back to article Ballmer: Time up for 'stuck in the past' Microsoft CEO?

A billionaire hedge fund manager is calling for Microsoft's chief executive Steve Ballmer's head. Could it be that the irascible Redmond kingpin's reign is finally drawing to a close? David Einhorn, president of the $5bn Greenlight Capital group, has reportedly told a conference that Ballmer's "stuck in the past" and should …


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  1. The Fuzzy Wotnot


    Couldn't agree more, it's certainly time for the Del Boy of software to hang up his medallion chain and sell the three-wheeler!

    He's not an idiot, despite trying to prove otherwise, but the world has changed and he has tried to stay the same, it simply doesn't work like that as those of us breaking the bit 4-0 barrier find out very quickly!

  2. lurker


    Stocks in furniture stores rose noticeably, in anticipation of the wholesale chair-related cataclysm which this event is likely to cause.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    People like skype, they know what it is and what it does, and where to find it. I am sure MS will ruin all that as some suit decides to rebrand it with their awful 'MSN / Windows Live' concept just like they did with Hotmail (which was a great buy at the time, they just ruined it since).

    And then they'll totally fail to invest in properly developing it too no doubt, just like hotmail, so others come along and steal their market from under them.

    Google's purchase of YouTube is how they should be doing it. Invest in the technology, but keep the familiar look and location that people know.

    1. Jim 59
      Thumb Up


      I agree with the Skype/Hotmail comparison. But I don't think Ballmer should go. Microsoft's problems are largely brand related. People hear "Microsoft" and they think: viruses, malware, annoying dialogs, that paper clip thing and the 1990s. "Windows" is similarly tainted.

      MS should buy companies and use those companies' brands as well as their tech. It is better if customers don't know that Microsoft is behind a brand (like Skype). Also they should rename Windows before trying to put it on a mobile phone or tablet. Keep the "Windows" badge for desktops only.

      Also, to keep a finger in every pie, they should launch some Android kit, even if it competes with their own mobile OS. Basically, MS should push themselves to the front of the market with whatever it takes, and not just sit in some back room with a Windws PC.

      1. Michael 47

        Time for a change?

        "Also they should rename Windows before trying to put it on a mobile phone or tablet. Keep the "Windows" badge for desktops only"

        Maybe its time to get rid of the Windows brand entirely. Windows 7 is doing well and should scale with hardware over the next few years. In the mean time, perhaps microsoft should drop Windows and design a new operating system from the ground up. It would give them a chance to innovate and to shed some of the negative perceptions regarding Windows.

        1. Chewy

          RE: Time for a change?

          Do you really believe it is a simple matter to write a new OS? When was the last time we saw a genuinely new OS? Both Android and OS X use existing *NIX implementations for the groundwork and the latter has been tweaked constantly for 10 years. Somehow I doubt whether Steve Ballmer would take that approach given his views on FOSS. Supposing it takes 5 years to write a ground-up OS do you really think Apple and Google will be standing still - look at how much catching up they have had to do in the mobile market. Anyway much of the work seems to be moving towards the cloud.

          Despite there being reliability and security issues with Windows it remain their principle brand and it takes a brave company to change the name of their cash cow.

          1. asdf

            not quite

            >Despite there being reliability and security issues with Windows it remain their principle brand

            IIRC M$ tried to port Windows to mobile devices and the result was such a bloated failure that they ended up writing a mobile os from the ground up that only pretends to behave like their desktop windows (Windows CE and its ilk). The sad thing is Unix is much older than windows but it design principals were so solid that it suffers less legacy issues that the bloated crap code base windows has become (have heard it takes a server farm several days and over 200 iterations to build the windows desktop kernel due to circular dependencies).

          2. Michael 47


            "Do you really believe it is a simple matter to write a new OS"

            Nope, i think it is incredibly difficult, and to create a decent consumer OS is a assive amount of work. I know more than a little about software development myself, so it wasn't a statement I made lightly. But just because something is difficult doesn't mean it couldn't or shouldn't be done. You can't keep building on top of the same OS over and over again, or the result is Windows ME. If everyone was like you, there would never be any progress... "The Moon! Do you know how far that is? or how much it would cost? It would take years and billions of dollars - and ts only a big rock!"

      2. SuccessCase

        @Jim 59

        "Microsoft's problems are largely brand related."

        A brand's value is a measure of how the customer feels about the company, it's products and service. So just who is it you think is responsible for ensuring the brand is held in high regard?

      3. doogdeb

        Ballmer is an idiot.

        Ballmer is an idiot end of story. How he has stayed in charge for this long is a mystery. He failed to recognise the importance of both the iPhone and iPad.

    2. Mike Richards

      Skype deal

      What was so odd about the Skype deal is that Microsoft didn't actually say what they were going do with it.

      Had they announced the deal and used the same event to say something definite like 'Skype is coming to Xbox Live' then journalists would have at least known what was planned and be able to tell consumers that Skype would bring videophones to millions of living rooms. That buys good headlines, gives the Xbox a boost and should have raised the share price.

      It's incredible that a company like Microsoft has such woeful spin doctors.

      1. Dave 15 Silver badge

        skype on...

        Yup, good idea, skype on xbox, skype on winmobile.

        Cheap calls all round, the xbox cheap calls and seeing the image on your tv. winmobile, a route to reduce the cost (some people already have this on other phones).

        As you say it would bring a point to the purchase.

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. lurker


        "YouTube is considered a colossal failure on Google's behalf."

        Considered by who? The short sighted, perhaps. It might not be the most profitable, but it's certainly the most ubiquitous and widely used video sharing site on the internet, and google owns it.

        "They still haven't figured out how to make it profitable."

        Profitability, in the short term at least, is not the only metric of success.

  4. Slartybardfast

    Ballmer should go but..

    Yep, the shouty, squeaky CEO should go. The question is who is going to fill his size nines?

    This is a serious question, should it be someone from within the company or a new broom? If it is a new broom then who has the technological vision and the respect of the investment community? Whatever happens they need to get it right first time, a job that could be very difficult. We could be in for a very interesting six months or so.

    1. James Hughes 1


      Stephen Elop?

      1. binky_256

        Elop's a waste of space and SteveB would eat him for breakfast.

        That said, SteveB has to go. A lot ofMS employees used to grumble about him still being at the helm.

        No idea who should replace him - maybe Sinofsky?

    2. Gil Grissum


      Maybe Microsoft should steal Schmidt from Google? He was after all CTO at Sun, CEO of Novell, and was CEO of Google. He'd be a fine choice to replace the bombastic joke that Balmer is. Balmer has failed at this for ten years and because he is behind the times, the company he runs is behind the times. Oust him now before he makes the situation worse for his company. Mac adoption is still on the rise and Microsoft doesn't have an answer for the Tablet market. By the time they come up with one under Balmer, they'll be further behind in that market than they are in Smart Phones.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Mac adoption is still on the rise...

        Only because the consumer base is on the rise...

        Percentage wise, the three major OSs seem to have sat pretty stagnant for the last few years.

        I do agree that MS has no answer to tablets though. Just slap WinPhlop 7 on there already and it may help boost the numbers.

        1. Giles Jones Gold badge

          Windows Mobile

          Just like WinMo they will sit on the fence and keep pushing full blown Windows for all computer devices until sales tail off. Then they will produce a new tablet OS that is two years or more behind everyone else.

    3. Mediocrates

      Who is going to fill his size nines?

      How about Larry Ellison?

    4. Anonymous Coward

      won't be me

      My feet wouldn't fit.

  5. dogged
    Dead Vulture

    Rich man demands more money

    Film at eleven.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Passenger seat drivers

    As a hedge fund manager, David Einhorn should be advised that if he doesn't like his under-performing Microsoft stock he should just sell it or STFU. The CEO and board of directors are there to run Microsoft and they're supposed to run it as a long term business, not a short-term cash cow. Einhorn's job is moving money around, not building lasting profitable companies. His decisions are made based on numbers in spreadsheet without regard for ethics, jobs, the economy or anything else*. He's the last type of person any CEO should listen to as his agenda is money now, and if the company sinks in 6 months, who cares so long as he made a buck.

    *Of course, these days most CEO's of big companies are just as mercenary as disinterested investors.

    1. Magnus_Pym

      On the other hand

      If you don't want your company to be run by the shareholders then don't go public.

    2. asdf

      in general yes, but not here

      > they're supposed to run it as a long term business

      As in doing nothing new for a decade but a long line of money losing ventures (zune, kin, Bing, etc). Balmer even threatened the cash cow with the Vista debacle. M$ only current long term strategy is to defend their only true success the windows/office monopoly by any means necessary as long as possible. Its like watching IBM doing the same with their mainframes in the late 80s.

    3. Tom 13

      You've got that bassackwards.

      As CEO of a public company your job is to make money for your shareholders. Period. That can either be done by paying dividends or increasing share value.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Perhaps a name change...

    to Microsloth

    ... 'cause "we're a little slow"

  8. Magnus_Pym

    Microsoft is an Iceberg...

    ... not a ship. While a large ship might be slow in changing direction, Microsoft has no controls at all. It just keeps on blocking the shipping lanes breaking everything it comes into contact with. Balmer, Gates and the rest of the board of director might say whatever they want but they will not be able to effect the course that the company takes. It was deliberately built that way: a monopolist leviathan to crush anything in its way.

    Windows was built on DOS and Office on Windows, everything else is built on these. It's entire profit base is an upside-down pyramid balancing on it's DOS legacy. Push too hard in any direction and the whole thing falls over.

    So sack Ballmer if it makes you happy, he has got a pretty poor track record but no-one else will be able to do any better.

    1. Adam Foxton

      It's not based on DOS

      The DOS legacy went out the window as of Windows XP, which was a consumer-ised version of 2000, which was based on WinNT- not DOS.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Modern Windows kernels

        Might be vastly different to DOS... but they too are steeped in legacy chains that hark back to DOS days.

        • Volume letters rather than a single root partition mounted at / (Windows CE is an exception here) so you can only have 26 volumes mounted at a time.

        • They still use the backslash in file paths, whereas everyone else these days uses /. (Ever tried typing those in C?)

        • By default, all users are made Administrators (a hangover from the fact that DOS had no concept of users).

        • Applications come with their own installers, rather than the unified approach used by Linux/BSD distributions (Yes, there are competing package managers, but take a single distribution, you'll find it uses one or two *compatible* package managers.)

        • File system is case insensitive (Mac OS X is too, but you can also opt to have a case sensitive file system.)

        Some of this might sound petty... the \ vs / thing trips up a lot of people though ... I often see people using \ in URLs for example. Drive letters may be seen as "easy to use", but really...

        /mnt/usb (most Linux distributions)

        /Volumes/USB Drive (MacOS X)

        \Flash Disk (Windows CE)

        F: (DOS/Windows NT)

        Which one is definitely a USB flash disk? What if the third system had a few HDD partitions mounted? It's definitely a headache for programmers having to concern themselves with what drive letter they're on.

        Case sensitivity also catches people out ... there's some documentation I've got for a system in HTML format which I need to refer to. It was written on a Windows computer. Unfortunately, the person writing it didn't stay consistent with his file naming, and thus some files are broken links for no other reason, than they spelled the link in lower case but the file in Title Case.

        These are all legacy things that came from DOS.

        I still wonder to this day, what Windows would look like if Microsoft had based the OS they developed for IBM on Xenix instead of QDOS.

  9. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  10. Figgus


    Finkle Einhorn calls for it, so it must be right, eh?

    Look, MS REAL problem with the web services era will be trust. How many of their web garbage (Messenger, Live, etc) has all but autoinstalled itself and made itself very hard to shut down over the years? I wont touch the crap.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Greed is a very dangerous drive...

    The whole problem here is IMO the thing which drives stock holders. I'm not denying that Balmer really seems to be a whacko of some sorts, absolutely not, but in general stock holders don't give a damn about a company. All they care about is making profit; and the best way to do that is by making sure that the stock prices get some variety.

    Yet one can also conclude that by keeping the stock price at a relative stable level MS as a company seems to be doing pretty well. Stability is always the better environment for a company; steady income, steady expenses and as such a steady profit.

    Another issue here is that most brokers use a very short-termed strategy. In other words; they expect ('demand') that the moment something big happens the stock prices will raise and they'll make a profit. But if a CEO has a long termed strategy which could ensure income over a longer period this may very well clash with the goals of the stock holders.

    Generalizing here but usually stock holders want to make "big money" whereas a CEO wants to make a big company. Whether this CEO is a fruitcake like Balmer or someone else doesn't make too much difference.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Still greed is the central piece

      of capitalism and the reason of why it seems to be so successful.

    2. Dave 15 Silver badge

      stock markets

      Driven by insane and stupid behaviour. Valuing some companies at massive multiples of profit (Even sometimes losses!) when they have no assets and no dividends. Where as others can make bigger and bigger profits, dole out dividends and grow but are valued less and less. There is no logic.

  12. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    This guy is fêted?

    "What makes Einhorn's comment unique is that he's the first investor to zero in on Ballmer rather than express general frustration with the performance of Microsoft's stock."

    If he's the first investor to speak up, investors must be pretty dumb. Microsoft have been coasting for the last ten years, if not longer. The rest of the world has now caught up and giving them a hard time.

  13. Gil Grissum
    Gates Horns

    Fruitcake for lunch?

    Balmer is a clueless fruitcake. His Long term strategy? Let's start with the disaster that was "Windows Millennium". Windows 2000 was fine, followed by Windows XP, which we had to live with until the disaster that was Vista in 2007. Windows 7 was what Vista should've been. Now what? Windows 8 on Arm? Where is the long term strategy for the smart phone and tablets? Too little/too late? Microsoft didn't like the Netbook market because everyone started buying them with XP on them, so they put a crippled Windows 7 on them to basically kill that market.

    And yes, investors generally only care about short term profits and stock price increases, but this investor (as well as others) are right about Balmer's leadership. The only thing he got right in his 11 years at the helm, is the X-Box 360. Is that even profitable yet? So now he wants to drop 8.5bn on an unprofitable web telco, under the assumption of making long term profits? From who? Skype isn't profitable with Microsoft in charge. Who really thinks they will be with Microsoft in charge, especially considering that Balmer will surely ruin Skype by re-branding it with some Microsoft branding (which will surely ruin the product).

    Balmer has got to go. He's failed and if he's permitted to do this Skype deal, that will prove to be his biggest failure to date.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Small correction here

      Microsoft didn't like the Netbook market because everyone started buying them with Linux so as a desperate measure they forced OEMs to ship them with deeply discounted Windows XP until they could come up with a crippled Windows 7 that could run on them so they basically killed that market.

      There, I did it for you!

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Last role of the dice"


    1. Levente Szileszky

      RE: "Last role of the dice"

      I didn't know Ballmer was such a fan of role-playing games...

      1. Allicorn

        Title schmitle

        I'm so confident of my phraseology, I'm putting it in giant breakout!

  15. IGnatius T Foobar

    keep Ballmer -- he is what Microsoft needs

    I say they keep Ballmer. Permanently. Why? I want Microsoft to fail, fail, fail. The world will be a better place with Microsoft out of the picture.

    1. Dave 15 Silver badge

      will it?

      It has its faults, but my PC worked out of the box, still works, catches an occasional 'cold' but the applications all work well.

      I tried 'linux' (won't say which flavour), first it didn't install as it was supposed to, then it couldn't cope with my graphics monitor - claimed the monitor which did a good high resolution graphics - couldn't do more than 80x25 text, when it finally did do something approximating to work it fell over about every 15 minutes and the applications were worse..

      If we had to rely on linux then computers would be the preserve of geeks and nutters (rather than just linux).

      There is a lot wrong with microsoft, its software is bloated, slow and getting worse, the security is appaling, but it is still pretty much the best around.

      1. Charles Manning

        I can assure you...

        The only reason your Windows installation was so seamless was because the vendor had done the job of packaging up all the drivers and configurations your particular PC needs.

        If you'd tried a "one size fits all" version of Windows you'd have had more grief than any Linux distro.

        I've installed Ubuntu on many different PCs and have personally only once had a "didn't install" problem due to a networking chipset that was new and didn't yet have a mainstream Linux driver. That was available a week later.

        1. tiggertaebo

          Not my experience

          "If you'd tried a "one size fits all" version of Windows you'd have had more grief than any Linux distro"

          Sorry but I'm not buying that.

          Over the years I've taken many different versions of Windows from 3.11 to 7 in "off the shelf" form and installed them on both generic and big-brand hardware and more often then not getting everything "just working" has been more painless then not. Conversely most of my installations of desktop flavours of Linux have been utter nightmares at getting some of the simplest things working (especially grahics and sound).

          Now these are just general trends - I've had configurations that have been utter pigs to get Windows just to boot on and I've had Linux installs that practically did themselves AND made me a cup of tea, and on the whole Linux has been getting alot better (and I applaud the hard work of the people that have been making that happen) but at this point in time if I wanted to take a PC (either branded or custom build) and pick the OS I thought was going to be easiest to get up and running then it would still be Windows every time. W7 in particular makes the experience very painless IME.

          (Mine's the one with the Windows 7 disc on the pocket)

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Bring back Mr. Clippy!

    That's what I'd do, if I were the big man at microsoft. Clippy.

    Mobiles? Nah, so yesterday, it aint' going nowhere

    Search? Pah, nobody searches anymore, yesterdays paper

    Tablets? Blegh, only tablets you need are for headaches.

    Clippy! - the cheerful little helper could make his online appearance - heck, put him in Bing, slap him in Skype, a little pop-up fella on your windows mobile, but for Gods sake, lets get him back in Office.

    Problem solved, Microsoft back at #1, the status quo as worlds nastiest company resumed and all the smelly-beard coke-bottle-glasses plaid-shirt caffine-swilling unix nerds can rejoice that thier nemesis is back in business.

    1. Andy Jones
      Thumb Up

      And the dog!

      Where is the dog? When I go to search in Windows 7 that stupid little dog doesn't bounce towards me anymore. Bring him back as well. In fact, make it a rottweiller or a pitbull.

      1. hplasm

        The dog for CEO!

        At least the dog seems to know what it's doing.

  17. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge


    "Stability is always the better environment for a company; steady income, steady expenses and as such a steady profit"

    Assuming you are in an industry that is stable, where nothing changes and it's very difficult for new companies to startup or for overseas companies to compete - like say making stone circles.

    Remember a big computer company that knew about stable steady sales of mainframes - so didn't mind that some little startup in Redmond writing the operating system for some silly little desktop toy?

  18. Levente Szileszky

    Ballmer should've benn ousted LOOOONG time ago...

    ...there's no question about it in anyone's mind who follows MS - Ballmer seems to be enthusiastic but pretty obviously clueless about technology, I don't even understand how this beancounter kept his post this long, regardless of being #2 or #3 stockholder. His image is also badly tainted, he seems to be an impulsive, arrogant fat beancounter, with anger management problems. But this is his personal problem, it could be fixed.

    What cannot be fixed with him at the helm is that corrosive, destructive, stifling bureaucratic culture inside MS which, according to most ex-MS folks, is largely the result of Ballmer's practices; this is, I must add, how MS became a total wasteland for anything new, creative, even if it's coming from outside (look up all the acquisitions, they pretty much drove everything into the ground, from business software vendors to services, even game studios.)

    Heck, even partnering with Microsoft means the kiss of death nowadays, Microsoft's (Ballmer's?) anti-midas touch turns even gold into shit, that's the sad reality.

    Top dogs at MS always recognize this, sooner or later, it's not an accident MS pretty much lost everybody from the top echelon in the past 6-8 years. They all knew it's stalling and only the question of time when it starts going down.

    There wasn't a single invention from Microsoft I can name in the past 6-8 years and everything they released was a pile of oozing crap, full of bugs. Their modus operandi is always to throw even more money and people at these half-baked releases so eventually it becomes a half-decent product...

    ...if you have the patience to wait and you are smart enough not to deploy it in production.

    Great, huh? It's not a business model that slowly kills everything. Make no mistake, it is the direct result of this Ballmerian giant, chaotic organization, full of incompetent managers who manage more managers etc.

    Microsoft badly needs fresh blood but someone who actually knows technology and has the balls to radically reorganize this 1000-headed beast, fire failing managers instead of bumping them up to even bigger roles, recognize how miserable MS' returns on its ballooning R&D costs etc etc.

    We need competition on the long run and the sad fact is outside of server OS Microsoft is not a competitor at all today and even its "me too" attempts are pathetic.

    I don't know enough from the outside but I'm still hopeful that someone - only from outside, I think - will come in and be able to reform MS. I really hate their attitude and lousy QA etc but the downright creepy Jobsian world of Apple makes me cringe, Google has little clue how to serve enterprise customers and has no server products...

  19. Rombizio

    That is funny....

    I always thought that Ballmer was not believable as a human being, let alone CEO. I have no clue how MS put him there. I wouldn't trust him even to wash my car....

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge


      You suddenly would have a rebranded car in fluffy blue-sky colors.

      Unfortunately, the wheels would be gone and you could drive backwards.

      Let's watch what happens to Skyprosoft.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Just one more on the list

    Lots of people, rich and poor, want to see the back of Ballmer. Many of them may even be MS shareholders. Unless this guy actually holds enough MS shares to be a real threat, this is not news, it is just one more name on the list.

  21. Don Mitchell

    Yes Please!

    I know a lot of Microsoft employees who agree, Balmer has been a disaster since the bumbling of the antitrust trial in the 1990s.

    Microsoft still has a lot of talent and some great technology (SQL Server, .NET CLR, the NT Kernel, Office, Xbox, etc), but it has become top heavy with unimaginative executives, with Balmer being the most obvious. What happened to the eBooks project in 2000? Why did they fumble the phone and pad markets when they had done a lot of fundamental research in those areas? They just failed to execute on new ideas, because their management was too afraid of risk.

    They might still have time to recover, because outside of Apple and Oracle, they don't have many high quality competators. Linux is still a kludging unstable mess that costs companies a fortune in maintanence. MySQL is still a third the speed of SQL Server and Oracle, and it doesn't scale up with parallel hardware very well. The software market is Microsoft's to lose, and Ballmer is the man to lose it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That's you usual FUD then

      "Linux is still a kludging unstable mess"

      Compared with Windows !!??

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      "Linux is still a kludging unstable mess"


      In other news, the recession is over, the war in Lybia is going well and you can have free sex with Miley Cyrus. Or something.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    "a lot of fundamental research in those areas"

    Look at the names on the Microsoft Research payroll. They may not be household names like Steve Jobs, but you'll have heard of some of them if you know anything about the history of software engineering.

    Then look at what they've produced while they've been on the MS payroll.

    It's not going to take long, because in general they've not produced much (exceptions apply).

    That's OK with Billco though, because they're not paying these folks to produce much for Billco.

    They're paying these folks to NOT PRODUCE ANYTHING FOR ANY OF THE COMPETITION.

    There can be no other explanation for it.

  23. Stephen Channell
    Jobs Horns

    Time to be bold

    Microsoft has built some really excellent technology {NT Kernel; CLR, SQL/Server, Excel} they took a big hit when the dashing swashbuckling foundered on the reality of the hostile/criminal phishing, viruses, fraud on the Internet, and an over aggressive response to Netscape. To Bill’s D'Artagnan, Steve is Porthos.

    When you look at the corpses of DEC, Digital Research (CP/M), Cullinet (IDMS); Microsoft has done well to survive.. but its done that my playing defence.. now’s the time to go on the offensive, and that (as in American Football) means a different team, and bolder strategy:

    • SQL Server could compete with Oracle/DB2 on Linux or BSD.. give customers the option and they’ll probably still choose windows

    • .NET CLR on other platforms.. won’t damage Windows, but will flank Oracle

    • Does NT server really need to be so similar to the desktop.. time to go back to the NT microkernel roots and make Hyper-V Server Core more like MVS

    • What about that CLR managed OS and other great ideas in the research labs

    1. Christian Berger

      @time to be bold

      There is a huge group of companies using and developing for Windows for which the similarity of the desktop and server OSes is key. Those companies switched from DOS to Windows 9x and 2000 and have never tried anything else. They don't know what tar is. They don't understand ssh and some of them don't even run TCP/IP on their networks.

      Those people choose Microsoft because it's the only thing they know.

      People use MS-SQL server because most software only support that single vendor, not because they have a choice. Just look at the web where people did have a choice.

  24. Giles Jones Gold badge

    Gates to blame

    I seriously thought this was Ballmer's stupid idea, but it turns out Bill Gates suggested it.

    If ebay couldn't integrate it into their site then Microsoft aren't going to be able to do much with it. They already have voice and video chatting with MSN messenger.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    "Microsoft has built some really excellent technology {NT Kernel"

    MS didn't build NT, they bought it (by effectively buying the team that started it when they were employees of DEC). NT was OK when it was NT3.x but it's got steadily more and more MSified as time has gone by. That's not building, that's demolishing. (NT wasn't really a microkernel either, but it was closer to one in NT 3.x than it is these days; Gates forced all kinds of stuff to go kernel space for "performance" reasons, thus sacrificing stability and security).

    Nor did Microsoft write MS-DOS, contrary to a claim in another thread in the last few hours.

    Just like Microsoft didn't really invent OLE (it's basically DEC's technology as used in Compound Document Architecture and LiveLinks, not that many people know or care).

    You'd be hard pushed to find a significant piece of software they did invent on their own.

  26. Michael Overton

    Less the CEO than the culture...

    If you look at the things people who were inside Microsoft during it's many failed phone/iPod/whatever mini-gadget is cool now debacles are saying it's clear that the biggest problems inside Microsoft is the corporate climate, rampant territorialism and crippling factionalism. It is true that the CEO sets the tone, but simply removing him won't change anything unless they shake up the leadership of all the departments and divisions, then re-organise them, too.

  27. Mr Floppy

    Gil and Steve

    Microsoft copies everything from apple. This resonates similarly to Apple and one Gilbert Frank Amelio.

    1. Levente Szileszky

      RE: Gil and Steve

      "Microsoft copies everything from apple. This resonates similarly to Apple and one Gilbert Frank Amelio."

      Oh PLEAHHHSE. Apple copied EVERYTHING from someone else, Apple has never invented a single thing, they always took existing things and technologies and further advanced them.

      Forget inventing things, as a matter of fact they barely even innovate things - that would be a first appearance en masse or in practice which is hardly the case with Apple.

      1. paulll


        Apparently the truth hurt that downvoter.

      2. Mr Floppy


        Not denying that Apple doesn't peek at someone else, just that Microsoft likes to peek over the shoulder of Apple. In so much as they are happy to copy Apple in finding a CEO is really crap at running the iconic company.

        In the case of Steve, I guess he wasn't just the Gil Amelio of MS. He's both Gil and Michael Spindler too.

        Some apologies to Gil though, he did do some good things with National Semiconductor.

  28. Alan Brown Silver badge

    Share prices...

    Aren't the whole story. Dividends count more for blue chip companies and like it or not, that's what Microsoft is these days.

    A stable share price is usually regarded as a good thing in a mature company - not something to criticise.

    (I can't believe I'm defending Ballmer...)

  29. James Pickett


    "I still wonder to this day, what Windows would look like if Microsoft had based the OS they developed for IBM on Xenix instead of QDOS."

    Or if IBM had given the job to Gary Kildall. Somewhere, in a parallel universe...

  30. Shagbag

    Faecal touch

    When you're a monopolist, it's pretty hard to increase market share but much easier to lose it. Maybe he should've given the 8.5bn back to the shareholders as a return of capital or special dividend or something. Buying a business with a long-term history of losses and 'waiting for a turn around' (if Skype's management can't do it, why would MS's be any better?) - is not a good way of creating shareholder value. It would be better to give the cash to them and let them go to the Casino.

  31. AB

    If only...

    ...he could have been happy drooling over Skype and left Nokia alone.

  32. dssf

    Maybe Tim Cook can do double duty?

    Wouldn't that be something if that analyst posited that idea, that Tim Cook be named as Ballmer's acting and possible actual replacement?

    Serious conflicts of interest might ensue, but look at ms branding. What "branding" is there? Innovative or not, no one can keep dry pants and loin when looking at the sheer presence of iPhones. i am not an Apple consumer by any measure (save for one case where I bought for someone an iPod touch... I thnk that is what it was...) of personal use. But, when I get on the train for commuting home and see on one transit rail system up to 8 iPhone-holding people just on ONE END of ONE train car, and this repeats on each end or varies from 4-8 iPhones (3, 3gs, 4) from car to car, it gets heady and crazy. Nokia cannot claim that anymore. Samsung might be close. HTC EVO 4Gs are creeping up there, but not like iPhones.

    Then, to get off of THAT train, and see it all over again, but with different faces, on another transit system, it gets way beyond heady. Just yesterday, I sat down and by the time I sat, which was about 6 minutes into my ride, I noticed a couple each with their own iPhone 4, sitting with their dog. Panned around. Three more people with iPhone 4. Some more 2 more. In less than 15 minutes, as people debarked, the view opened up. I saw the distinctive iPhone/iPod headphones. Surely they had to be iPhones. Sure enough, iPhone 3's and 4's. All told, I counted 12 visible iPhones on one HALF of a 2-car train. This plays out almost every workday of the week, over a sliding 2-hour window in my commute, in either direction. Almost always, these iPhones are within 10 feet of me on a rouglhy 40-foot car.

    if Steve Jobs, Tim Cook, and maybe 30 others in Apple could be cloned and grafted onto ms' DNA, and if ms mellowed out more and stopped trynig death-by-a-thousand-cuts on Open Source (yes, not all of OS is under attack by ms, but they try to slice the jugular when/where it matters), ms might take "saturation' to a whole new level. Actually, I'd PREFER to see clones of Apple grafted onto Open Source, but somehow be non-destructive to either Apple or ms, since they all need competition to keep them in line.

    About two weeks ago, I had counted 8 iPhones within 10 feet of me on the train. I saw two guys separately on their own iPhone 4's. I told them that I bet all that tracking has had some drunken-giddy effect on Apple and that they must "play with themselves" every night in excitement when they get the daily iPhone-on-Transit cluster reports. They smiled and one wryly laughed at my naughty references. But, one said, "That's why I bought them." He said he bought Apple stock the moment he heard about the iPhone product announcement. Years ago. I bet he is sitting pretty on a wad of cash and rounded out porfolio. Casually dressed, confident, well-groomed, and SEEMED like an exec or mid-to-upper-level type.

    1. Levente Szileszky

      RE: Maybe Tim Cook...

      Nice story, too bad it does not mean jack - and that's when I give you the benefit of the doubt and I believe it.

      The facts are actually showing Android to be waaaaay ahead of iPhones with its more than 350k new activations PER DAY. Ooops.

      FYI I see a lot more Android than iPhones here in NYC - iPhone is considered outdated and cerntainly boring and cheap (IIRC you can get it around $50 or so from AT&T); most of my iPhone-wielding friends have already converted to Android, rest is waiting for their contract to expire.

  33. Herby

    Uncle Fester does it again...

    Look, the Munsters got canceled after a few seasons, why not Ballmer (Uncle Fester!). At least they didn't throw chairs at 1313 Mockingbird place (as I remember it).

  34. Theloniousa

    An old f*rt

    What do you expect?!

  35. CyberCod

    To whomever replaces Ballmer

    May you embrace the spirit of competition. May you have ethics and a sense of fairness about you. May you be upfront and knowledgeable about your product and its strengths and weaknesses. May you have a strong sense of integrity. May you have patience and not resort to throwing furniture around and ruling your company through petty means like fear and despair. May you (please for the love of Pete) be above playing "dirty pool". May you abhor patent fights and actually care about customer needs above and beyond the bottom line. May you be a visionary. May you not try to win by cutting down the competition, but by out-thinking them, and out-developing them. May you, in short, be entirely unlike Ballmer.

    When you're running one of the largest and most successful companies in the world, it doesn't take a shark. It takes a true statesman.

    Give us a reason to love Microsoft, and we will love you too.

  36. thecakeis(not)alie

    $8.5 Billion to finally get rid of Ballmer.

    Cheap at twice the price.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    By this time next year ...

    He'll be gone. Or there is something *seriously* amiss.

    And as for the NT Kernel and SQL Server being great technology. Well, what can I say?

    MySQL does at least have interchangeable engines and if you're not happy with one you can swap it for another. Different horses for different courses. Besides, by default, in terms of pure fetch speed MySQL is faster than SQLServer. I see this day in day out on identical datasets.

    Its is hard to name ONE product that they did in fact write from the ground up and that wasn't an acquisition (OK maybe Word and Excel were in-house developments but were entirely based on the work of Charles Simonyi and the Bravo WP from Xerox PARC).

    They *are* afraid of change but that will get them nowhere in this day and age and will doom them to utter irrelevance. A shame because they had a lot of clever people at one time. Not so much now.

    They aren't going to vanish overnight, for sure, but they will just keep getting smaller and less important with tired old stuff that they keep reinventing not very well to the annoyance of a lot of their customers (big and small). Their business model is essentially static and outmoded. They also know this and are flailing about trying to get a toe-hold on the "next big thing". Not being great innovators this, not surprisingly, has always eluded them. Mainly due to their senior management.

    But if they could get rid of Steve (and a few others) it might enable them to reflect and reconsider on their raison d'etre in the 21st century.

  38. Levente Szileszky
    IT Angle

    Since nobody wants to say it...

    ...I'll do it:

    What the...

    That's it!

    Einhorn is Finkle! Finkle is Einhorn! Einhorn is a man!

    Oh, my GOD! EINHORN IS A MAN!!!


  39. Levente Szileszky


    Indeed, no good Ballmer thread can go without this evergreen:

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