48AM (#23309674)

        Ballmer took over in 2000...
        Ballmer took over after (or around) the US DOJ ruling on MSFT. Under Ballmer, MS has been functioning under very heavy regulatory oversight, running scared from lawsuits (alcatel-lucent, the big antivirus vendors, adobe, google, just about everyone has sued or threatened to sue), been treated like an ATM machine by the EU, and much more.

        Your point about the stock price is still valid, but there is the dot com bubble burst that affected MSFT as much as everybody else that you need to factor in.

        A more accurate assessment would be:
        - Net income has gone up from 8 billion to 14 billion per year
        - Headcount has increased from 35,000 to 80,000
        - Revenue has increased from 25 billions dollars to 51 billion dollars per year

        From what you read about MS on this site, you'd think it's demise is pretty imminent. The numbers tell a different tale, and they don't make Ballmer look too bad either.

        The 'demise being imminent' part isn't too far fetched of course -- MS is under threat from all directions (linux, apple, google, adobe, sony, ibm, ...). But most importantly it isn't clear how much longer their current business model is viable. That's what the yahoo offer was about. Most companies would be in denial about it, if they were able to continuously generate the sort of numbers MS does. Upper management would be full of back-slapping, and big bonuses. MSFT is very aware of the problems facing them, and the credit needs to go to the top dog -- Ballmer.

        • by OpenSourced (323149) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @07:14AM (#23310238) Journal
          - Headcount has increased from 35,000 to 80,000

          Is that supposed to be a good thing? After all, you have to pay them. And looking it against your other figures, you get that, by more than doubling the people, you just double the revenue and not even double the income. So the income generated per person has in fact diminished.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by hackstraw (262471)
          But most importantly it isn't clear how much longer their current business model is viable.

          What does someone speculate as Microsoft's business model?

          Yesterday, I saw posted here on /. this quote from BG to the DOJ There's no level of performance or specific application of corporate information systems that we don't intend to go after... [and] there won't be anything we won't say to people to try and convince them that our way is the way to go. [justice.gov]

          That seems to be their business model, which defies most all of t
        • Ballmer took over in 2000...
            - Headcount has increased from 35,000 to 80,000
          Chair count has fluctuated wildly and now stands at 52,000.

        • Had to stop at "been treated like an ATM machine by the EU". Ever consider there might be some merit to the EU's side of the argument?
      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @05:03AM (#23309708)
        I left at the peak. Not just luck of course. Also not just smelling the coffee. It was a feedback effect. By leaving, someone not quite as talented took my place. And soon more people decided it was time to leave. Of course, it didnt just happen to me, but I really do feel if I had stayed things could have been different. Its just that, well, too many parasites and glommed on and it just wasn't worth fighting them anymore.

        While I think Ballmer is certainly responsible, the problems really started much earlier. I blame Melinda for taking the edge off Bill, seriouly, he was a changed man after he got married. Balmer picked up the slack and quite frankly, hes an overbearing personality with no technical knowledge.

        One of my heroes, Chris Peters had said that in order to have a successful product, you must reduce all dependencies. After he left, Ballmer changed the strategy: he actually told everyone to increase their dependencies on other teams. I think he must have been influenced by some of those self-help gurus who talk about the stages of maturity (dependence,independence, inter-dependence) and misapplied the lessons. Whatever it was, working at MS became a real chore and jerks, megalomaniacs and scammers began get power and the BS built up.
        I doubt MS can ever recover from this period, its stock will never rise significantly again.
      • by hey! (33014) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @05:21AM (#23309790) Homepage Journal
        Actually, the stock's performance is surprisingly GOOD.

        The 1990s was the end of the era of PC adoption. I started work in the early 80's, which with the introduction of the microcomputer was the star of that era. Back in the late 80's and early 90's, we never bought computers onesies and twosies, we bought them literally by the truckload to computer-up entire departments at a time. It's been widely observed that while Microsoft was strongly against "software piracy" ideologically, it benefited from a certain level of "piracy" through economic network effects. Worrying about "piracy" was like worrying about the little fish that slipped through the holes in your net, whilst your net was completely full of big fish.

        Microsoft was a company that was predicated on exponential growth in demand for its products. In the 80s through mid 90s it was driven by PC adoption, but the thoughtful among us always believed that was not sustainable. In the mid to late 90s the era of exponential adoption was extended for a few years by the dot com bubble.

        Where are the exponential growth drivers of the twenty-first century? Well, there aren't any like the 80s-90s, but to the degree they exist they are in consumer markets. Microsoft had never been a consumer company. It never had consumer loyalty. It was a company that sold things to people who make purchase decisions on the behalf of others.

        Microsoft's XBox and Zune efforts were, in the culture of Microsoft, bold and appropriate steps. Microsoft has for most of its existence been defined by dramatic, market beating growth. That is not in the cards in its PC software business. So it "had to" go where the growth was. They are strategic products. XBox is the more successful of the two, but arguably Zune is the more strategically important, because it is an attempt by Microsoft to leverage its PC monopoly into becoming a pinch point for digital entertainment providers.

        It has a formula for digital entertainment, and it's the good old one that's worked so often for them before: appeal to people who make decisions on the behalf of consumers. In this case it's all about DRM. DRM isn't just an ideological choice, it's a strategic choice for Microsoft. What they offer is control of the platform. They offer some of that control to content oriented companies so those companies can extract more revenue from their customers. Consumers go with Microsoft because they can't get the content they want anywhere else. Like a many strategies, it's reasonable on paper, but real world considerations make it a lot harder than it sounds. Microsoft has to deal with a competitor with lots of vision for the future (Apple) and partners with no vision for the future other than to delay its coming as long as possible (the entertainment industry).

        Without taking anything away from Bill Gates brilliance as a businessman, Ballmer had it a lot harder than Gates ever had. Bringing back Gates might improve discipline, or it might not. The company is inherently less focused than it was a decade ago.

        What Microsoft really needs is new blood.

        There are two choices: either it makes a serious bid to become a dominant player in consumer technology, or it becomes more conservative in how it throws money at grand strategies.

        They're both reasonable options. I once heard an investment adviser say he had Procter and Gamble in his portfolio because if people stopped buying soap, most of his other assumptions about the world would probably be wrong as well. A company like P&G is continually creating new products, but nobody expects them to double their size every five years. You manage a company like that to produce profit, and growth is a welcome side effect. For years Microsoft ran things the opposite way: aim for growth and profits will come.

        The right leader will take them one or the other path, although he'll face a lot of doubters, because neither of those choices is how Microsoft got where it is today. But bringing back Gates won't turn back the clock twenty years.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Tom (822)

        Ballmer is responsible for:
        No, he isn't. Most of these were underway or on the horizon when he took over.

        Gates was simply smart enough to leave at the high point, so he'll be remembered for the good (for MS) things he did. He bailed out before the crap he did started biting him in the behind. He probably told Balmer in a closed-door meeting that his job would be to take the shit straight in the face without flinching, and that he'd get $$$ for it.
      • Inflation? (Score:4, Informative)

        by HangingChad (677530) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @09:35AM (#23311226) Homepage

        Ballmer took over in 2000. Here is Microsoft's stock performance since 2000:

        I'd like to see that chart adjusted for inflation. Bet it tells an even more interesting tale.

        Microsoft's corporate execution wasn't great before Ballmer got there, but since he took the reigns it's been positively dismal. There aren't many people who can run a multi-billion dollar software company into the ground, but he's managed it. Everything he touches turns to absolute crap.

        Ballmer has been a complete failure in every single effort by Microsoft to create viable products outside of their core OS/office software/server software products.

        I'd argue that he's turned Office into an expensive piece of bloatware. And Windows should have been replaced after XP with a more flexible and slimmer OS product.

        Microsoft execution has been horrible and that includes their core profit centers. Instead of putting their efforts into producing the best software products available in the market (not the same as the most ubiquitous), Ballmer put his efforts into flying around trying to strong arm big cities and companies not to jump ship for Linux and OpenOffice.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Okonomiyaki (662220)
        Only one man can save Microsoft now. But where is Gil Amelio when they really need him?
  • Three words (Score:5, Funny)

    by TRRosen (720617) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @03:02AM (#23309166)
    YES...YES...YES...!!!!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jorghis (1000092)
      I can see the argument for these "Microsoft is dieing!" stories when you are talking about the technical merits of their software. I dont agree with it, but I can understand where people are coming from. It really seems like people will just grasp at anything that speaks negatively of anyone/anything in any way associated with MS regardless of how little sense it makes.

      Claiming that the board is angry and looking to oust the CEO is just beyond ridiculous though. MS has always done an amazing job from a f
    • No no no! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @03:25AM (#23309290)
      I quite like to see MS going down the tubes.
  • by eclectro (227083) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @03:03AM (#23309172)
    Microsoft dropped the Ballmer.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jkrise (535370)
      If Ballmer wanted to redeem his reputation and save his seat after the Vista disaster, he should've boldly declared that Vista was officially being recalled by Microsoft. All current Vista users should've been given a free license of XP Pro / Media Center edition / XP Home.

      As it is, Ballmer will still have to decide on whether to allow / discontinue XP Retail and XP - OEM after June 30. Given that Dell, HP and IBM are pi**ing in their pants about the prospect, and finding ways to still offer XP - it shows c
    • by koko775 (617640) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @04:23AM (#23309582)
      *sigh* No, no it didn't.

      To be honest, the only reason I go to Slashdot anymore over programming.reddit & news.ycombinator is because the comments and moderation are better and I get a higher %age of stories relevant to my interests. But then I see this epitome of lazy editing...sigh.

      Here's the link for your reference:
      http://www.alleyinsider.com/2008/5/battered_yahoo_caves_admits_it_overplayed_hand_now_open_to_new_microsoft_talks [alleyinsider.com]
      As the url would imply, Yahoo is caving. Ballmer is thus (much to my dismay) validated.
      • by xtracto (837672) * on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @07:45AM (#23310370) Journal
        This kind of stories is what makes slashdot so funny for me.

        You got all these anti-Microsoft zealots so eager to bash and say things about Ballmer and anything at Microsoft even when they do not have any idea of what they are talking about.

        Meanwhile, Steve Ballmer played a very good hand, knowing that Jerry was bluffing. It is funny to read those comments showing the "proofs" of how Microsoft is doing so bad, how its stock is going down and how they are at the edge of a disastrous crisis.

        If we talk about "reality distortion fields", a lot of guys (the majority?) of people frequently commenting on slashdot are really affected by the anti-Microsoft zealotry. They really should get out of their basements... they would be surprised.

        As the article you point says, Ballmer played a really clever hand. At the end, Microsoft did know that the stockholders would very gladly accept their offer.

        As it can be seen in the article pointed by parent post and other business related articles, Yahoo! major stockholders are not basement-nerds or bearded-Free software-zealots. They are the one of the most successful asset management firms who do not care about the religious wars but only about how much is the stock. And the reality is that the offer made by Microsoft was a good one.

        Now, after Ballmer drop the offer, the reaction was a lowering of Yahoo!'s stock price. And, as it is said, ultimately it will result in a better bang for the buck for Microsoft.

        If there is any CEO who may be thrown out, it is not Steve, but Jerry.
  • Raise time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Harmonious Botch (921977) * on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @03:05AM (#23309184) Homepage Journal
    TFA seems to assume that Balmer wanted to aquire Yahoo, and then did it entirely on his own initiative. That is certainly not the case. Even in a company as big as MS, the CEO does not go about spending that kind of money without the approval of major stockholders. He must have had the blessing of at least Bill Gates and Paul Allen, and probably others.
    All of them knew going in that Yahoo had to voluntarily cooperate. So they know that Balmer is not to blame. So they are not going to dismiss him. They are going to go to plan B: the hostile takeover.
    And what kind of person do you want leading a hostile takeover? You want the most vicious, gut-ripping, back-stabbing, ball-cutting executive you can find. They'll give him a raise.
  • by timmarhy (659436) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @03:06AM (#23309192)
    all the conspiracy theories are too over the top. the business world is no where near this dramatic.
  • by Eskarel (565631) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @03:09AM (#23309202)
    It was more Microsoft offered them quite a reasonable price for it($33 per share), the Yahoo board asked for substantially more($37 per share) refused to budge and Microsoft said forget it.

    The yahoo board are more likely to be fired by the shareholders than Balmer.

    For that matter Vista isn't really all that much of a failure in the long run, it gets a lot of bad press, but it's not a horrible OS, and even if financially it does turn into the next ME, the lessons they've learned will still be useful in the next OS.

    Balmer has been with Microsoft for a long time, and given that everyone will think that the Microsoft CEO is a vicious, greedy, vindictive SOB even if they put a saint in the position, they may as well get the benefits of an actual vicious, greedy, vindictive SOB.

    • by SuperKendall (25149) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @03:14AM (#23309226)
      The yahoo board are more likely to be fired by the shareholders than Balmer.

      I don't think anyone is saying people at Yahoo are not going to face some heat either. They're just saying that the whole deal was really pushed by Balmer and since he couldn't make it happen, he may well pay.

      For that matter Vista isn't really all that much of a failure in the long run, it gets a lot of bad press, but it's not a horrible OS,

      Doesn't matter how good it is if it continues to get horrible press.

      Balmer has been with Microsoft for a long time, and given that everyone will think that the Microsoft CEO is a vicious, greedy, vindictive SOB even if they put a saint in the position, they may as well get the benefits of an actual vicious, greedy, vindictive SOB.

      But there's the problem. He doesn't come off looking very vicious or greedy when he backs off at the first counteroffer. "Lame Duck" springs to mind.

  • by will_die (586523) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @03:11AM (#23309214) Homepage
    That Microsoft did not get Yahoo is not something that Ballmer or Microsoft will not be blamed for. He set a price and when it was not accepted tried various negoiations and when that failed he walked away. Smart business.
    He now just has to show how Microsoft will build software to fit the roll Yahoo would, but he has this year or longer to do that.

    Now if you are the CEO of Yahoo you better be about to deliever the golden goose.
  • Yes, but he won't (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rastoboy29 (807168) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @03:21AM (#23309264) Homepage
    He and Gates surely control enough stock to do as they please.  After all, if the board hasn't come after them after six billion down the hole for Vista, they aren't going to come after them for anything.

    Both those guys are convinced they're geniuses, too, which is not conducive to stepping aside for someone else.  And to be fair, given the corporate culture they've carefully nurtured, I seriously doubt any of those waiting in the wings could do a better job, anyway, so fuck it you know?

    I bet they still both wish they were Steve Jobs tho. ;-)
    • Re:Yes, but he won't (Score:5, Informative)

      by icebike (68054) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @03:32AM (#23309328)
      > He and Gates surely control enough stock to do as they please.

      Not true: Check the holdings:
      http://finance.yahoo.com/q/ks?s=MSFT [yahoo.com]

      % Held by Insiders1: 13.42%
      % Held by Institutions1:62.70%

      If the institutions (banks, mutual funds, hedge funds, etc) want Steve out the door, he's gone.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jcr (53032)
        Any money managers who still have MSFT in their portfolio should be dismissed by their own shareholders. There's no excuse for holding shares of a company that's been underperforming the S&P 500 and the NASDAQ indexes for the last five years.

        -jcr
      • Re:Yes, but he won't (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @07:59AM (#23310452) Homepage
        and honestly that is when all good companies start the drain spiral. The men with vision and drive for the company no longer in charge but bean counters.

        when the bean counters are driving the ship they only look 30-90 feet in front of the bow. The refuse to adjust course for any reason unless they see it within that 30-90 foot window. It's not cost effective to steer around the iceberg that is on the horizon. It's more profitable to keep steaming at it full speed.

        The WORST thing for a company is to go public and have most of the stock owned by someone other than the principals that started the place.
  • Borg Icon (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheNetAvenger (624455) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @03:28AM (#23309310)
    The SlashDot Borg Icon for Microsoft needs to be Ballmer not Gates.

    In Microsoft there are two sets of crowds, the Gates set and the Ballmer set.

    The Gates set is more apt to give stuff to users, do things the right way, and has been the underpinnings of things MS has gotten right or had done right by the IT world as a whole. They tend to take what they do seriously, have pride in Microsoft and want it to continue to succeed for the right reasons, etc.

    The Ballmer group are the business minded, make a buck, and screw you type of people. They step on each other, screw over other projects if it gains them something, and could give a crap about the IT world or even Microsoft itself in the long run.

    When you see the 4 versions of Vista, this was the result of the Ballmer crowd and OEMs wanting a dirt cheap version. The Gates crowd kept NT as two roles, Desktop and Server, but sadly the Ballmer nuts won that war cause they thought it would make MS an extra buck.

    Gates = technology and empowering.
    Ballmer = dominance and money.

    Sadly Gates assumes that because most businesses think like Ballmer that Ballmer is doing the right thing, when Microsoft could be structured more like Gate's foundation and not only help the IT world more, but be just as profitable.

    I would love to see Ballmer retire and the idiots that think like him go as well.
    • I hope I got that wrong, but that's the first impression I got from reading your post. Although I would agree with you that Gates is less of a bull in a chine shop than Gates is, I don't think I'd trust Gates as far as I could throw him either. We have seen enough charades over the past (and these days with the Foundation) to be pretty sure Gates isn't a fair player either.

      However, Yahoo as well as buying their way through the ISO process are indeed very much Ballmer. Gates would have been a lot more sub
  • Vista (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Toreo asesino (951231) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @03:30AM (#23309316) Journal

    After the disaster that has been Windows Vista
    Vista is the 2nd most used OS in the world for desktop PCs and laptops; I wonder how you would quantify it being a disaster (the fact you might dislike it not counting of course). You could claim it's not the most popular Windows to have come out, but disaster it is not. Money talks, bullshit walks, as they say.
    • Re:Vista (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Aranykai (1053846) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [resnogls]> on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @03:43AM (#23309374)
      Lets see some numbers to back up those claims eh smarty pants?

      Anyways, Vista may be "the 2nd most used OS in the world for desktop PC's", but how bout we compare its lifespan to ANY other OS release. I would still be using Windows 2000 if there werent a few select applications(mainly games) that I cant trick into running on it. I know there are several others out there who are the same.

      People buy into the bullshit marketing. Its not that the product has merit, its that they are foolish enough to believe the promises made. How many millions of people buy those weight loss supplements, or male enhancement supplements? Because there are lots of people using something doesn't mean its a quality product.
      • Re:Vista (Score:5, Informative)

        by webplay (903555) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @07:44AM (#23310364)
        Sorry, but he is correct. Here are the Google Analytics stats from a top 200 U.S.-based general interest website from yesterday (May 5):
        Operating System contribution to total:
        1. Windows 91.86%
        2. Macintosh 7.12%
        3. Linux 0.69%
        4. iPhone 0.13%

        Versions of Windows:
        1. XP 80.44%
        2. Vista 14.65%
        3. 2000 3.31%
        4. Server 2003 0.80%
        5. 98 0.68%
    • Vista is indeed a disaster. It failed to stop Apple from continuing its growth. Macs are less value performance-wise than PCs, and regular people still buy ever more Macs. I think it is because OS X is easier to use and more secure than Vista. Microsoft is losing its grip on the consumer market, and will most likely end up competing on the corporate market. Oh, and XBox360. I'll give them that - the XBox360 is not so bad.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by wpiman (739077)
        People claimed that XP was a disaster when it first came out. Now, it is the most stable version of Windows ever. I have a dual boot of Ubuntu on my home machine, but I rarely use it. XP is very stable, I run it on my home control PC, my desktop, my laptop, and even my CarPC. I occasionally use Linux machines for builds and simulation, but only when I need to exceed the 3.4 Gb memory space within XP 32.

        I don't use Vista, and the one time I tried it it did manage to piss me off. That said, my money is

  • by quarrel (194077) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @03:48AM (#23309408)
    Bill Gates is still the Chairman, the largest shareholder and founder.

    Stevie B is the second largest shareholder.

    Between Billy G and Stevie B they hold over 10% of the company (a lot for a large cap company).

    Surely the only way Steve gets rolled as CEO is if Bill loses all faith in him, and given their long relationship this seems unlikely.

    I doubt very much that in the face of a hostile Bill the board has any hope of removing him even if they, and their institutional shareholders are unhappy with his performance.

    It seems exceedingly unlikely that on the back of these problems they'd get rid of him. If it ever got remotely near that, he and Bill would have a word and he'd "retire to spend more time with his family".

    --Q
  • i hate balmer (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ionix5891 (1228718) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @03:58AM (#23309456)
    but i have to give it to him (or microsoft) this was a great move, now yahoos own disgruntled shareholders will do the dirty work for Microsoft

    i mean the whole takeover thing was a win win for microsoft

    they managed to seriously knock their competitor of-track withoutt spending a penny
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by analog_line (465182)
      Not a penny, except the 20+ billion in losses to shareholders of Microsoft stock as of yesterday.
  • by Xest (935314) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @04:01AM (#23309468)
    "Ballmer has been the big driver behind [the Yahoo] deal at Microsoft -- some would say to the point of obsession."

    Yet when the bid failed he seemed quite able to drop it. I wouldn't call that obsession, obsession would've been continuing the bid until they got Yahoo no matter how costly and damaging to Microsoft. He knew when to quit and he did.

    Of course then the summary goes on to bitch at him FOR dropping it. Make up your mind, was it bad that he continued as far as he did to the point the summary feels he deserves to be called obsessive over it or not?
  • It's hard to tell (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sentientbrendan (316150) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @04:02AM (#23309478)
    whether some of these fiascos are Balmer's fault. Particularly, what happened with vista. It's very plausible that Vista died of feature bloat because Balmer didn't pay enough attention to it in the beginning; however, it's hard to tell from the outside who was really responsible.

    Either way though, It's clear that some kind of shakeup needs to occur for Microsoft to continue to compete. I just don't see Microsoft being able to expand into new markets using the clumsy "throw money at the problem" approach that post-gates Microsoft has used. Money's an important tool for a company the size of Microsoft, but it can't cover up underlying problems, like a project that suffering feature creep, or a corporate culture that suppresses bottom up innovation.

    Bill Gates seemed to run a much tighter ship overall, with a supposedly fairly "hands on" management style. However, it is true that Microsoft was a much smaller company under Gate's tenure, and I'm not sure he would be the man to put back in charge of the new Microsoft.
  • by jcr (53032) <jcr&mac,com> on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @04:13AM (#23309540) Journal
    MSFT has been underperforming the exchange indices for as long as Ballmer's been in charge. Now that MSFT is not, and will never again be a growth stock, it should be a dividend stock. Every billion dollars that MSFT pisses away on failures like the zune or the Xbox, is shareholders' money being wasted on Ballmer's ego trips.

    -jcr
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Toreo asesino (951231)
      I personally think it's more that Ballmer if anything, just wasn't on the ball with new emerging tech....portal music and internet search come to mind as current examples, but the XBox is doing ok - coming from nothing to something in a crowded market like that is quite impressive.

      Remember, it took IE 3 major revisions before it became the dominant browser for example. It took IIS 6 major revisions to become a serious contender to Apache.

      I don't think it'll be that easy on the two failing business areas I m
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nurb432 (527695)
      While i think he's a clueless ( but obscenely wealthy ) unstable prick as well, I wouldn't call zune or xbox personal ego trips, id call them failed attempts to try to catch up with everyone else.
  • by feepness (543479) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @04:28AM (#23309600) Homepage
    How long has he been in the car?

    I'm not pulling over ten minutes after we leave the Denny's and if he touches his sister one more time I'm going to turn this car around and we won't go back to Disneyland until next year.
  • scapegoat (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tom (822) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @05:20AM (#23309784) Homepage Journal
    As much as I dislike him, but it's not Balmer who needs to go, it's Microsoft. The problem isn't that Balmer drove the company into a corner, but that it's been driving towards that corner for at least ten, if not twenty, years. Nothing that has happened surprised anyone who's been watching MS for some time, it's all just standard operating procedure. Their problem is that the world has changed, and what worked in 1998 simply doesn't work anymore in 2008.
    • The shoe fits... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by argent (18001)
      Their problem is that the world has changed, and what worked in 1998 simply doesn't work anymore in 2008.

      Actually, Microsoft's changed a lot since 1998, though they were already setting down the road to where they are now... they introduced ActiveX in 1997, for example... they still had NT running on at least four platforms, they were still supporting more than the Win32 subsystem in NT, and while they'd moved GDI into the kernel both NT4 and the initial release of NT5 (Windows 2000) were still decent deskt
  • Anyone who's seen that windows 1.0 sales video will probably get the same vibe. He just feels sleazy.

    That's probably why he went so far.

    He's like the Dick Cheney of Microsoft.
  • by westlake (615356) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @11:36AM (#23312666)
    From David Kirkpatrick, senior editor, Fortune Magazine:

    Oh how frustrating when the mighty haven't fallen.

    Vista is not wowing critics. Nevertheless, 140 million PCs have sold with paid copies installed. Granted, some of those buyers may in fact be clamoring to keep using XP...But Microsoft's problems are merely normal challenges for a still-growing behemoth.

    At the Motley Fool, Rick Aristotle Munarriz titled his recent article "I Spit on Vista's Grave." The best part was his lead paragraph, in which he asked "What do the future of computing, a hurricane-ravaged home, and Fred Flintstone's car have in common?" The answer, of course: no Windows. He suggests that Windows is fundamentally in trouble.

    Give me a break.

    Yes, Wall Street expected the company division that sells Windows to have higher revenue than it did last quarter. Results in the group were distorted by unusually high revenues and profits a year earlier...And sales may have subsequently slowed.

    But those dollars flowed in because the product sold a lot, not a little, albeit much later and with fewer features than originally planned. Plus, the Vista disappointments are relatively minor in the larger scheme of things. The company projects a level of operating income for the current quarter which would mean that by the end of the June 30 fiscal year the total would be a minimum of $22.6 billion. That's not only a lot of moolah by any standard, but would represent a 22.1% increase over the previous fiscal year. Your list of $60 billion companies with profit growth that healthy is likely to be rather short.

    Let's just say for a minute that you could somehow convince yourself that the Windows business, which in the "disappointing" last quarter threw off $4 billion in operating profit, is at risk of drying up entirely. It's salutary to remember that this group only represents about 27% of company revenue. Microsoft has done a phenomenal job diversifying into a wide range of software businesses.

    Says Gates: "Exchange is out there cleaning up, SharePoint is out there cleaning up, doing super, super well." He's referring to the company's messaging software product line as well as SharePoint, an unheralded and little-appreciated dark horse in the company's arsenal.

    SharePoint has evolved far from its roots as a mere corporate collaboration tool. Now it encompasses a full range of functions a company of any size might need for creating and maintaining applications on the Web. That means everything from a big-time corporate Web portal to your workgroup's document-sharing site. SharePoint this year will surpass $1 billion in revenues, getting to that scale faster than any product in Microsoft's history. But don't forget - according to the blogosphere, Ballmer is screwing up.

    Speculation on whether or not Microsoft will succeed in buying Yahoo, and then integrating it, is rampant. It's a gutsy move and by far the company's largest attempted acquisition ever. Such deals are fraught with peril.

    Those who sneer at Ballmer's supposed ineptitude or, as Wired puts it, "mismanagement," are simply engaging in speculation and armchair quarterbacking. They also show a poor understanding of internal dynamics at Microsoft. The real strategist behind the Yahoo assault is Kevin Johnson, who heads the group responsible for Online Services (and who also oversees Windows). Ballmer was sufficiently confident that "KJ," as he's known, could handle this project that two weeks ago he took a trip to the Amazon which put him completely out of touch with the office for days.

    Ballmer, of course, remains the chief corporate strategist and the ultimate decision-maker. But the grown-up company he now heads, soon even to be sans Bill Gates, is one far more decentralized and well-managed than any version that has come before.

    It is simply false to say Microsoft is in real trouble.

    Microsoft: Decidedly not R.I.P. [cnn.com] [May 2, 2008]

  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Tuesday May 06, 2008 @11:59AM (#23312982)
    I don't like Ballmer, but his Yahoo strategy is anything but a failure! Yahoo is in chaos. The shareholders are out hunting for Yang's head over this. They'd probably take a $29/share offer right now which is below Microsoft's original $31 offer. MS stock is up, while Yahoo's is falling like a stone back towards $19. Any Yahoo anti-takeover defense is now likely off the table forever, meaning that this game is hardly over. So to say that Ballmer should go over his "failure" simply indicates that Geeks are truly stupid when it comes to understanding how business works.

    But we knew that already. That's why we don't make good CEO's, and often not even good managers.

All life evolves by the differential survival of replicating entities. -- Dawkins

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