back to article Ballmer upset by Apple cart

Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer yesterday openly acknowledged Apple's "thriving" success in the lucrative consumer market. Historically, Ballmer has not often taken Apple seriously as a competitor. Well, apart from dismissing the iPhone as "niche" and iPod owners being thieves of course. Ballmer outlined his “priorities” in an …


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  1. Piers

    nobody is better than we are....

    WTF? MS might have done some good stuff here and there, but FFS if they really think "nobody is better than we are" then they're in for a shock when they finally wake up. It almost seems cruel to whisper 'Vista' in their general direction...

  2. Mike Crawshaw

    Lingering Doubts

    "He told staff that the company will address "any lingering doubts our customers may have about Windows Vista”. "

    There are definitely some doubters out there. Just yesterday, I heard someone say it's "not really THAT bad"...

    Nice of Ballmer to confirm that yes, it is a bloated PoS. There was I, doubting his integrity...

    Oh? Is that not what he meant?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    buying search

    Why don't they program it themselves. surely they could code a fast, efficient.....hahahahahaha sorry.

  4. Belxjander Serechai

    Tenacious is right...

    Tenacious like noxious weeds...

    All weeds were once normal plants... its just the definition of which "class"

    between flower and weed that defines the aggravation factor...

    everything starts somewere... and some things that are weeds one place

    maybe flowers elsewhere...

    personally I would like to see "M$" 'innovate' without the draconian stranglehold

    maybe actually dropping FUD and using pure truth might be too much?

  5. Edward Noad
    Paris Hilton

    Best in the World at What?

    "Best in the world at doing software and nobody should be confused about this"

    And he's right. Everyone knows that 'doing' is a euphemism for *ahem* something and Microsoft 'does' software like no other company on the face of planet.

    Paris, because she needs it explained to her.

  6. Thomas

    Is this anything more than an internal morale memo?

    It doesn't seem to actually explain what they're going to do about any of their competitors.

    For my money, Microsoft's problem is that they're facing enemies that are making advancing gains on all sides. Apple, Android and open-source Symbian threaten to finally stamp out their mobile dreams, Apple are doing sufficiently well on the desktop to give them some incredible PR headaches and open-source stacks are efficient competitors in the server space. They're late to the small, cheap computer market and they've never really caught up in the internet space.

    In the meantime, everyone knows that Ballmer is a shouting child and their antics around Yahoo, ISO and the EU have left no doubt that the corporation as a whole is a mean, heartless entity that has no interest in a healthy market.

    What they should do is show a little humility and start trimming some of the excesses. Dump the Zune, accept web standards, sign up for OpenCL, update their implementations of POSIX and OpenGL (though there's no reason to stop pushing DirectX as the main API, that seems to be working quite well for them), dump XPF or whatever their PDF rival is called as a file format, kill Silverlight and refocus their mobile efforts on software and services for other mobile platforms. Focus on the Xbox, the desktop, everything Outlook and Exchange related (where they're well ahead of the competition - look how much difficulty Apple have had making MobileMe work) and servers that serve people with desktops (rather than web pages or whatever).

    I don't think there is currently anyone with any hope of displacing their desktop majority, but at least ten years after stamping out their last real rival I can't help feeling they're opening the door. Linux is probably already good enough for anyone that wants to manufacture and sell computers as appliances, but what we really need is something more monolithic like a BeOS or an OS/2 but that looks credible enough to allow the Dells and HPs of the world to dictate at lest some terms.

  7. Robert Moore
    Gates Horns

    Funny funny stuff

    while our commitment to choice often comes with some compromises to the end-to-end experience," said Ballmer.


    claiming to be the best in the world at doing software

    The man has a future in stand-up comedy.

  8. TeeCee Gold badge

    Buying Search.

    I guess the execs must have become too pissed off at having to use Google to find aquisition targets.

    They gave up using Windows Live Search after they'd bought a Florists, a Trucking company and aquired a 40% stake in a Trappist monastery.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Ballmer's Choice ("Vista or nothing...")

    "...while our commitment to choice often comes with some compromises to the end-to-end experience," said Ballmer.

    (1) Translates to "we produce really shitty software".

    (2) Talking of shit... when he refers to "the end-to-end experience", is he talking about... no, surely not...

  10. davebarnes

    Only one way to do this

    "We’ll do the same with phones—providing choice as we work to create great end-to-end experiences."

    I hope he is planning on buying a bunch of phone companies. As Apple is learning, the phone companies are the weak link in the chain.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    An idiot I guess!!

    Steve Ballmer is an idiot and always has been... in my opinion at least because he has always ridiculed apple and other competition instead of realizing it as a true threat and to really prove his idiotic thinking he realizes this threat now !!

  12. Mike Moyle

    You can't make this stuff up...!

    “Search is the key to unlocking the enormous market opportunities in advertising, and it is an area that is >>ripe for innovation<<,”

    Well, that puts THEM out, then!

  13. Charlie van Becelaere
    Jobs Horns

    Fester's Tune

    I can just hear him warbling this one:

    Vista is the greatest and best OS in the world... Tribute.

    Long time ago me and my brother billg here,

    we was hitchhikin' down a long and lonesome road.

    All of a sudden, there shined a shiny demon... in the middle... of the road.

    And he said:

    "Code the best OS in the world, or I'll eat your soul."

    Well me and billg, we looked at each other,

    and we each said... "O crap."

    Demon Jobs for obvious reasons, and apologies to Jack Black.

  14. Goat Jam

    Ballmer apparently does understand Microsofts business

    Microsoft are simply unable to compete if the playing field even approaches being level.

    "In the competition between PCs and Macs, we outsell Apple 30-to-1."

    Any other business who's nearest competitor held that percentage of the market would hardly even acknowledge their existence.

    Unfortunately for Ballmer, Microsofts entire business model relies on consumers assuming that computers=MS Windows, and anyone who threatens to show even the smallest market penetration is a major problem to the maintenance of the "ignorant user" status quo.

    Just today I was doing a class on C++ with a bunch of Chinese guys who were totally flummoxed by the concept that the practical work was to be done using g++ in Linux. Almost all of them wanted to know how they could do the assignment and labwork using visual studio in XP because anything else was totally alien to them.

    It is this sort of blinkered vision that MS are totally reliant on to maintain their market position, and Ballmer knows it. When people become used to accepting that different platforms exist then Microsofts domination of the industry will end.

    I bet it scares the shit out of him.

  15. Chris Thorpe

    Comparing Apples with ???

    'We outsell Apple 30 to 1...'.

    With a little help from HP, Dell, Lenovo etc who make the hardware. And who will cheerfully load said hardware with Linux, licensed MacOS, etc as soon as the market will bear it.

    Mini laptops from Asus, the Linux bios, etc, show the hardware vendors' desire to have a 2nd-source for operating systems. So, Steve, good luck in compelling those vendors to build to your PC reference platform, or however else you envisage enforcing tighter integration.

    Still, should be a good excuse to add a few more stickers next to the laptop keyboard. 'Zune-approved', anyone?

  16. Kenny Millar
    Gates Horns

    Oh forPete's sake.

    Does Ballmer no know what he's saying?

    I love to slap him on the head - maybe that'd wkae him up.

    Has he ever even seen some of the other software that's out there, stuff that people like Google, and Apple are doing? He really thinks they are better then that? He is so blind it's scary.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Ballmer = Comedy Gold.

    I can just see him raving and foaming at the mouth as he penned that memo..

    He's the greedy obnoxious fat kid at a kids party, sees one kid with a cake and barges his way to get cake, none left? no problem, steal the other kid's cake. Sees another kid with a chicken leg.. barges his way to get chicken leg.. in the end, he's the fat kid in the corner of the room, face covered in cake, chicken leg in mouth who's been told off by the parents for monopolizing the buffet wondering why no-one wants to play with him

    ...and why no-one wants a slice of the lard pie he brought to the party.

  18. Doug Glass

    RE: Plans to compete with 'thriving' rival

    Monkey Boy obviously thinks Apple is now a threat worthy of M$'s competitive efforts. This should give us all clues into his real intelligence. The Peter Principle is in full force here as he obviously has no concept of what competition is and who he needs to target.

    I wonder how the M$ war machine feels about that one-time gift of money to Apple to keep them alive? My memory is not to clear but I seem to remember $5M maybe fifteen years ago or something like that.

    Wow...throw the man a banana.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ok, then ...

    if they are as good at software as Ballmer says they are, then they should have had no reason to want to buy Yahoo because they should be far better qualified to develop the search technology that will catch up with Google. And why haven't they developed that technology yet anyway? Why are they still talking about catching up? Seems to me the only people confused about Microsofts abilities are Microsoft themselves.

  20. Alex McKenna

    Us against Them? Which US?

    Who is this "WE" he is talking about?

    The whole computer business?

    Apple aren't doing half bad against that lot!

  21. Oli Stockman
    Jobs Horns


    Why is it I always get one of those little shudders of horror when Ballmer utters statements like 'Opportunities to change the world'... like he hasn't corrupted it enough already......

  22. Lewis Mettler

    illegal business practices persist

    Microsoft is consistent even if Ballmer meant to say they will stick with their illegal practice of forcing consumers to buy, install, maintain and support key applications and products such as Microsoft networking technology, browsers and media players.

    Screw the consumer is the plan.

  23. James Pickett


    ..if he really believes that stuff. Well, worrying for MS - quite heartening for the rest of the world, who would quite like a level playing field and freedom from his kind of 'innovation' (not to mention airborne furniture).

  24. ChessGeek

    The Louder the Chest-Thumping...

    ...the bigger the doubts.

  25. Jeff
    Thumb Down

    MS in a nutshell...

    Jack of all trades, master of none.

    And buy our crappy OS NOW 'cause we're never going to fix it.

  26. James Le Cuirot

    @Goat Jam

    "Just today I was doing a class on C++ with a bunch of Chinese guys who were totally flummoxed by the concept that the practical work was to be done using g++ in Linux. Almost all of them wanted to know how they could do the assignment and labwork using visual studio in XP because anything else was totally alien to them."

    Heh I remember feeling like that in our Z notation class at Durham University in 2002. The practicals involved using LaTeX in Solaris. I liked the novelty factor but the CDE desktop made it seem really ancient and somewhat irrelevant. Something more current would have been nice but it was running off a central server and I guess they were trying to keep the hardware requirements down. Fortunately my Physicist housemate convinced me to check out Linux later that year even though he hadn't tried it himself. Now my name is in the kernel changelog. (-: Make sure those Chinese guys get the message!

  27. Webster Phreaky
    Jobs Horns

    Here's a sample of Apple's "complete experience.."

    Ballmer said: "..Because they are good at providing an experience that is narrow but complete.."

    Oh yeah? Here's MY personal "complete experience" with Apple shit from the past 15 years -

    - a 96 PowerBook 5300 model where the AC/DC circuit board caught fire.

    - a G3 600 iBook that Apple had to fix FOUR TIMES due to dead LogicBoard 2 times, LCD strips and then the famed bad LCD cable and then finally died JUST out of Apple Care warranty due to a DOA AC/DC circuit board (sound familiar?)

    - a G4 Dual 500Mhz PowerMac that's AGP slot died ONE MONTH out of warranty and Apple said "too bad, should have bought Apple Care"

    - a G5 Dual 2Ghz dead LogicBoard in warranty, and it still sounds like a 747 taking off from it's lousy PowerSupply (fans) design.

    - a Mint condition and babied G4 1GHz "TiBook" (none of those usual flaking chipping paint Flaws) but instead is now a DOOR STOP because of the FAMED LCD Failure bug at only 3.5 years of age.

    - a G4 1.2Ghz 12" iBook seldom used and looks like new (but I still bought Apple Care because Macs are shit), one of the last ones made and still part of world famous BUGGY and FLAWED iBook series (that also includes the MacBook's) - NOW has a DEAD Firewire Port so I can't plug in my over-priced iSight camera or download video from my Canon DVcorder or boot from any exteral FW hard drive!

    I have an 7 year old HP Pavillion PIII notebook that still runs perfectly just like the day I bought it .... with no Spinning Beach Ball of Wait .... and NO Win XP crashes.

    Yeah, THIS is the Apple "complete experience.." and why I will never buy anything with from Apple again. (and with similar experiences, why the School Dist. I admin the IT dept for, will never buy Macs either!)

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @THOMAS - Very good view

    Microsoft put one hand into one jar of honey and put their other hand in another jar and now they are scratching their heads as to WHY they can't win over the consumer market completely. Consolidation and refocus has to be a forth coming strategy for Microsoft as a whole if they want to stay on top. The Xbox console is a strong consumer market appliance and it needs the proper focus for it to continue to compete with Sony and Nintendo. The Xbox360 is just like Vista, its TOO bloated with stuff to be any good.

    The reason Ballmer mentions Apple is because Apple actually sits backs and listens to the hum of the murmuring and tries to satisfy the customers. They dont get it right , but you can see the attempts. Since Microsoft is soo busy running around and developing everything, there's no one to stop and say "hey, do people really want this?"

    I don't want Microsoft to burn to the ground, but with their current course, its just gonna get worst. Soon, that 30-to-1 might shrink to 15-in-1

  29. Stuart
    Gates Horns

    Ha ha haa haaa haa, lol

    My god, Ballmer has acknowledged Apple is doing well, that must mean he is really screwed. M$'s idea of a rival to the iPod was the Zune and their idea of a rival to 10.5 is vista.

    Not long now until Ballmer gets committed " WOOO YEAH, WOO I FU*KING LOVE THIS PADDED CELL! WHO SAID SIT DOWN?!?!?"

    PS where is the screaming Ballmer icon?

  30. PunkTiger

    @Edward Noad

    I believe I know what you're getting at...

    Microsoft "does" software like Debbie "Does" Dallas

    Tux... because it rhymes with "does."

  31. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Take a Jump, Steve, into Quantum Leaping. Its Easy when you know ITs Key Codes

    "while our commitment to choice often comes with some compromises to the end-to-end experience," said Ballmer. Today, we’re changing the way we work with hardware vendors to ensure that we can provide complete experiences with absolutely no compromises. We’ll do the same with phones – providing choice as we work to create great end-to-end experiences."

    Fine/Wonderful/Smashing ....How?

    Funding Virtual Pilots dDelivers IT Masters rather than Feeding Muppets and Code Phishers is the Wild West Pioneering Option. Although with Perfumed Garden Competition from the Sultry East is the Diet More Varied and Temptingly Mysterious and Seductive/Inviting/Welcoming.

    And there was Pertinent Novel Alien Commitment Posted here ....;ForumsError_MsgId=6#75207 ... which is whisked away, to Fields as yet unknown. ..... Fortunately, the Cloud retains Everything Considered Worthwhile and/or Shared Electronically.

    QuITe a Convenience for Future Memory Storage/Flash Crack Attack, is that Facility.

  32. Anonymous Coward

    Where are your new revenue streams?

    How are you planning to grow your company Mr Ballmer. They don't have any new ideas they don't have any new products that anyone wants and Apple will be taking more and more of their market share. Good!

  33. Will

    @webster Phreaky

    Your post says more about you than it does about Apple :-) You must be a real slow learner, did you not think after 5 years 'hey, these products are crap'?'re lying! I doubt very much this is your personal experience. I run a Mac support company and I rarely have to provide hardware repairs. All companies have hardware issues, Apple provides a very generous 3 year repair extension programme when there is an identified issue such as the iBook logic board. If I could be bothered, I'm sure I could find a similar list of issues over the last 15 years for any manufacturer. so you've got a HP that is 7 years old, I've got a PowerMac G3, Mac Plus and 2 PowerMac G4's that haven't missed a beat, what's your point?

    You're quite clearly a geeky idiot with a big mouth, not unusual in your line of work though.

  34. Glen Turner

    Microsoft (who can't sell stuff) telling people who actually sell stuff how to sell stuff

    Microsoft do control the end-to-end experience for two products where it could "provide complete experiences with absolutely no compromises" -- XBox and Zune. Those two products are being comprehensively outsold by Wii and iPod. Both of which are technologically inferior products, so it can only be the woeful quality of Microsoft's conception of the "end-to-end experience" which has turned customers towards its competition.

    I'm sure manufacturers will bear that in mind when Microsoft proposes "changing the way we work with hardware vendors".

    Arrogance, thy name is Ballmer.

  35. Tom

    Before they worry about ads

    They need a search tool that give you useful results. Even searching their search produces 98% random crap. Half the time I have to use google to search because MS can't find stuff on their own site. Ballmer could not find his ass with both hands.

  36. cp


    This means a designated set of pre-tested hardware components and specifications set by MS. Look for shiny holographic "Microsoft Approved" stickers on your future HPs and Dells and expect the price forentry level machines to reflect the (cough cough) improvement.

    What must really scare ballmer is that apple switchers will find little reason to come back to windows and they can run their newly purchased macs for 6 to 10 years before possibly feeling the need to replace them. That's a lot of lost revenue to microsoft - especially when they discover that free Open Office (OO) does a heck of a job replacing Microsoft Office for the mac.

  37. Martin Kelly

    Webster Phreaky

    I'm glad you don't run any IT dept of mine. You seem to be a Jinx with computers.

    I've bought and run over 200 Apple computers over the past 10 years and whilst we've had a few problems, all were sorted by Apple (some way outside of warranty)

    and I would'nt have the slighest worry about buying 200 more. Over the same time I've used many Wintel PC's with some problems again. My biggest gripe with windows is the level of support needed to keep them all running smoothly.

    Webster get a life, if you hate Apple so much, DON'T BUY THEM! DON'T USE THEM, and please don't worry about us poor saps who do buy and use them, were happy with our decisions

    If this is all the life you have by baiting Apple users, then you should be grateful to Apple for giving you a purpose in life.

    Get a Mac, get a life


  38. Anonymous Coward

    webster phreaky IS Steve Ballmer!!!

    Same insane ranting, same overly agressive/ofensive cr§p that only somebody who knows the've backed the wrong horse can come up with.

  39. Rob Cooper


    I agree with everything you said EXCEPT "kill Silverlight".. Are you nuts? Silverlight is great!?

    I am a MS dev, but I am in no way a fanboy. I too have been saying for a long time they need to consolidate their efforts. "Market Leader" doesnt mean "We do everything" it means "We are the best at what we do". There is a subtle yet HUGE difference.

    Focus on revamping/improving Windows, enforcing standards and increasing (their already vastly improving) "open doors" approach..

    I'll get my coat, this thread is just gonna be a non-MS fanboy rant. *yawn*. Pint 'o Stella and a packet of nuts plz. kthxbye.

  40. Ascylto

    @ Webster Freaky

    You're employed?

    P.s. (and more on-topic) Has anyone considered that Ballmer has Tourette Syndrome?

  41. DAN*tastik

    How to make phones a great experience

    I once had a phone with Microsoft's attempt to a phone operating system.

    Given the choice between having a MS phone again or buying a rifle and shooting myself in the bollocks, I would go for the latter anytime. But I can give them a little suggestion on how to make a better experience ( i can't force myself to say great ) : make the contact software do what the user wants to do with it, and not what you think the user should want it to do. Also, if I am playing solitaire, I wouldn't mind the phone ringing when somebody is calling. If you think it's a good idea to send calls straight to voicemails, well, it's not. Trust me

    Having said that, at work they make me use Microsoft's attempt to have their own version of MySQL. It's called SQL Server or something. Maybe they should fix that first.Here's a couple of suggestions again: if you create your own scripting language, please bother to give us a debugging tool too. And left trimming integers should result in a syntax error maybe?

  42. paul

    eee pc

    “must continue to compete against Linux in key workloads such as web servers and high performance computing”

    You can now add:

    "small cheap laptops"

  43. Slik Fandango
    Jobs Halo

    @webster freaky and other apple none fans

    I agree with everyone else! If Apple are so bad to you then stop hoggin their time and lets the rest of us get on with using them!

    I used to be a fully paid up member of the Wintel user club, then finally got fed up of all the BSODs so got myself an iMac 6 - 7 years ago. Sure - today it's a little slow and I think the FIreWire is on the fritz but so few problems it like a dream! And it actually went faster with the latest OS installed, when did theat ever happen with Windows?

    I also have a Eeeepc Lappy - thats not half bad, and looking at getting a MacBook soon.

    Sounds to me that MS are getting a little worried, but I do use Vista at work...

  44. Paul
    Jobs Horns

    FAIL. Retry, ignore or cancel?

    “Search is the key to unlocking the enormous market opportunities in advertising, and it is an area that is ripe for innovation,”

    As proven so ably by Google, who went from zero to hero in no time flat by innovating.

    If Microsoft were as capable of that as Steve-o says they are, they'd already have the search and advertising markets wrapped up with their superior technology.

    The crazy thing is, a company with their financial and engineering resources should be able to produce great products and innovate in everything they do. It speaks volumes that they do not, in fact, do this very often.

    Maybe they need to take a step back and decide to be really incredibly good at one or two things, instead of trying to dominate every aspect of the technology industry and largely failing.

    Webster, that's some run of bad luck you had there. You must have had a massive overdose of Apple Kool-Aid way back when to stick with them through all that, surely no sane person would stick with the same company that's given them such grief.

    Or maybe you're just rattling off a list of known issues with certain Apple products and you really haven't personally experienced all of that bad luck.

  45. Kieran

    @Doug Glass

    "I wonder how the M$ war machine feels about that one-time gift of money to Apple to keep them alive? My memory is not to clear but I seem to remember $5M maybe fifteen years ago or something like that."

    It was $150m in 1997. The stock at that time was at about 19. A quick look today says it's now at 162. So Microsoft's 'gift' to Apple has netted them over a billion so far without lifting a finger. Now also bear in mind that the number one software package for the Mac is MS Office, the iPhone just got Exchange support (also due in the OS next year)... and you'll realise that yeah, MS must be kicking themselves. All the way to the bank.

    You can't beat the Borg. Even when you think it's losing, it's still winning.

  46. David
    Gates Horns

    I think they sold their 50 million stock in Apple.

    I think they sold their 50 million stock in Apple.

  47. Hans


    Steve's clone was the irAki infoRmation miniStEr! I love hist stuff!

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Kieran

    First, the investment MS made in Apple back in the 90s was not a present but part of an out of court settlement over a long standing intellectual property dispute. Apple agreed to drop all their claims and waive all rights to go to court about the matter. In return Microsoft agreed to invest and commit to a Mac version of MS Office for at least 5 years. In another universe this would have just been a licensing deal but Microsoft did not want to be seen to pay license fees to Apple and needed to keep face, hence this deal the way it was structured.

    Second, Microsoft sold their non-voting Apple stock from this deal as soon as the agreement allowed them to, IIRC three years later.

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