back to article Ballmer can exhale: Bill Gates rules out Microsoft return

Bill Gates won't be coming back to Microsoft to retake the reins from embattled CEO Steve Ballmer – so says none other than Bill Gates himself. "I've made the transistion to work full-time on the [Bill & Melinda Gates] Foundation," Gates told an interviewer from The Sydney Morning Herald, "and that'll be what I do for the rest …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    How is being a better philanthropist than software developer a criticism? I think it's better to be remembered for the good one did rather than creating a shinier phone on which to view "content".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The thing with throwing big money at things is it has unintended consequences.

      Examples are on the wiki page:

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Ahhh the wiki wonder...

        shame some of the criticisms are actually very flawed.

        They complain that high profile causes divert funds away from local health issues due to better salaries paid to the specialist teams (remind me how this is different to any other profession in most other countires)

        Well blow me, how dare they a) try and help sort out two of Africas biggest killers (Malaria and AIDS) rather than sort out an ingrowing tonails b) improve the salaries of the top doctors and research people.

        This is not to far off how Small Pox was erradicated, with targeted attacks; so when an outbreak occured, all resources were targeted within that area, to the detrement of other issues. When you are trying to vacinate / help several thousand people in a limited time, you don't have the resources to piss about treating other ailments, no matter how big they may seem.

        To be honest the would is full of arseholes who would rather maon about what people are not doing (just look at the responses to the Google charity pledge) than what they are doing.

    2. Ilgaz

      Different people

      Bill Gates comes from a very rich and prestigious family. Steve jobs and Ellison are coming from nowhere. There will be a difference. Not siding with anyone. People who made their fortune may have different views about poor.

  2. Matthew Anderson

    One day they will both be dead and written into history. A Hollywood movie made, several books and yet more movies.

    I thought this story was about Bill not going back to MS? Seems to have degenerated into the Bill n Steve saga.

    If we are to have a movie, can we have one with them smoking a bong together then several scenes later fighting over the aesthetics of different types of coffee? :-) (fair trade of course)

    1. Ilgaz

      It has been done

      Watch pirates of silicon valley TV movie.

  3. b166er

    Sometimes I just don't get the downvotes?!

    (unless you're upset that Dollar Bill won't be returning to Microsoft full-time?)

    I guess some people just refuse to believe that metaphorical leopards have the right or ability to change their spots.

    How limiting.

    (not that I personally think Bill Gates has any spots to change)

    1. Ilgaz

      Bill needs to come back or fire him

      A changed Microsoft living the magical, visionary shift IBM did in 90s is good for everyone including Oss.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Dear Bill

    Im not going to sit here with my head up my arse saying your software is perfect, its not, although Win 7 is pretty damn good, an i quite like WP7 too....oh wait a sec...

    but anyway, your company regardless of how it got there is getting one royal shafting after another largly because a lack of direction from the top, or better put, lack of PERCIEVED direction, there isnt any point doing anything if the perception is that you sitting with your thumbs up your arse.

    i admire what you are doing in your personal time but seriously, that guy needs to go, your a significant share holder Bill, so unless steve has found some "bad" porn on your laptop, you need to grow some balls and get someone else to start improving your companies Image

    Perception or Image are everything an right now yours [Microsofts] sucks

    Happy xmas!

  5. Charles Manning

    Don't believe a rumour...

    ... until it has been denied in the media. Given a chance, most shareholders would welcome back Gates in an instant.

    BillG still has his head up his wossname. He says that Microsoft machines outsold Apple. Not really. MS sold no PCs. The only MS machine that has sold well is the XBox. Others sank like rocks.

    1. crashtest

      Microsoft machines sold by ms...? how old are you?

      A few years back, before apple embraced intel processors, there was a clear divide between mac and everything else running one of plenty Microsoft OS. MacOS would run only on power pc processors and windows only on x86.

      Since no computer is properly functional without an OS, you can split the whole ecosystem into apple and microsoft machines. Especially considering that back then Linux was still "getting there" and unix was in the major decline.

      Also consider that since the late 80s and even today it has been virtually impossible to buy any [non-apple] preassembled computer without an MS OS installed.

      So yes, anything being sold with an MS OS can be named a microsoft machine, and they did did outsell apple ones by a landslide.

    2. Levente Szileszky

      RE: Don't believe...

      ...every stupid comment some idiot makes on the internet eg

      "BillG still has his head up his wossname. He says that Microsoft machines outsold Apple. Not really. MS sold no PCs. The only MS machine that has sold well is the XBox. Others sank like rocks."

      Good God, how old are you, 14?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    MS and Apple

    MS and Apple, Jobs and Gates had an odd relationship. On the one hand Jobs in particular would slag off Gates, but MS were about the only software company to take the Mac seriously in the beginning which really helped it. MS Office for Mac was and is an essential install for most offices where Macs are used. Jobs himself said words to the effect of MS vs Apple isn't a zero sum game - they can both do well without having to destroy the other.

    There are many more examples, but those are the ones that spring to mind.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Indeed, was it the '97 Apple expo, Jobs went on stage and video conferenced with Gates?

      Much booing and gnashing of teeth, but Jobs admitted that Apple needs MS. Thus, Office 98 and X soon after and IE for Mac.

      The transition to x86 hardware in recent years also did wonders to Microsofts sales figures.

    2. Ilgaz

      It was before immature, childish Microsoft.

      Todays Microsoft can't even ship messenger for android, they outsource it to a third party. Think about it. "you don't play with my new toy so I don't give you the one you like, get its fake version from neighbour kid!"

  7. admiraljkb
    Paris Hilton

    Gates is doing a LOT of good right now in the world I admire him greatly. Although, toppling Ballmer and resuming the role of chief geek would go a long way towards helping MS find their way out of the wilderness that Ballmer's directed them into.

    icon - cuz why not?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    meh isn't required

    Good for Gates.

    Always amused me that microsoft in the past had been portrayed as 'evil' - which has now completely faded away on the back of the success of Apple & Google.

    Guess people always need a straw man - or in this case, a straw 800lb gorilla in the room.

    It's the British way - knock success and try to belittle it, "how dare you demonstrate brilliance and flaunt it"

    How sad...

  9. Frumious Bandersnatch


    It's "take the *reins*".

    You know, from the field of equasy(*)?

    * Not a real word, I know

  10. Michael Friesen

    Maybe it could be a good thing...

    There are suggestions on the Gates Foundation website that some good research is happening. Rather than merely advocating single-vector solutions, some of the sponsored research SEEMS to point to solutions that show an awareness of complex ecosystems.

    That is a pointed contrast to Microsoft's "monoculture" approach that caused such damage to the intellectual/creative technology environment over the past 15 years. I know, if you're a member of the collective, you'll say that it was all good because your species prospered. What you're missing is that the ecosystem itself was miniscule compared to how big it COULD have been if it hadn't been so wholly dependent upon a single (inevitably limited) cognitive infrastructure.

    So the appearance of ecosystem-aware thinking in Gates Foundation projects COULD spell very good things for Gates' return to the helm at Microsoft. If he were to start thinking of the overall information/cognitive landscape (Raymond would call it the "noosphere") rather than solely his part of it, then Microsoft could evolve some extremely interesting products and actually begin to contribute to the growth of the whole ecosystem.

    1. gribbler

      Microsoft's damaging monoculture?

      What kind of idiotic anti-MS bullshit is this? MS traditionally made operating systems. They helped to make computers cheap and widely available and didn't limit in any way what software people could run on the platform or what they could do with it after they had purchased it. Please explain how this damaged creativity?

  11. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    In case you still have not Realised IT, Ponder the Core Tenet of Successful Virtual Operations

    Re the Bootnote ....... "While Bill Gates says he'll devote "all of my energy" to philanthropy, Steve Jobs' biographer Isaacson reportedly told a San Francisco gathering on Wednesday that one topic he was not allowed to discuss with the late Apple cofounder was what would become of his fortune after he was no longer around to enjoy it." ...... the System has that taken care of, for it is the System which provides for all opportunities and delivers all bounties.

  12. Mikel

    Microsoft is still evil

    Steve's just not as good at being evil as Bill was. Bill did evil _well_. Steve's more of a Batman villain kind of evil: dire in intent and completely incompetent at execution.

    Anyway, Steve's doing the job Bill wants him to do - holding the company still while he sucks the rest of his money out to fund his new philanthropy game. At the end the company will be a dry hulk of course.

    And I'm OK with that.

    Throwing Jobs in here is a bit of a red herring. Some people keep their charity private, and I can respect that.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    It is not as though Ballmer has had that bad of reign at Microsoft. They did make $18.8 billion in profit (not sales, profit) last year. The last few versions of Windows were lackluster, but they still sold. No one was going to be able to hold on to Microsoft's performance over the 1990s and early 2000s (near monopoly dominance) forever... which is a good thing.

    I agree though. Apple makes better computers than Wintel, which is embarrassing for Microsoft, but they are blushing all the way to the bank.

  14. Gil Grissum

    Great. Gates was Microsoft's chance to recover. With Balmer at the reigns, they are doomed. I moved on to a Macbook Pro. While my Windows Desktop is crashing, my Macbook Pro is not. Guess I'll be using the PC mostly for games. WAY TO GO GATES!!! Maybe we'll get lucky and the board will oust Balmer anyway.

    1. Mikel


      @Gil Grissum: Bill Gates is the Chairman of the Board at Microsoft. He's the Boss. The other members of the Board are hand-picked by him. Steve Ballmer is Bill's guy, his college roomie, a guy that can be trusted to do what you tell him enjoying far more success than he might have hoped for in his wildest dreams. Steve knows Bill's goals are his bread and butter. A wise guy like Bill keeps predictable fools in reserve. The board is not going to oust Steve Ballmer until Bill Gates tells them to, and that ain't gonna happen as long as Steve delivers what Bill wants, and Steve's perfectly on target.

      Steve Ballmer's not doing what YOU want him to do - but you're not the boss of him. Bill Gates has found a way to own less than 1 percent of a publicly held corporation, nor show up every day, and yet control it utterly. He started these lessons in 1984, and being the brilliant guy he is has mastered them.

      There are lots of voracious competitors in Microsoft, Sinofsky chief among them. How Sinofsky has failed to figure this out I don't know, since he's also brilliant. None of them are going to win the top spot because they're not the predictable committed fool. As soon as they figure this out, they're outta there, because they're voracious competitors and need to win to have internal validation.

      Steve is doing the job Bill gave him, and he's doing well at it or he'd be long gone because Bill Gates considers personal loyalty a weakness. Now if you're an investor or a consumer and aren't happy about what Steve is doing, you know what to do about that. But Bill doesn't care because Steve's going to help him get the maximum money out. That means that the pathologically competitive Bill Gates is going to max the all-time "giver" score in the game he's now (and some would say since 1987) playing in.

      Modern pundits and analysts are really lost about what Bill Gates' strategy is because it predates the rise of Google and the Internet. But he was alway crystal clear: he understands that incredible, unspendable wealth is a burden his children should not bear. He's a brilliant competitive ass, and having wonthe IT game and become bored with it he moves to another. Having won the computer game before his 26th birthday it's natural that he should search about for a new challenge to keep him occupied until he reach his dotage. That he counts coup on competitors after telling them what his strategy is is just gravy. There's no reason why he should not use his victory over IT to give advantage in the next game. To give up earned advantages is plain stupid.

      I'd give that he's won the "giver" game now too, as his program to cajole the world's billionaires has leveraged his own personal wealth dozens of times, to the point where it pledged wealth exceeds the US national debt in the year Microsoft was founded. He's playing a bigger game now than Microsoft ever was, nor ever could hope to be. At least it doesn't have the prevention-of-progress taint of his previous game. This new game has no top end, no true victory because the goal isn't to be the biggest giver ever. It's to raise the best giver bar so high that nobody else in subsequent history can get over it. No matter how much wealth and effort is poured into it, there is always more to it. It's the global philanthropist version of a Zynga game, and good to occupy him until the end of his days.

      Microsoft has to die for Bill Gates to rise from its shadow and be recognized for the great giver that he is without the taint of its dire methods which, if it were killed, will be lost to time. The process of killing Microsoft is under way, and Steve Ballmer is the chief assassin whether he knows it or not. Sometimes - rarely - you have a job that only a fool can do.

      The only fly in this ointment is if Steve Ballmer should find out about Bill Gates' contempt for him, his intellectual deficiency, his religious faith in The Bill, and then be able and willing to figure out how to counter it before Bill kicked him out rather than accept it's good money for a guy like him - which seems unlikely in the extreme. Which, if you think about it, is the right way to choose your henchmen if you're an evil genius.

      In my opinion they'll ride this horse all the way down to the end, and frankly it's taking longer than they would like.

  15. Spud2go


    But does he know to breathe in afterwards?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Perhaps someone should have held his nose while he was still holding his breath, then he might have passed out and done us all a favour!

  16. philbo
    Black Helicopters

    Has anyone noticed the similarity between...

    ..Steve Ballmer (, and Tony "Iron Man" Stark's evil nº2 Obadiah Stane (

  17. DJV Silver badge

    Ballmer can exhale

    Trouble is, when he does, lots of chairs go flying!

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