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Will Ballmer Be Replaced As Microsoft CEO? 342

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the well-eventually-sure dept.
Strudelkugel writes "The Beast reports unhappiness with Steve Ballmer as CEO of Microsoft: Sources say the talk around Microsoft's Redmond, Washington, headquarters — which has grown increasingly loud ever since Apple surpassed Microsoft in market capitalization — is that the company's stock suffers from a 'Ballmer discount,' and that the CEO is on the clock to significantly move the needle on its share price over the next two or three quarters or face a potential move to oust him. 'Ballmer is on the list of mega-executives under pressure,' says a banker who has negotiated deals for Microsoft. 'If he was asked to leave the building, I suspect there would be more happy than unhappy people.'"
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Will Ballmer Be Replaced As Microsoft CEO?

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  • by KernelMuncher (989766) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:04AM (#33030200)
    He threw a chair at one of his staff. What's he going to do when they come to fire him ? Throw an entire office set ?
    • Re:the Balminator (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ZeroExistenZ (721849) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:08AM (#33030268)

      What's he going to do when they come to fire him ? Throw an entire office set ?

      He'll cash in his layoff-bonus he surely has somewhere on contract, and start up something of his own.

      Microsoft will flourish again with all the young idealistic minds working hard and get slowly more solid and standard-comliant, but wont get so much back into the front-game.

      Balminator, on the other hand, will be very loud with his "next new best thing" and go after Apple's marketshare. Ultimately, he'll end up as a lonely old but relatively rich man and being moderatly successful in the furtniture durability testing-industry.

      • Re:the Balminator (Score:5, Interesting)

        by MemoryDragon (544441) on Monday July 26, 2010 @01:02PM (#33032534)

        Sorry to say that but Microsoft wont change too much, it is almost in the stage of an engineering driven corporation.

        First stage: Founders and young engineers develop products

        Second stage: Founders and young engineers drive the company to a corporate status and have a good sense of what has to come, corporation becomes successful (Google is there currently) and dominating

        Third stage: MBAs and sales guys take over more and more, engineers are leaving en masses as soon as possible or give up internally to develop something amazing, company is still thriving with new products from the back catalog and the left talented engineering force which becomes smaller and smaller and is replaced by mediocre people

        Fourth stage: Company is entirely MBA driven, engineers are seen as commodity and work is more and more outsourced, product development is miserable and often behind the competition, the company becomes more and more like a bank (Microsoft today), depending on the business and assets built up in the initial stages this state can last for decades.

        Fifth stage: Company either folds or becomes slowly a bank with some other assets which are dropped if they are not profitable enough (Siemens and others which are on their way out of engineering)

  • Not Surprising (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nerdfest (867930) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:04AM (#33030202)
    I find it amazing that he's lasted this long. The man has a bit of a history as a public relations problem.
    • Re:Not Surprising (Score:4, Insightful)

      by beakerMeep (716990) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:17AM (#33030442)
      Seems they have had some decently grand failures too as of late. WP7 looks almost dead out of the gate, Kin was dead out of the gate and they killed Courier before ever seeing the gate. Couple that with continual loss of browser share versus Firefox, and you have some pretty bad failures. While Windows 7 did well I think many havent forgotten how badly Vista sold. Now, being MS I'm sure they had quite a few spectacular failures over the years but it seems they are pretty inept at reading the marketplace as of late. Though they seem to be doing OK with Xbox.

      Still, the thing that bums me is that Courier could have been so great.

      /speculation
      • Re:Not Surprising (Score:5, Informative)

        by UnknowingFool (672806) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:31AM (#33030700)

        Though they seem to be doing OK with Xbox.

        In terms of marketshare, Xbox is a success. In terms of finances, Xbox is a failure. It has been profitable for a few quarters but has yet to pay back the $7-8 billion spent over the lifetime of the product. Most companies would have declared bankruptcy or killed a money-losing product. But as CEO, this is a decision he has not made.

        • Re:Not Surprising (Score:5, Insightful)

          by MBGMorden (803437) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:54AM (#33031122)

          You have to remember though that the original Xbox was essentially not expected to turn a profit. Their goal was to use it as entry into the home console market. If you consider that as an end goal (rather than profits), then it was successful. It got Microsoft into a VERY difficult market. Look at all the companies that failed in that area, some with MUCH more experience in that domain: Sega, Atari, NeoGeo, NEC (TurboGrafx).

          Microsoft broke into the market and has turned their unit profitable. As laughable as most people considered their first product, in North America Xbox360 is the de-facto standard console for traditional gamers (Wii is more profitable overall, but it targets a different market).

          There's essentially no question that Xbox has been trending upwards the whole time. If they continue, then they'll make their money back overall.

          Essentially, Xbox was loosing money at first, but is now profitable and trending up. Compare to Microsoft's other businesses: still profitable, but trending downwards, and it's easy to see which will work out better in the long run.

          • I don't really remember thinking that the original Xbox was laughable. The console of that generation that I thought was laughable was the GameCube; it gave me really low hopes for the Wii, until I played one. Perhaps the Kin disaster isn't foreshadowing what's to come; maybe it's just a misstep on the path to success. For the sake of MS, I hope so, because they will eventually be boxed into a small corner if they can't gain traction in the mobile market.
          • Re:Not Surprising (Score:4, Informative)

            by tomhudson (43916) <.moc.nosduh-arab ... .nosduh.arabrab.> on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:16PM (#33031530) Journal
            No, the original xbox was supposed to be the gateway to Microsoft being the centerpiece and rent-seeker of your home media center. Didn't work out that way. Too bad, so sad.

            But this, like almost every failure in the last years, isn't Ballmer's fault - almost every one of these sucky projects was started under Gates.

          • Re:Not Surprising (Score:4, Insightful)

            by UnknowingFool (672806) on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:31PM (#33031892)

            Essentially, Xbox was loosing money at first, but is now profitable and trending up. Compare to Microsoft's other businesses: still profitable, but trending downwards, and it's easy to see which will work out better in the long run.

            While it is profitable now, even if you take out the original Xbox, the product line is still in the red overall even more so with the Red Ring of Death problems. At the current rate, it will take decades to pay back the original investment. As an investor, how much would you tolerate the company spending money only to get market share. Contrast that with the Wii which was also money losing at first but has since paid back the original investment.

      • Re:Not Surprising (Score:5, Interesting)

        by interval1066 (668936) on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:02PM (#33031284) Homepage Journal

        This guy Ballmer hasn't shown me that he has any "vision", something that simply oozes out of Jobs. Ballmer and his team appear to constantly be playing "catch-up"; Apple trots out an mp3 player that becomes the rage of the info age, Ballmer says "ooh, I want that!" and they scrape together a brown thing that no one buys. Jobs presents the iPhone to a cheering crowd, now people ask me where my iPhone is (I don't have or want one), Ballmer is still trying to get his mobile acto together. They can't produce a successful, hip marketing campaign if Ballmer's mother's life depended on it, and haven't since those losing commercials Gates did with Sienfeld. Before even. Remember the Vista install "party" commercials? Holy crap. Maybe Microsoft simply needs to shake things up? They kind of did that over the spring, but two executives isn't really a shake-up.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Keep up, the old Zune is long gone. The brown thing no one buys has become a black glossy sleek beautiful responsive elegant thing that no one buys.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by RoFLKOPTr (1294290)

            Keep up, the old Zune is long gone. The brown thing no one buys has become a black glossy sleek beautiful responsive elegant thing that no one buys.

            I bought one. I love it.

            I was also using the Zune Pass long before I actually bought the Zune, and it left me wondering why people don't demand that kind of model from iTunes. You pay $15/mo and get unlimited (DRM-laden, but that's to be expected) downloads on nearly everything in their library. Some albums don't want to be downloaded for free, so they give you 10 song credits every month with which you can buy any song and receive it in DRM-free MP3. It really is a great deal. The software has absolutely n

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by peragrin (659227)

              Your an idiot. Spending $180 a year for nothing. The day zune pass closes or you stop paying all your music is gone. You can never listen to it again. You signed up for unlimited nothing. Stop paying them and listen as your music stops.

              At least with iTunes and amazon. If you cantafford to buy more music youcan listen to what you have already bought instead of losing it all.

              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by RoFLKOPTr (1294290)

                Your an idiot. Spending $180 a year for nothing. The day zune pass closes or you stop paying all your music is gone. You can never listen to it again. You signed up for unlimited nothing. Stop paying them and listen as your music stops.

                At least with iTunes and amazon. If you cantafford to buy more music youcan listen to what you have already bought instead of losing it all.

                You're an idiot for responding in a fit of rage without actually reading (or at least comprehending) what I wrote. I get 10 DRM-free MP3s every month included in the $15/mo subscription and can download and listen to as many DRM-laden songs as I want. I can also log in online on any computer and listen to music there (though it could be a little better-integrated with the client... I'd like to have my playlists online for instance).

                If Zune Pass ever shuts down, I still keep every song I bought with money or

    • by LibertineR (591918) on Monday July 26, 2010 @03:40PM (#33035412)
      Microsoft is not the same company it was 18 years ago, when I started there.

      Back then, if your code was shit, you heard about it. Not just from your lead, but from everyone up the chain. You got one, maybe two fuckups before you went on plan. If you were one to glance at the clock and be out the door at 5pm, you were not long for the company.

      Back then, if you performed, you had a chance of becoming wealthy. Today? Well, good luck bitches.

      When the options were flying, you didn't mind getting your ass chewed on a semi-regular basis, and you didn't mind living in your office for weeks on end, if it meant your project shipped on time. The stuff I heard back then, directed at me, at women, at minorities, or whoever the fuck you were, would welcome lawsuits today. Back then, nobody cared, we were shipping, and buying homes for cash.

      What's the stock done for a decade? Nothing. A decent wage, and even great benefits are not enough to get smart people to work like slaves; ruin marriages, with some threatening suicide in the parking lots. For that, you need the promise of wealth.

      And that time is OVER in Redmond. Some will still do well, but there is never going to be that sense that one day, you and the guy across the hall are going to be drag-racing your new Porsche's on the 520, if we can just get this fucking product out the door.

      My first day in Redmond as an employee, I parked my Camry next to Bob McDowell's yellow Ferrari, and said to myself, "that's me one day, if I work my ass off, fuck having a life for now".

      That day is long gone, and it aint coming back to Redmond.

      Ballmer was the perfect guy to motivate back then, even though he was more focused on sales at the time. Today, he cant even say what he wants to say in public. He has to call Steve Jobs a visionary, rather than the spear up his ass, he really feels he is.

      If anyone back then had told Ballmer that one day Apple would be worth more than Microsoft, he would have probably strongly suggested that you go work there, and get the fuck off the campus.

      Ballmer is the right guy, its just the wrong day. Different people, different motivations, different skills, and thinner skins.

  • "Ballmer is on the list of mega-executives under pressure," says a banker who has negotiated deals for Microsoft. "If he was asked to leave the building, I suspect there would be more happy than unhappy people."

    If he read /., he could state that as fact. :p

    • by nschubach (922175) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:26AM (#33030604) Journal

      I'm not sure... Ballmer has done more for the "Microsoft driven by a crazy monkey" image than anyone. If they replace him with someone with a higher approval it may make a lot of unhappy people who would rather keep the lead weight at the top and bring Microsoft back down to the competitive arena.

      Personally, I think the best thing all around would be to have Microsoft's market share crumble to less then 50% and promote more competition. With a competent CEO that may be a longer curve than leaving Ballmer in charge of the direction of the company.

      • by MemoryDragon (544441) on Monday July 26, 2010 @01:09PM (#33032628)

        The problem is not Ballmer, the problem is generally the way they do business. Microsoft never was about invention it was about copying or buying the competition. This worked until the late 90s when most people were not exposed to the better competition. The game has changed now, and Microsofts problem still is the lack of innovation they still copy apple like they did the last 30 years but people know the original nowadays.
        Add to that that Bill Gates despite his constant mispredictions had a good feeling where technology was heading or at least recognizing it before it was too late while Ballmer as the sales guy never had it, but also the upper and mid management does not seem to be in touch with that sense (probably an MBA thunking layer they built on top of engineering)

        Microsoft simply has become what Bill Gates despised in the early 80s, the next IBM. Boring but there, earning lots of money, but not really that interesting anymore.

  • Go read... Augustine (Score:5, Informative)

    by Ancient_Hacker (751168) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:06AM (#33030242)

    Not St. Augustine, Norman Augustine, ex-prez of many a big corporation. His book has dozens of interesting graphs, the most appropriiate one is a X-Y scatter graph of company president pay versus company stock. No visible correlation at all. When you get up to a certain level, you're mainly a figurehead.

  • by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:08AM (#33030278) Homepage Journal

    I'm hardly a Ballmer fan, but what could he have done substantially differently? In my opinion, he inherited a pig with no obvious roadmap to future gains. He managed over the Kin debacle, sure, but he also managed the Xbox and that worked out pretty well.

    I've read a thousand perfectly valid criticisms of Microsoft over the years, but I'm not sure that many of them can be traced back to Ballmer. For example, what changes could he have made to the Windows or Office lines to gain new growth instead of settling for trying to get current users to upgrade?

    If anything, I think investors are expecting too much of Microsoft. Yes, it's somewhat stagnant. Of course it is! It already has something like 90% of the slow-growing PC market and roughly 100% of the "non-gratis office suite that runs on Windows" market. There's just not any growth left in MS's core competencies, and at least they're trying new stuff, even if the results are pretty embarrassing most of the time.

    • by Zelgadiss (213127) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:14AM (#33030380)

      The problem with the guy is he has practically no vision.

      Most of what MS has been doing, ever since he took over, is playing catch up with Google and Apple.

      For their investors, it's not enough that they try new stuff, the new stuff has to "work".

    • by FreonTrip (694097) <freontrip.gmail@com> on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:15AM (#33030398)
      A quick visit to Mini-Microsoft [blogspot.com] yields a lot of insight, especially in the comments thread. The management system's apparently poisonous and horrifically bloated, leading to lots of in-fighting and internecine political battles between rival divisions within the same company. Most employees also languish under a tiered review system that is overtly strict in its implementation and prone to misuse by the aforementioned management. I'm inclined to believe that a lot of promising developments are being sacrificed at the altar of upward career mobility for a largely administrative segment of the company, and that everyone else basically suffers and watches the rest of the world pull ahead.
      • by TheRealFixer (552803) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:37AM (#33030804)
        Really, though, the same could be said of any company that size and age. Very large companies nearly always, over time, develop into unwieldy mega-bureaucracies, comprised of individual fiefdoms solely concerned about their own headcount and perceived influence. They become microcosms of nations. They have well-defined class structures, their own culture, sometimes even their own currency internally.

        Replacing Ballmer isn't going to change any of that. A new CEO might excite the board and top investors a little, perhaps shuffle some HR/management policies around a little. But in the end, the same issues that are inherent in being a company of that size are still going to be there.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          A new CEO might excite the board and top investors a little, perhaps shuffle some HR/management policies around a little. But in the end, the same issues that are inherent in being a company of that size are still going to be there.

          You're right, of course, but remember that CEO hiring and firing decisions at huge companies are made by people who believe, or claim to believe, that top-level executives actually do meaningful work.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ConceptJunkie (24823)

        I think a simple proof of your thesis can be found at Microsoft Research, where a bunch of really sharp boffins are doing all kinds of really cool and ground-breaking stuff that never seem to make it into shipping products.

        Microsoft is so non-innovative they are literally stagnating the state-of-the-art. As a personal anecdote, I had the dubious honor of taking over a non-trivial Excel application recently. Prior to this, I'd never done any app development using VBA, although I'd done some OLE Automation

    • You're right, it's not just Ballmer, the whole company is a behemoth, and overall can't move the needle fast enough.
      But if they were to split the search, xbox, and phone and concentrate on just OS and Office, they'd have a chance for some rapid movement.
      But what do I know.
      I do know that Ballmer should stop taking marketing and PR advice from Spongebob, and run his ass around a block a few times.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Thinboy00 (1190815)

        There's a problem there:
        OS: What's to concentrate on? They've got like 90%+ of the market.
        Office:It's way to late [wikipedia.org], given that OOo doesn't require re-training and Office 2007 (or whichever) does.

        • s/way to/way too/

        • by Mongoose Disciple (722373) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:33AM (#33030750)

          Office:It's way to late, given that OOo doesn't require re-training and Office 2007 (or whichever) does.

          No wonder nobody bought Office 2007/2010... wait, that's not what happened at all.

          Microsoft's produced enough legitimate gaffes and failures to laugh at in the last ten years -- you don't need to try to will a new one into being through extreme wishful thinking.

        • Do you really think OpenOffice from Oracle has a brighter future than Office from Microsoft?

          How much training do you think people actually get for running office apps? Perhaps 10 years ago people would get training, but not so much anymore.

          Have you ever received formal training for running Office or any other productivity app?

          • by TheLink (130905) on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:14PM (#33031488) Journal

            OpenOffice sucks, it's ok for the price I guess, but it sucks. The mods may mod me flamebait but it has bugs that would not have passed proper QA.

            Example: http://www.openoffice.org/issues/show_bug.cgi?id=56449 [openoffice.org]

            There are others I've had that I can't really remember in detail - I think I had some problems with Impress - when I ended certain bullet text entries with certain characters, weird stuff would happen - mades me wonder how screwed up the underlying code is.

            Other options: http://wapedia.mobi/en/Office_suite?p=1 [wapedia.mobi]

            I've tried the eval version of Kingsoft Office and it does look quite like MS Office. I think they just need to make an Outlook compatible that works with Exchange and they would either be a great success or sued to oblivion by Microsoft ;).

          • My university mandated that sort of thing if you couldn't pass an exam showing that you could use Word, PowerPoint, and Excel to some degree of competence. I didn't need it, but a handful of people I knew did to get past the Excel portion of the test.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by westlake (615356)
          Office:It's way to late, given that OOo doesn't require re-training and Office 2007 (or whichever) does.

          Microsoft sells MS Office as part of an integrated office system that scales to a business of any size.

          Microsoft's dominance in this sector can not be wished away. Microsoft's share of the enterprise market alone is, as the NY Times blog I quoted earlier reminds us, is as big as Oracle's itself.

          MS Office for the PC and the Mac top the software sales charts for the PC and the Mac at Amazon.com - and t

        • by guruevi (827432) <(eb.ebucgnikoms) (ta) (ive)> on Monday July 26, 2010 @01:43PM (#33033280) Homepage

          They're losing market share quickly though. On campusses across the world students are chosing Apple machines with Mac OS X over comparable or even cheaper Windows models. Any geek worth it's salt is either dual-booting or exclusively Linux. They lost the tablets, they lost the next generation of netbooks and unless Windows 7 on Phones is a lot better than either version 5, 6 or Kin they are going to lose the phone market as well. It's not necessarily market share but the way the market is going. Sure, they're entrenched in companies worldwide which gives them the market share but they're slowly, and in some niches quickly, losing the market mind (we wish we could convert to something else except for this...) as well as the market share.

    • by Exitar (809068)

      "There's just not any growth left in MS's core competencies, and at least they're trying new stuff, even if the results are pretty embarrassing most of the time."

      For a company of such size, they failed way too much in the new stuff they tried (Zune, Playforsure, Live Search, Vista, Kin...).
      One could simply think that they're quite unable to come with something both new (or copied) and successful.

    • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:26AM (#33030602)

      I'm hardly a Ballmer fan, but what could he have done substantially differently?

      The three most obvious, from a commercial point of view, are probably (a) avoiding the whole Vista fiasco, (b) handling the release of the new Office UI better, and (c) not running so many loss-making divisions in the name of diversification.

      Microsoft are in the business of making operating systems and office software, two products that almost everyone with a computer uses at some point. There is plenty that could be done to help people using these products to work more efficiently or enjoyably. That could legitimately drive both paid upgrades and, potentially, sales of back-end software and on-line services that support collaboration using those client-side tools.

      But Microsoft aren't doing those things. They've had a catastrophic release for each of their main products, and in doing so, they have managed to kill the automatic upgrade cycle that has been their cash cow for a decade or more, with corporate IT types now seriously questioning why they should pay the Microsoft Tax and possibly upgrade their hardware as well every time a new release of Windows or Office comes along.

      Not innovating merely requires laziness, but not innovating and killing a tried and tested business model that all but runs itself and has been successful for years? That requires serious talent at executive level, and the buck stops with the CEO.

      • by Skuld-Chan (302449) on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:00PM (#33031254)

        Also - not that I was a big fan of the Kin, they really shouldn't have let it die in a fire like they did 48 days after launch for largely petty political reasons. When you ship a product - you stand by that product and make it the best possible no matter what.

        The reason why is because doing anything else makes customers lose trust in your brand. Example - plenty of people probably can't imagine getting a Windows 7 phone at this point for fear they'll drop it as well or it won't be supported after 2 months.

        Yeah one could argue they shouldn't have released it, but they did green light it and should have dealt with it better.

        • by zach_the_lizard (1317619) on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:23PM (#33031670)

          Also - not that I was a big fan of the Kin, they really shouldn't have let it die in a fire like they did 48 days after launch for largely petty political reasons. When you ship a product - you stand by that product and make it the best possible no matter what.

          I agree, they shouldn't have cancelled the Kin in the way they did, but then again, they shouldn't have had the political infighting that led to its demise in the first place. It's not a good sign when a fairly major product is a failure because of intense internal rivalry. They are supposed to be on the same team!

      • by Locutus (9039) on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:46PM (#33032202)
        Ballmer must have read "The Innovators Dilemma" and has, as Bill Gates has before him, threatened and eliminated every threat to their income channel( Windows desktop and server ). They have always spent over a billion dollars per year on projects and marketing specifically targeting new products others have created and they've been successful protecting Windows. They have really never put much effort at all into making products better for customers for the customers sake, it has always been about limiting choice and preventing movement to other products.

        They did Pen for Windows to block Go Inc from doing tablet computers in the late '80s and early '90s. They did Internet Explorer and Windows 95 to block IBM Web Explorer and OS/2 initially and then Netscape. Windows NT went from a failed desktop OS to a "Workstation OS" to a server OS to block OS/2 Server. Windows CE to block PalmOS, Xbox to block PS2/PS3, MS .Net to block Java, Silverlight to block Flash. All these things they blocked or limited their growth were already out there, ran on Windows and because they were not tied only to Windows presented a chance of a loss of control and therefore a loss of the Windows monopoly and income stream.

        Microsoft has hardly ever had to innovate, they just leveraged the control they had and made something good enough to sell so people thought they were getting something new and improved.

        IMO, the iPhone, iPod, and iPad all represent a threat to Microsoft not because they can take away Windows desktop sales but because they show Windows users that a different way to do something can be easy, can work better, and can be fun and enjoyable. Android and ChromeOS are what is keeping Ballmer up at night because they are being targeted across many hardware manufacturers devices and that kind of flood would quickly spread into Windows customers minds of a none Microsoft choice for doing lots of stuff outside of Windows. But, also with very little effort those same systems can do almost all of what Windows does.

        Danger, Danger, Will Robinson! Steve Ballmer will be pissing off many because he _must_ spend spend spend to block Android, ChromeOS, and limit Apple iOS growth. So if they give him 3 quarters then he's out in 3 quarters and by then, if he fails to block Android and ChromeOS, Microsoft will be over the edge and headed down a steep slope of losses anyways so he'd welcome to chance to cash out. IMO

        LoB
      • by thesandtiger (819476) on Monday July 26, 2010 @01:09PM (#33032642)

        I'll add a biggie:

        Recognizing that the marketplace is changing and that while Windows is dominant NOW, things are rapidly moving towards an OS agnostic world that uses open standards.

        The people who, 20 years ago, were terrified of trying anything new are generally filtering out of the workplace and have been (and continue to be) replaced with people who grew up with computers as everyday things and aren't afraid to try something different. I can only imagine that as younger people who grew up with computers being completely ubiquitous, and with the stuff they use built on open standards, this will only accelerate.

        Fear of change and a fundamental lack of understanding of tech were their bread and butter, but that is going to end, and soon, and they've done nothing to position themselves for the sea change that will be coming. They've been so intent on holding on their old (and, it must be said, profitable) way of doing business that when things do change they'll have to move faster than they ever have to adapt.

        The marketplace has changed, too. It used to be that companies would try to compete with MSFT and get wiped out (bought or just crushed); now there are companies that exist solely to help their customers migrate away from MSFT products, or that develop tech that allow people to host their legacy apps on non-MSFT platforms.

        Ballmer has been a caretaker CEO at best. MSFT is in a worse position, now, than they were when he took over, relative to the rest of the market. They've got massive resources and a really huge influence, but they're going to need to reinvent themselves in the same kind of way IBM did if they want to continue to be relevant.

      • by Blakey Rat (99501) on Monday July 26, 2010 @01:11PM (#33032682)

        The three most obvious, from a commercial point of view, are probably (a) avoiding the whole Vista fiasco,

        How? That's a lot easier said than done... I'm pretty sure there isn't even a clear consensus on what exactly caused the Vista fiasco in the first place. Everybody has their own opinion.

        I mean, the last time they had an OS release that poor (Windows ME), at least the schedule was rushed to hell and back. Vista, on the other hand, was both slow *and* bad.

        That all said, I think it was mostly a perception/marketing problem:

        1) Vista wasn't bad on hardware built to support it... but Microsoft gave the logo to vastly inferior hardware that they had to have known wasn't capable of running it well. Vista should have been sold initially as a "high-end" OS, since only high-end hardware could *really* knock it out of the park. They could have set a high bar for the logo, and rebrand XP as their low-end, mobile OS. (Until Windows 7 could take over both roles.)

        2) A *major* failing was getting hardware makers on-board with their drivers. I have no idea what they could have done more to solve this, but I think something like Windows 7's long free preview period would have been a good idea for Vista. (Part of the issue here was also the long gap between OSes-- hardware makers hadn't had to make or update drivers for a long, long time before Vista came out.)

        3) Microsoft was never in control of the Vista brand, pundits were. The average computer consumer probably saw a dozen articles talking about how awful Vista was before they'd ever actually used it, or before they heard anything from Microsoft about it. (Their Mojave campaign pretty much proved this one)

        Anyway, by the time Windows 7 came out, the hardware issue was resolved (both by making the OS leaner, and by the normal increase in computer performance over 2 years), the hardware issue was resolved (Vista drivers finally worked well, and Windows 7 could use those), and the marketing was much, much better. Result? Successful launch.

        (b) handling the release of the new Office UI better, and

        I don't agree with this; I think they handled it quite well. What changes would you have proposed?

        One major gap, though, was the slooow availability of the Mac file conversion utilities. Microsoft has been doing pretty well with Office on Mac, but that one issue really reminded everybody that the Mac is a second-class citizen, which is a shame after all the work they've put in to applications like Entourage.

        (c) not running so many loss-making divisions in the name of diversification.

        I agree. I'd like to see them drop the pointless web search and advertising focus. Yes, this means giving Google a practical monopoly. But:

        1) Microsoft has spent BILLIONS on this, and is barely any better-off than they were before, and

        2) Microsoft is simply no good at it. But that's ok, you can be no good at things! Just accept it and move on.

        They've had a catastrophic release for each of their main products, and in doing so,

        The Office 2007 release was not catastrophic by any measure, except for maybe Slashdot chatter.

        Not innovating merely requires laziness, but not innovating

        Except Office 2007 is exactly the kind of innovating that people have been asking for, and you just panned it.

        Man, I was enjoying your post until the last couple paragraphs. :)

    • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:27AM (#33030638) Homepage

      he also managed the Xbox and that worked out pretty well.

      Except for losing out to the Wii, having a... what is it? 55% failure rate?

      I'm not sure that many of them can be traced back to Ballmer.

      When your in charge, lots of things trace indirectly back to you. Who did you hire, and who did you fire? Who didn't you hire, and who didn't you fire? What guidance did you give to your management team, and what guidance didn't you give? It's not just "What could he have done to make Windows/Office markets grow?" but "What other business opportunities did he fail to capitalize on while sitting on Windows/Office?" It's a whole wide world out there, with loads of opportunities.

      I'm not saying that Ballmer is bad at his job. I honestly don't know enough to say, really, except from my perception of how Microsoft is doing. However, if you think Microsoft isn't doing as well as it should, then I think you have a hard time not blaming Balmer a little. He's in charge. If it's someone else's fault, he should have fired that person and replaced them.

    • by whoever57 (658626)

      sure, but he also managed the Xbox and that worked out pretty well.

      Did it? The entertainment division lost money last quarter. Has the Xbox actually made a net profit over its lifetime? By that, have the total profits on the Xbox paid for the total losses incurred over the years taking into account the cost of money?

      The intent was to get the Xbox into the living room as an entertainment center. How's that working out?

      • The intent was to get the Xbox into the living room as an entertainment center. How's that working out?

        I'd say for the time in which Netflix was streaming on XBox and not yet on PS3/Wii, that was a pretty big coup in that department -- although I can't point to another one, and now the competitors have caught up.

        Even when Microsoft actually does something new right, they can't seem to build any momentum off it. Whether that's in part Ballmer's fault or not I'm not sure.

      • by Pojut (1027544)

        Sidestepping out of reality and into my own little world for a moment, this is one of the things that really bothers me about business.

        The 360 HAS been succesful. Look at the various services it offers...Netflix streaming, gaming, zune streaming....and look at some of the exclusives on it. Shadow Complex, Limbo, 'Splosion Man, I Made a Game with Zombies in it, Geometry Wars Evolved, Fable II, Mass Effect 1 and 2 (counts due to being a Microsoft exclusive)...tons of games that have been cemented permanentl

        • That is because as far as we are concerned it was a success. They had a golden goose, only they managed to accidentally blow its head off when they got it home with RRODs and other problems.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Blakey Rat (99501)

        Did it? The entertainment division lost money last quarter. Has the Xbox actually made a net profit over its lifetime? By that, have the total profits on the Xbox paid for the total losses incurred over the years taking into account the cost of money?

        Man, does *anybody* at Slashdot work at a corporation?

        "Total profits" is not the only measure of success, not even one of the most important. (Well, it is for the company as a whole, but not for any one division.) Every corporation of a decent size has division

    • To say that Microsoft is trying new stuff is like getting your kids to eat Vegetables. Every one of their new products has been based off of something in their competitions line up - and the embarassing part is that the product ends up being WORSE than the competitor's somehow.

      It's because Microsoft has been trying to mimick other companies. Apple has enough fanboys that it can produce a faulty product and still make money (See iPhone4), Microsoft however, doesn't have that kind of following behind it. Nobo

    • by rev_sanchez (691443) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:40AM (#33030858)
      They're being compared against Apple and that comparison is not going well for Microsoft. That isn't 100% fair as Microsoft's history of being primarily a software producer doesn't match up well with Apple's history of producing quite a lot of hardware but they're the 2 platform giants of personal computing and Microsoft has been throwing it's hat in the hardware arena lately.

      Right now they seem intent on making poor copies of Apple's previous generation of products (Zune/iPod, Zune HD/iPod Touch, Zune Market Place/iTunes, Vista/OS X) and there's every sign that their Windows 7 phone software will follow the same pattern against the iPhone.

      What they do have is business buy-in as the OS that runs all of their niche business apps on cheapish hardware but if cloud computing takes off and web apps become the norm for business then the winner will be Google because they're already pretty good at it and Microsoft is again playing catch-up.

      Microsoft doesn't need more developers, it needs designers focused on the user experience and the next generation of personal computing. That's tough to do when your best customers are business who don't want the cost of teaching their users a new UI but if Microsoft doesn't do something they are in for the same slow, steady decline.
      • by mhollis (727905) on Monday July 26, 2010 @02:15PM (#33033922) Journal

        OK, i'll bite (or is it byte -- naah, that's just a really good magazine I used to read that was killed).

        I was working with Microsoft back in 1995 doing PR for them. Happened to go to a meeting that, maybe I should not have attended. Bunch of microserfs in attendance looking at a new product. Gates enters the room and everyone gets really excited and really quiet.

        Gates asks about part of the user interface. Microserf answers. Gates proceeds to rip into him like the wrath of ghod (which he may have been to the microserfs). Calls him a total idiot, tells him his UI won't work because nobody will get it. Then turns to the rest of the room -- which cowers as one (actually, I almost flinched and I had nothing to do with the project). Then Gates brings up another aspect of the application and one guy stands up with a quavering voice and takes responsibility (blame). Gates tells him that most of what he has seen makes pretty good sense, then rips into him about part of the thing he took credit for.

        I figured half the room was going to be let go and escorted off the Microsoft campus by armed guards at gunpoint (and no, you cannot empty your desks!). Gates then tells everyone that they have to be afraid, that the other software companies were going to catch up, that Microsoft was going to die horribly if they didn't get it together and think. Gates then whines about sloppy coding habits, tells them to get back to work and he'd better see a better application and soon.

        Folks, Steve Ballmer is a manager-type. If he ever wrote a single line of code, it was in MSBasic as a new hire so that he could show Gates that it can be used to calculate sums and count beans. He doesn't understand, and has never understood, the people who design software. He cannot pick apart their work. And he cannot, as Gates used to, exhort them to produce better because he can do better.

        I've not worked for Apple or done any projects within that company. But it's my understanding that Jobs is the same as Gates was. He has worked on design, which is a primary focus of Apple. He can rip into people who don't innovate. Jobs is not a bean counter, he's a visionary. Love him or hate him, Jobs requires something more of his people than a bean counter would and I would argue that Jobs can require that because of what he knows, which goes way beyond handling a company's balance sheet.

        Where Gates lost his way was when the Internet became a phenomenon. "It's a gold-rush mentality," he said, "And the only people who are going to make money off the Internet are people who make tools for things on the Internet."

        By that, I suppose he meant FrontPage and IIS servers. FP has been completely eclipsed by Dreamweaver and there are even free tools that create better websites. I do have one website on an IIS server. I uploaded an .M4V video file and it didn't work on the server. Administrator had to enable those types of files (I'll take normal Linux/Apache any day). And don't get me started on what I have to do to support Microsoft's non-W3C-compliant Internet Exploiter browser! I think they failed in that mission and that was back under Gates.

        My argument is that Microsoft's decline is more due to lack of technical leadership than anything else. Ballmer was important to the company as its first manager but a tech company needs a tech guru sitting in the CEO seat, not someone who could run a division of Proctor and Gamble.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jellomizer (103300)

      I think the fact that Ballmer bad PR is a big thing.

      Early Microsoft it got Bill Gates who was considered the Wiz Kid who made it. The public liked it, and was willing to excuse any of Gates misspeaks as he was so young.

      Then he got older and the general public (Sans the SlashDot and people who had interests in competitors) still like and respected Microsoft as it offered affordable software (Remember when Windows cost only $100).

      Gates Jump ship when Microsoft was starting to suffer Gates wasn't the darling

    • I'm hardly a Ballmer fan, but what could he have done substantially differently? In my opinion, he inherited a pig with no obvious roadmap to future gains.

      Well, you could say the same of Apple when Steve Jobs came back. Actually Apple was in a more tenuous position when he took over. While many slashdotters might not like Apple products, Jobs (and I mean he led the effort as CEO) took the company from the brink of bankruptcy to surpass MS in market cap. He revitalized their core computer business and expanded into new product lines. All the while, Apple is also hugely profitable while expanding into new markets.

      He managed over the Kin debacle, sure, but he also managed the Xbox and that worked out pretty well.

      As a geek, I like the Xbox. As an investor, I

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by michael_cain (66650)

        Well, you could say the same of Apple when Steve Jobs came back. Actually Apple was in a more tenuous position when he took over. While many slashdotters might not like Apple products, Jobs (and I mean he led the effort as CEO) took the company from the brink of bankruptcy to surpass MS in market cap. He revitalized their core computer business and expanded into new product lines. All the while, Apple is also hugely profitable while expanding into new markets.

        Jobs v. Balmer is a very interesting compariso

    • by LWATCDR (28044) on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:00PM (#33031246) Homepage Journal

      Well lets take a look.
      XBOX 360. Huge hardware problems. Huge charge to fix the problems. Slow in replacing the hardware.
      Zune. What??? The original version had wifi but it was crippled by the RIAA. Microsoft played buddy buddy with the RIAA trying to get them to side with Microsoft vs Apple media player market.
      The result was a media player that could have had some brilliant features being a bland second or third place device.
      The ZuneHD is a really good media player. Maybe the best high end media player on the market... Who wants a high end media player today? Most people want a smart phone or an iPod touch which is really more of a PDA/Gaming device than a pure media player.

      Window Mobile, Windows Phone, and the Kin.
      The Kin is really a tragedy. It had some interesting hardware. It had some nice and really innovative features. It was killed.
      It was killed by the company and by stupidity. Really folks what where you thinking. Twitter didn't work. No real app store. Smartphone data prices.
      You can not blame Verizon. They are very invested in the Droid name and why not push kids to a Smart phone if you can. The Kin would eat up a ton of bandwidth streaming and uploading video so why put on the network for cheap.
      Windows Mobile? How long did Microsoft have to get out a good version of it after the iPhone came out? Windows Mobile was just really left to sit and rot much like Palm OS. It predates the iPhone but never really inspired much love. It was frankly more of a hackers OS than Android was. People where cooking up custom roms, skins, and apps all over the place for it.
      But it just never really worked all that well.
      And now Windows Phone 7.... Yea Android, iPhone, and frankly even WebOS will have more apps available for them than WP7 will at launch.
      All the old WinMo users will be kind of left out in the cold. WP7 doesn't run their old apps but worry not because WM is staying around for also!!!!

      Even Bing is a bit of flop. Does anyone use it?
      What about Microsoft Money? Is there an online version?

      Don't forget the disaster that was Vista. Which frankly really helped Apple a lot.

      Right now Microsoft is paying the price for having a terrible mobile strategy.
      Things are going to get worse. Moblin is now going to really start to challenge CE in the automotive informatics space.
      WP7 if it is anything less than an iPhone style smash will be seen as a total failure.
      Office sales are lack luster because Office has reached good enough long ago ,OpenOffice.org is free, and Google Docs has a lot of buzz going for it.
      Even outlook and exchange are going to feel the pinch from web mail soon if they have no already.

      We do seem to be coming to the point where for a lot of people the browser is the OS. Even their you have FireFox and Chrome really taking a bite out of IE and practically nobody is going to make "Best viewed in IE" sites anymore.

      Microsoft maybe in the same position as Wright Aircraft Engines was in the late 1940s early 1950s. The president was sure that they wold be making the R3350 motors forever. Or maybe DEC in the late 70s?
      Things are changing and they are not.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kimvette (919543)

      WP7 took what was good about the Windows Mobile platform and completely destroyed it.

      Windows Mobile/WinCE is actually a fairly decent OS. I have and on occasion still use an HP iPaq ( hx2700 series). What I like about it is I have full access to everything, if I want to I can code a utility and install it without having to buy a certificate or otherwise get Microsoft's blessing to install it. I can install software from anywhere without having to go through a particular store. I've installed a bunch of fre

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Locutus (9039)
      the XBox has done pretty well? Are you looking at the profit/loss column or just the units shipped number because they still lose hundreds of millioins each quarter in that division and have had to write off billions just for RRoF so that excludes development costs and all the billions lost so far. In Microsoft's entire history, they've not made profits off anything which wasn't directly tied to desktop Windows and their only "growth" was with MS Office and then Windows Server. MS Office, like desktop Wind
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Swampash (1131503)

      I've read a thousand perfectly valid criticisms of Microsoft over the years, but I'm not sure that many of them can be traced back to Ballmer. For example, what changes could he have made to the Windows or Office lines to gain new growth instead of settling for trying to get current users to upgrade?

      Your query illustrates the problem perfectly. The question should not be "what changes could he have made to the Windows or Office lines?" - it should be "what new product lines could he have created besides Win

  • An idea (Score:5, Funny)

    by Antony T Curtis (89990) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:08AM (#33030282) Homepage Journal

    They could always ask Steve Jobs if he would be CEO of Microsoft. It worked out great for Apple...

  • Sure, they still own the desktop, and the Office markets by default and by leveraging their monopoly (I'm sure legally now), but everything else they've touched has been at best break-even, and at worst a colossal money sink.

    Zune and Kin were a laughing stock, they're having to give away Windows ME (or whatever they're calling it these days) phones, they're paying people to use Bing, IE is losing market share, XBox has finally broken even just in time to start sinking more money into developing the next v

    • Zune is ancient; Ballmer inherited it, right?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by allometry (840925)

      I get it. Trolling Microsoft is instant karma bucks on /. But seriously, you're talking out of your ass if you believe "C# / .NET" is just about tying developers into Windows. It's about getting shit done for your client!

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Viol8 (599362)

        You can "get shit done" in C++ too you know. Plus you don't have to worry about which version of .SHIT your client needs to install before it'll work.

        • You can "get shit done" in C++ too you know.

          Sure can, and sometimes you should. But that doesn't mean it's the best tool for every task.

          Plus you don't have to worry about which version of .SHIT your client needs to install before it'll work.

          I assume you're trolling, but that's a much more trivial problem to address as a developer than, say, memory leaks in C++. (Which is itself a fixable problem -- but still a less trivial one.)

    • Hotmail is a has been

      I am a hotmail user, you insensitive clod!

    • by timholman (71886)

      I really can't think of any new revenue sources that have come along in the Ballmer era. If all he's doing is treading water, then they might as well pay peanuts to a chimp - it'll shriek and gibber and fling chairs just as well as Uncle Fester.

      And as a bonus, the chimp would fling its feces at competitors and members of the press, at no extra charge!

    • by bravecanadian (638315) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:51AM (#33031068)

      Zune and Kin were a laughing stock, they're having to give away Windows ME (or whatever they're calling it these days) phones, they're paying people to use Bing, IE is losing market share, XBox has finally broken even just in time to start sinking more money into developing the next version. Hotmail is a has been, Silverlight is a wannabe, and C# / .NET is just about tying developers into Windows, not about attracting anyone who's currently using Java anywhere else.

      I really can't think of any new revenue sources that have come along in the Ballmer era. If all he's doing is treading water, then they might as well pay peanuts to a chimp - it'll shriek and gibber and fling chairs just as well as Uncle Fester.

      Zune and Kin were warmups for their new mobile launchs.

      Xbox has finally broken even and has gone from nothing to the best console for revenue. And because of all those Xbox live subscription now they just need to sit back and keep doing what they are doing and make a pile of money off it. As far as the new generation of console.. Nintendo and Sony have to sink the same sort of resources into new ones as well so I'm not sure how that figures as a disadvantage to Microsoft.

      If there have been no new revenue sources during Ballmers era then how do you explain Microsoft's revenue doubling in the last 8 years? I can tell you one product that has developed into a billion dollar business off the top of my head: Sharepoint.

      I know everyone here is anti Microsoft but the fact is they are still a very viable company and they have the resources to get things wrong 5 times until they get the formula right and then they just keep going.

    • I don't like the slant of the last part of your post.

      --
      Toro

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Hotmail is a has been

      FYI, there are 1.5 times as many Hotmail users than there are Yahoo! mail users, and 2.5 times as many as GMail users.

      It would be interesting to see the rates of new registrations also, but even if those look really bad for Hotmail, it's clearly not a "has been" yet - it's gonna take some more time.

  • If asked, I'm willing to serve.

  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:21AM (#33030504) Journal

    Stock is a LOUSY indication of a CEO's performance. Even the article itself makes this clear, earnings went up together with profits, yet stock price went down.

    The stock market is about emotion and it seems to be run by 12yr old boys. "OMG the MS did notzers hve 9 trillion winnezers, SELLORS!" This is after all the stock market that gave billions in value to web companies that gave things away for free and refused to buy stocks in decades old companies with reliable safe markets.

    Ballmer, as much as I despise the guy, is the CEO MS has to have. Yes, MS COULD try to be an Apple, but it can't. No Zune team, the problem ain't Ballmer, the problem is YOU! The MS staff, those 100.000 people who couldn't come up with an original thought if it bid them on the ass because you are to busy watching the stock market.

    Just as a dog reflects its owner, a CEO reflects his company. MS is the boring spreadsheet maker. It can't do an iPod or indeed a PS3. Little Big Planet could NEVER have been a MS project. Simply doesn't fit. Why do you think MS bought up so many game companies and then sold them again? They try to buy the color they lack only to find everything turning gray in their hands. They got the midas touch, expect that everything turns to lead. And lead sells very well indeed. But it ain't sexy.

    MS can't ever be sexy, it is not its role in life. IBM isn't sexy either and it does very well because of it. If you want sexy, you go to Sun... and yes that Sun has been bought up says a LOT about how well sexy works. If you want a boring reliable server, you go IBM.

    And if you want to outfit 10000 workplaces with an OS/productivity solution, you go MS.

    The Zune and Windows Mobile are side excercises, they may someday result in a profit on their own but the cash cows remain Windows and Office and nothing has changed under Ballmers leadership. It is just that in the stock market, improving your earnings and profits results in a lower stock price because you didn't give all your money away and hope to make it up in bulk.

    • by Asic Eng (193332) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:34AM (#33030756)
      No Zune team, the problem ain't Ballmer, the problem is YOU! The MS staff, those 100.000 people who couldn't come up with an original thought if it bid them on the ass because you are to busy watching the stock market.

      Well, if a single programmer doesn't succeed, then it might well be his own fault. If a whole development team fails to achieve results, you might want to look at the managment structure - wrong hiring strategy, unrealistic goals, poor planning, are likely candidates. If the whole company has a bad culture - then you need to look at the people who are running the company. You don't get thousands of people conspiring to do a bad job, if their performance is bad in then there has to be a reason.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Dare nMc (468959)

      earnings went up together with profits, yet stock price went down.

      And that's not enough to justify investors (even if it were correct, because it's not.) Investors are looking for return on investment, they same as you would expect with a compounded interest rate. If you invested $10,000 ten years ago and locked in at 8%, and took no money out, you wouldn't still be making $800 a year now. You would have over $20,000 now, and be making $1600 a year. Since in 10 years Microsofts profits haven't doubled, and they haven't bought back as much stock as they have given out

  • by Slash.Poop (1088395) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:23AM (#33030540) Homepage
    One has a primary focus of SOFTWARE and secondary focus on GADGETS
    One has a primary focus of GADGETS and secondary focus on SOFTWARE
  • by Linker3000 (626634) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:25AM (#33030576) Journal
    Mr Darl McBride to the white courtesy phone.


    /A surreal moment
    • by McNihil (612243)

      No Darl that is the red phone. The white phone is right beside it.

      Loosely from "Airplane!"

  • by starglider29a (719559) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:27AM (#33030630)
    Tony Hayward is available!

    He's got the "right stuff".
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-07-26/leadership-tips-from-tony-hayward-or-not-.html [bloomberg.com]
    • Deny and minimize problems
    • Emphasize your own power and importance.
    • Make the story all about you
    • Never apologize, and don't even pretend to learn from your mistakes.
    • Hang onto your job even when it's clear you should go

    And experience in negatively impacting an entire ecosystem. Perfect! (Also perfect that this article posted 14 minutes before the Slashdot article. ;-)

  • Are you serious? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bravecanadian (638315) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:46AM (#33030976)

    I've said it before and I'll say it again. Despite what everyone on slashdot and idiot day traders say:

    MSFT Revenue 2002: $28B Profit: $5B

    MSFT Revenue 2010: $62B Profit: $18.7B

    Yeah.. he's doing a horrible job. And obviously Microsoft can't do anything right and is only declining.

    Seriously, how can anyone even begin to say that?

  • How will they decide the successor? A chair throwing contest???

  • by westlake (615356) on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:30PM (#33031870)

    Microsoft's fourth quarter profits were $4.52 billion dollars, up 48% from the same period last year.

    This, in most circles, would be considered good news.

    Lost from view is what arguably is Microsoft's very best story -- its transformation into a powerhouse supplier of the specialized software that meets the complex needs of large corporations, what the trade calls selling to "the enterprise."

    Microsoft's enterprise software business alone is approaching the size of Oracle. But despite that astounding growth, Microsoft must accept that, fair or not, victories on the enterprise side draw about as much attention as being the No. 1 wholesale seller of plumbing supplies. Microsoft won't receive the adoring attention that its chief rival draws with products like the iPad. Even With All Its Profits, Microsoft Has a Popularity Problem [nytimes.com]

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