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Microsoft Businesses

It's Not a New Ballmer Microsoft Needs; It's a New Gates 211

Posted by timothy
from the round-table-needs-arthur dept.
theodp writes "Over at GeekWire, Todd Bishop posits that Microsoft doesn't need to replace Steve Ballmer as much as it needs to replace Bill Gates. 'The perennial push to oust Ballmer is back,' Bishop says. 'But as long as we're all going down this path again, there's actually a larger issue to address: Microsoft no longer has an overarching technology leader next to the CEO at the top of the company – someone with a strong engineering background and technical vision, surveying the field and calling the plays. There will never be another Bill Gates. But there should be someone in his former role as chief software architect, if not in title, then at least in effect.' Ray Ozzie was supposed to be The One, but for some reason that never really worked out (Dave Winer warns BigCo politics can crush even the most innovative). Any thoughts on who might 'fill the bill'?"
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It's Not a New Ballmer Microsoft Needs; It's a New Gates

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  • by Kamiza Ikioi (893310) on Friday July 01, 2011 @07:17AM (#36632210) Homepage

    Ironically, the best thing for Microsoft would be what could have been the result of its anti-trust problems, a company split. It's doing too much, in too many different directions, with too much rigidity. It needs to spin off its divisions and break away from the mother ship. The OS division and the mobile division should be one unit, the business productivity apps another unit, and the gaming division the third unit. Thinking that one CEO can do all that right for all those divisions is like trying to catch lightning in a bottle. It's not too big to fail, its too big to succeed.

    • ...is like trying to catch lightning in a bottle.

      ... sorry, couldn't resist! [wikipedia.org]

    • The gaming and OS (do we put .net here as well?) divisions depend heavily on each other: MS can say no DirectX11 for XP, and people flock to Windows 7. And the gaming division heavily benefits from the high level of compatibility between XBox360 and Windows OS-es (easier gameports, less money and time spent on training developers ).

      • by mangu (126918) on Friday July 01, 2011 @08:18AM (#36632686)

        The problem when divisions depend on each other like you mention is that innovating [wikipedia.org] becomes very hard to do.

        If Microsoft were split in several independent companies they would have to abandon their traditional "embrace and extend" strategy and learn to work together with others in following standards. That would be good for them.

        "Embrace and extend" only works when you have an undisputed monopoly, which Microsoft now has only in desktop systems, and nobody knows for how long even that monopoly will last.

        • I don't say the current setup is good, I'm saying that Microsoft won't split up unless it's forced to do so.

    • by Lifyre (960576)

      I don't think that is necessarily the solution but having a bigger disconnect from the CEO wouldn't be bad. Microsoft is trying to homogenize the experience across their platforms which completely splitting the company could make more difficult.

      The biggest problem here is that the person with the vision to make all of that happen should be the CEO or at least equivalent in power. Ballmer is a business guy and it shows. He doesn't need to be replaced on the operations side but he does need to be replaced

    • by NEDHead (1651195)

      I agree. Much like AT&T, only in this case it will be the baby Bills (followed naturally by the regional Bills, the consolidated Bills, the reconstituted Bills, and finally the re-integrated Bills with nameless nobodies running ponderous oligopolies unresponsive to users' real needs. Oh, wait, nevermind, just leave it alone)

    • I don't think they really need to split. That'd duplicate resources to some extent, I think. They already fight internally and act like separate competing companies anyways instead of making a better software product everyone benefits from with a common vision. This recent post on Cult of Mac shows this quite well: http://www.cultofmac.com/apple-ms-google-etc-imagined-as-fun-org-charts/102917?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+cultofmac%2FbFow+(Cult+of+Mac) [cultofmac.com]
    • Doing too much needn't be an issue. You can see large Japanese corporations doing that successfully all the time. If there is an issue, then it is in the way the company is managing this.

      Somewhere along the line the company needs to act as an assembly of smaller companies, but with a single flag. Each focuses on their strengths and manages their own budget, but maintain the image and leadership of the bigger entity. They should all be helping each other and not trying to fight esch other.

      Business management

  • by FatLittleMonkey (1341387) on Friday July 01, 2011 @07:19AM (#36632230)
    I wonder what would happen to Microsoft's share price if Gates himself stepped back into the role?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by MrDoh! (71235)

      Sure it'd have a jump up in price by a fair bit..
      Then Gates himself doing the spiel for Windows 8, that'd get a bump too. The amount of press headlines would give a surge, but he'd have to be back and actually involved to maintain it I think. That'd take a few years so he can get back upto speed on what's there now and direct going forward for a couple of product releases.

      Apart from that joke about bumping into Bill in the Airport, if it ever did happen, I'd love to have a good chat with him over a cof

    • by ErikZ (55491) *

      Increase in share price would be a reflection on MS's ability to grow.

      There's is no where for MS to grow anymore.

      Imagine them being a power company, that has already extended everywhere. Short of banning birth control, you can't make more customers.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    What, exactly, did Gates do for MS as a technology leader?

    MS Bob
    Ignore the internet
    ActiveX
    Illegal practices

    They HAVE a Bill Gates there. Ballmer is doing what Gates managed to do to them in the past.

  • I mean, after all, isn't Microsoft pretty much the only company in existence that could afford to hire him at this point? They should just try to do that.
    • He wasn't the same after the antitrust trial.

  • He might fit the technical bill at the company but I'm not sure he has the innovative skill. I mean, he wrote Sysinternals and knows Windows in and out--but how well he could translate that technical knowledge into some new and exciting product, who knows.
    • by Mr Bubble (14652)

      Well, not just Sysinternals - that was the freeware - there was also the entire product line of Winternals to consider - Recovery Manager, Defrag Manager, Protection Manager, Administrator's Pak,,,,

      Not to mention he is a Fellow working on the Azure platform.

      I don't know whether he would be a good CEO or not, but it is more than just Systinternals.

  • "...There will never be another Bill Gates

    Er, a comment like that...uh, isn't that quite the slap in the face of all the aspiring and probably just as brilliant engineers at Microsoft? I would tend to think so. People probably thought the same thing years ago when the "other" Steve left Apple, and yet they certainly aren't suffering these days.

    • People probably thought the same thing years ago when the "other" Steve left Apple, and yet they certainly aren't suffering these days.

      Uh, that's because Jobs returned to Apple.

      Oh. You mean the OTHER other Steve. Too many Steve's working in the tech industry!

      :)

      • Steve Wozniak running Microsoft would certainly be a sight to see. This is the new Windows tablet. It has USB and I soldered the connectors on myself"

    • by Machtyn (759119)
      No, the NBA was looking for its next Wilt Chamberlain or Dr. J and instead got Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. The NBA didn't have to wait long before a type of Dr. J replacement came along in Michael Jordan. After Jordan, the league was trying to find its next Jordan. It is still looking, but in that time it got Shaq and a host of other wannabees.

      In the NFL, they had Johnny Unitas and Roger Staubach, but even for them they didn't have to wait long to find their replacement of superstar QBs, but none of
    • by RobDude (1123541)

      I don't think so. I think it's an entirely different thing.

      MS hires a lot of great developers. But the fact that they (presumably) finished college and looked for a job shows they are walking down an entirely different path than Bill Gates ever did. There is a big difference in skills/mindsets between someone who starts a company doing X and being someone who does X full-time.

  • by CuteSteveJobs (1343851) on Friday July 01, 2011 @07:32AM (#36632304)
    > Ray Ozzie was supposed to be The One, but for some reason that never really worked out

    Some reason? The guy created the Lotus Notes. Compared to that Windows 3.1 should be hanging in The Louvre.

    • by IrquiM (471313)
      I wish we'd gone back to Lotus Notes... Now we're stuck in some shithole between Exchange and Sharepoint!
    • by Toonol (1057698)
      Have links stopped working in slashdot comments? I'm on Firefox 5.0, and none of those worked... had to cut and paste the link. Is it just me, or is it affecting others?
  • by 0111 1110 (518466) on Friday July 01, 2011 @07:33AM (#36632320)

    What Microsoft needs is someone who understands what an Operating System is and what it is not. A genuine geek who understands that a 40 GB operating system is wasteful and unnecessary and a sign of incompetence and stupidity. Someone who understands that when your software grows to 10 times the size of your competitors (Linux and OSX) something is badly wrong and needs to be fixed. When you don't know the first thing about coding you have no business managing coders. It will all just turn into one giant predictable mess. As we have seen with post-Gates Microsoft.

    • A genuine geek who understands that a 40 GB operating system is wasteful and unnecessary...

      You're only supposed to install one copy of it you know...

    • by timeOday (582209)
      Rather, somebody who realizes the PC OS is "done" and it will never again be a big growth industry like it once was.
    • by gauauu (649169)

      A genuine geek who understands that a 40 GB operating system is wasteful and unnecessary and a sign of incompetence and stupidity.

      What OS are you referring to?

      I recently installed windows 7 professional on my netbook that only has an 8 GB hard drive. I think it took 7 of those 8 gigs? Either way, that's a little high, but fairly reasonable -- If I recall correctly, a default ubuntu install is somewhere around 3GB and Snow Leapord supposedly takes about 5 gigs.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by laffer1 (701823)

      What reality are you in? All modern operating systems are bloated and big. It's a fact. Most Linux distros install a bunch of crap the user will never use. Even KDE and Gnome (especially gnome) are rather large. The QT4 push helped, but when the SOURCE CODE to qt4 is over 100MB, what do you think the compiled result is going to be. Gnome is now using a lot of python scripts and changing their minds all the time, that's even worse.

      This is just the state of computing.. people have heard disk and ram are

    • Seriously? 40GB? People actually +mod grand exaggerations like that?

  • As demonstrated by Apple, where the new Steve Jobs is... Steve Jobs. Gates isn't coming back.

    At this point Ballmer has too much tenure and is too deeply entrenched; the only way to overrule him is to kick him out of the room. MS needs to rid themselves of Ballmer and replace him with someone that has technical vision. Ray Ozzie should have Ballmer's Job. But that will never happen, because Ray's employee number at MS was more than 200.

  • Hey, he just finished completely fucking up FCP with the release of FCPX. Why not let him do for Microsoft like he's done for Apple?

  • A tech leader and visionary is needed. I agree. They also need to oust Ballmer...and not replace him. A person talented enough to be a tech leader wouldn't want to work for the kind of company a "Ballmer" makes Microsoft into....where enthusiasm for innovative IT is thwarted by a "windows tax" and a culture of protecting existing technology from yesterday.

  • Ballmer is the core problem that needs to be solved. The fact that Ballmer has not yet put in a replacement for Gates shows that Ballmer is, indeed, the problem.

    .
    Any discussion about replacing Gates is premature so long as Ballmer is allowed to continue mismanaging the company.

  • I think the dual Consumer / Entreprise personnality can't work: the reliability, compatibility, steadfastness that entreprise clients want is mostly incompatible with the glitter, constant change, and nimbleness to the lastest buzz that consumers want. MS clung to Windows' desktop UI way to long on their smartphones, certainly in the name of synergy... What synergy does a 1% marketshare bring ?

    Also, MS seems to lack courage. The recent successes (kinect, xbox...) all were in brand new fields where no feathe

  • Don't let the chair hit you in the ass on the way out!
  • The push to get rid of Steve Ballmer isn't because they need a "new" Steve Ballmer. It was because Steve Ballmer isn't able to fill Bill Gates' shoes and provide the vision Microsoft needs.

    It isn't about a "new" Ballmer as much as it is you'll need to remove Ballmer himself to successfully get a new visionary in there. Unless he is totally gone, he'll have too much say in the way things are run and he just doesn't have what it takes.

  • someone with a strong engineering background and technical vision, surveying the field and calling the plays.

    The should hire Linux Torvalds!

  • One thing Bill Gates never ever had is "strong engineering background and technical vision". He is an excellent strategist without even the smallest hint of a conscience.

    From the moment he bought QDos from Seattle Technologies and onwards its been a technological disaster with all decisions taken with the aim of crushing competition. The tech has always been behind anything else in priority. Internet Explorer is an excellent example where the desire to kill Netscape lead to its integration into Windows, a d

    • One thing Bill Gates never ever had is "strong engineering background and technical vision". He is an excellent strategist without even the smallest hint of a conscience.

      From the moment he bought QDos from Seattle Technologies and onwards its been a technological disaster with all decisions taken with the aim of crushing competition. The tech has always been behind anything else in priority. Internet Explorer is an excellent example where the desire to kill Netscape lead to its integration into Windows, a decision people thought would only lead to problems at the time, something that still plagues Windows from a security standpoint.

      I suggest reading up on third party accounts on what really happened since the Dos trials with Digital and onwards.

      And why a plane was unable to land when someone's son was making an offer that changed everything? (sigh)

  • So if they call, I suppose I could consider an offer.

    Perhaps.

    Damn, I'll have to move though, won't I? That's never good. And it's awfully rainy up there in MicroTown.

    Still, to get to replace that damned paperclip character (or the search dog) with something cute, something toad-ish perhaps ...

    Toad-san

  • I'm not convinced that he'd be the right person at this time, though. He was visionary enough to see that a software company was a good idea; he saw the good idea of other people and either plagiarized or bought them; he was a ruthless businessman who resorted to unethical methods to claw his way up from the bottom, reach the top, and stay at the top. When you think about it, are those the qualities that Microsoft needs today? Post-investigation, Microsoft needs a softer, gentler hand. Ironically, Ballm

  • by tekrat (242117) on Friday July 01, 2011 @08:26AM (#36632758) Homepage Journal

    Is that they have no taste. They have absolutely no taste, and... I don't mean that in a small way, I mean that in a big way... (Steve Jobs, commenting on Microsoft in PBS's Triumph of the Nerds documentary).

    Even John Dvorack thinks that MS is brain-dead. He correctly pointed out YEARS AGO (more than a decade) that if Microsoft *really* employs the best and the brightest, as their PR claims, why is their software so backwards? He took an example of using the "copy" function.

    When you drag a bunch of icons to copy stuff from one drive to another, it blindly starts the copy, it doesn't check if there's enough space, it doesn't check if there's a file already at the destination with the same name, so, if this copy is going to take hours, you have to monitor it for any pop-up alerts. Because any of these issues will stop the copy dead. It's 2011 guys, why is "copy" still a function like it's 1950? Is this *really* what the best and brightest can achieve?

    MS needs a top to bottom overhaul. They are too mired in management, and even brilliant engineers can't rise to the top in such an environment. MS's greatest innovations came from stealing other people's ideas.

    These days, people are smart enough to NOT approach Microsoft to give a demo of new technology, so MS has less and less people to steal from, hence their perceived lack of innovation.

    If MS wants to innovate, they are better off separating into two companies -- one that serves their corporate interests, making "Enterprise" software, reliable and dull, that gets updated every 7 years, while the other creates glitzy consumer stuff that can crash, but at least it's cutting-edge, and churns out new OS releases yearly.

    And while I've got your attention; what's with the crap in the summary? Bill Gates doesn't have an engineering background, he's a college drop-out. He's not even visionary -- every idea he's ever had was stolen from someone else. Don't get me wrong, I admire his tenacity and drive to dominate the software industry, but that's been his ONLY vision - to be bigger than every other company. Well, he did that, until Google came along.

    • by Xacid (560407)

      "When you drag a bunch of icons to copy stuff from one drive to another, it blindly starts the copy, it doesn't check if there's enough space, it doesn't check if there's a file already at the destination with the same name, so, if this copy is going to take hours, you have to monitor it for any pop-up alerts. Because any of these issues will stop the copy dead. It's 2011 guys, why is "copy" still a function like it's 1950? Is this *really* what the best and brightest can achieve?"

      THANK YOU.

      And I'm a pretty

      • by phorest (877315)

        You get a gold star for your observation.
        Thank You for your Thank You...

      • This has been fixed 5 years ago... on Vista and Windows 7. Please, get with the times.

      • by Mr Bubble (14652)

        Why not handle it like ftp clients

        or handle it the way it is handled on the Mac. Overwrites and lack of space are addressed immediately - then the copy proceeds.

        I thought this was fixed in 7?

  • When so many people at Microsoft all conform to a similar corporate vision and the ones who think outside the box, such as Ozzie, didn't last and are no longer with the company, who could take the reigns without either continuing down the path of Gates/Balmer or conflicting with the vast majority of employees? I'm willing to bet if Microsoft found a guy like Steve Jobs to take the CEO position it would cause so much internal strife that it would hurt the company. There would be too many disagreements and pe

    • by Mr Bubble (14652)

      Completely agree. The last thing you would want to do is introduce quality and ethics into Microsoft. It'll never fly!

  • I'm ready to start any time. I can work an extra hour here and there, and I'll only ask for a few million in "golden parachute" money if and when I drive the company in the ground. Thereby saving the board and the investors hundreds of millions of dollars.

    And really could I be any worse than Balmer?
    I think not. I could send out teams of legal minions to defeat any upstart enterprise just as easily as he does. Hell I might even innovate something just for fun. Wouldn't that be hoot!

  • Bill never was... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 01, 2011 @08:51AM (#36633000)

    Microsoft is not thinking in this way because they know Bill Gates. He is not a great technologist. He is not a great programmer. He is an excellent salesman and executive.

    This has always been why Microsoft succeeded despite having products in most ways inferior to their competition. Go read the story of Gates and the first BASIC rom.

    • by Raenex (947668)

      Go read the story of Gates and the first BASIC rom.

      Yes, go read it [vanityfair.com]. He was one of the key programmers to implement BASIC in 4k. They beat everybody to the punch with a good business idea and a solid technical achievement.

      This whole idea that Gates was just a ruthless businessman is ridiculous. He was a ruthless businessman, but that's only half the story.

  • by Ironpoint (463916) on Friday July 01, 2011 @08:55AM (#36633042)

    Microsoft is way past the stage where techies are in control or driving the vision. Yeah, it would benefit Microsoft to have a very smart person in a top position, but current management, who probably have never held technical roles, would never allow that to happen. Rule number one in management is, if you are dumb, make sure everyone around you is dumber.

    • by PPH (736903)

      Mod parent up.

      Innovative people tend to be independent. Idiots protect their power base with sheer numbers.

  • by bberens (965711) on Friday July 01, 2011 @08:59AM (#36633074)
    Saying we need another Gates is like saying America needs Bush back as President. The fact of the matter is the company, and country, were already sinking by the time the torch was handed off to the new guy. Whether or not the new guy is better/worse than the last guy is up to your individual preferences I guess.
  • Color me surprised (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JamesP (688957) on Friday July 01, 2011 @09:20AM (#36633268)

    "Ray Ozzie was supposed to be The One, but for some reason that never really worked out "

    Gee, I wonder why...

    MS hired the most nerd, bland, responsible for the most boring piece of software person ever, AND IT DIDN'T WORK OUT

    All that talk Steve Jobs gives, about passion, liberal arts, etc, may seem BS, but it is needed sometimes.

    Bill Gates of course is a geek, but he can 'kick ass'.

    Ray Ozzie seems the kind of idiot that at first chance would put everybody and all products in a strict 'waterfall process'/'design by committee'.

  • Steve Ballmer is emblematic of the problem with American corporations. He's a business man, not an engineer or a designer; his background is in economics. This means he lacks a fundamental understanding of what his company does. He's never been in the trenches so he doesn't really have an innate understanding of the technology. And these kinds of guys, far too often, lack real passion. That lack of passion means they wont really be able to commit to what may be a good idea because it wont pay off in the sho

  • Possibly not the best fit... but in some ways, MS needs to do something different.
  • I was voted most likely to replace Bill Gates by my high school.
  • and his name is Mark Zuckerberg.
  • someone with a strong engineering background and technical vision, surveying the field and calling the plays

    ...would (unlike Bill Gates) immediately see that the way forward is Open Source software and Open Standards. On the OS side, Windows would become an API wrapper on top of a BSD Unix kernel. The Office team would drop their ridiculous OOXML format and use ODF.

    It's not like they couldn't compete that way: Microsoft Research hire a lot of very smart people. It's just that currently, the Windows and

  • You mean new gates at the entrance to keep people like Ballmer out?

  • The key to Microsoft's success had nothing to do with any of the people there, aside from their willingness to do anything in the name of profit. What made MS the powerhouse it used to be was MS Office, and the stranglehold it had over businesses. At one time, the inability to create or use Word or Excel documents was a huge detriment to any company who dared defy convention. This gave MS the monopoly power they abused to crush competition and force people to buy their products. Now, after numerous anti

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