Move over Tim
Now that he will have some time on his hands, how about hitting the gym to throw some weights about (or chairs for that matter), to slim down a bit and change the shirt to a black polo neck and heading off to Apple?
A tearful Steve Ballmer has admitted he was a big part of the problem at Microsoft – and that the company needs to rethink its management structure to succeed in the future. "At the end of the day, we need to break a pattern. Face it: I'm a pattern," company CEO Ballmer told The Wall Street Journal with apparent tears in his …
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That system was why I turned down an otherwise decent job offer from MS. It stank. Everyone was bell-curved at every organisational level, but it favoured louder people and game players - not good in a technology company where you need the quiet geeks. It encouraged the less technical to be disproportionately rewarded in a high tech company.
> it favoured louder people and game players
It favors psychopaths: people who lie and cheat, brown noses who go out of their way to backstab coworkers, who take credit for the work of others, and pass blame to underlings. I've seen it in action in a different company, and it generates a truly toxic work environment.
Sometime we stick around when we should have gone. It is not always easy to walk away from what you finally learned how to do.
But nobody can dispute that Steve Ballmer is a good man; or that he loved Microsoft. Indeed, for three decades he was Microsoft -- body and soul.
What exactly do you think he was 'good' at and perhaps more important, was it something that was also good for Microsoft and good for the rest of us? A decade of absolute stasis might be good in some sectors, it rarely is in IT.
Ballmer was certainly good at clinging onto his job despite serial failure and it's taken 2+ years of constant pressure to make him jump before being pushed. He is 100% correct about "Steve Ballmer has admitted he was a big part of the problem". At least when Gates was totally wrong he reacted quickly to catch up, Ballmer just reacted quickly to deny there was a problem.
Avanade, Xbox, Nokia acquisition, Ford partnership, set top boxes and buildout of Dynamics BU. Worst failures... Utter failure with Media integration with OS and content providers (cuz under Ballmer's watch the FTC issues started), Lack of policing of MDF and its partner network (nasty, decadent culture, except the likes of Avanade, but they are not immune. Remember Anderson Consulting?), the loss of the hearts and minds of developers, letting hobbyist and geeks (vs a more blended groups of John Q. Public and fashionistas) define, represent and control ver 3.0 of personal computing (either you get that right away or you dont, otherwise I cant explain this to you...) and finally has we all now know the gaming of the ranking system (pure cancer as so much manipulative mediocrity ran the place for the last decade...
one last thing is they should have given away an embedded os for a hardware device to make it a staple for every home. They had the right idea with home server but they failed as they made it hardware plus os. They should have just given away the os in an embedded hardware device. That would have sealed the infrastructure for content distribution, home computing, automation, security, entertainment and communications. It would have been the residential "bloomberg terminal" into what we know as the cloud today, and all other form factors of devices would just be low cost terminals with or without windows. Msft would have been the ubiquitous digital middle man with a beach head in the cloud and an inside advantage for end devices. but no. That did not happen. Make the windows server os as common place as hvac in a home, build a digital/virtual butler that does all your personal computing/digital lifestylr house keeping (security, data management, reputation protection, finances, entertainment planning, information fetching, etc) and then support a cottage industry of the build out of peripherals for assistive, educational and entertainment devices that integrate with the virtual butler that runs on this home device. This will be the personal hybrid cloud, where the device fetch's, aggregates, publishes and polices or interactions with both hour devices and the cloud. just a thought. Maybe i just need some sleep and/or a cigarette or maybe I just need some more time under are star (snicker, i meant our star or R*) tomorrow at the beach...
1. They tried to (almost) give it away. Windows XP embedded licensing cost pennies compared to the "first born" Microsoft charges for desktop. It could not be given out for free because of Microsoft being under "observation" for anticompetitive behaviour.
2. It was a failure. They _FAILED_ to strip it down to bare essentials so its "embedded" level ended up being a joke. Many times the footprint of embedded Linux (and Android).
3. They failed to port it in time to the fastest growing platform out there - ARM. Similarly, they let their existing Crippleware OS for embedded (Windows CE) fester, putrify and die.
So Linux and Android on top of it stepped in like the knights in shining armour and slayed the dragon (the dragon being the idea that you need a special hard real time OS for anything embedded). They showed that a general purpose OS with a best effort scheduler can be as good. It may cost more in terms of hardware. It pays back by reducing software development costs.
Microsoft failure in embedded is not due to lack of trying. It is due to an abject failure to execute. That however is something which is definitely a problem that goes all the way to the man in charge.
The end result - my new car stereo runs Android instead of running Windows Embedded. Game over.
Assuming the quotes are accurate, anyone who can admit that
(a) they're part of the problem and
(b) quit because they're part of the problem
has, in my opinion, more going for them than what I thought. He may be big, bald, and loud, but he seems to also be at the point where he can now be a little bit honest. At least now that he doesn't run one of I.T.'s most infamously unethical companies.
I agree. Furthermore I think that he himself has woken up to his biggest mistake. The stack-ranking shite. We can argue and debate until the cows come home over this or that aspect of Redmond's strategy in this or that area of their business but any and all mistakes/misteps/misfocusing (bla, bla, bla) arise fundamentally from a company's culture. That that culture proved to be peculiarly resistant to change is, IMHO, directly due to their continuing with that downright pernicious, not to say evil, system of evaluation. Yes, the good news is that they have at last got rid of it. The bad news is that it is something that they should have done a decade ago.
@Arctic fox: To my mind, the bad news is that anyone thought up such a shitty system in the first place, and that others thought enough of it to put it in place. Such a system only works for game-shows, not any enterprise that actually wants to achieve anything.
I can't help thinking that mobile is an extremely poor strategy for Microsoft - the market already has two dominant players and Microsoft are far too far behind to ever catch up. And they were never, ever going to be big in mobile - Microsoft's bloaty kitchen-sink programming strategy would always have prevented them from ruling mobile even if they'd started at the right time; Microsoft make software for PCs not because they want to target PCs, but because PCs are the only devices powerful enough to run their feature-rich applications at a usable speed.
Microsoft need to concentrate on business desktop - business desktop is NOT going away any time soon, and it's good money. Switching to an entirely business-to-business model is highly profitable for many firms wanting to recover from the doldrums - ask the resurgent IBM. Domestic users may be dumping PCs for tablets and Steam boxes, but businesses are not (they may be supporting tablets in *addition* to regular PCs, but regular PCs are *not* disappearing from offices). Frankly with the amount of piracy rampant in the home market I sincerely doubt Microsoft ever made much money from the domestic scene anyway.
Microsoft's cloud-based Office 365 is *incredibly* successful; I don't know anyone who's used it and doesn't love it. They just need to make the best desktop operating system too, and that means ditching the half-arsed mobile and touch interface that is the Start Screen. They need to research and write a new set of desktop windowing standards; Office 2013's interface is a mess - it makes sense in the browser in Office 365 but as a stand-alone application UI, it's horribly confusing. They need to revamp, reinvent standards such as the Multiple Document Interface, which was possibly the most intuitive and greatest contribution to desktop computing since Xerox Parc, and research and create new desktop UI standards.
Businesses are currently delaying and delaying upgrading to Windows 8(.1) and Office 2013 because the UI is designed for mobile and browser. No office worker who lives on the keyboard wants to use an interface designed for a touch-screen. Nobody has got desktop right at the moment - Apple are all over the place with their on-again-off-again love-hate affair with skeuomorphism, the Linux desktop is more fragmented now than it has ever been, and former Linux leader Ubuntu is making *exactly* the same kinds of "we'll integrate our UI to combine both mobile and desktop" mistakes that Microsoft are making. Microsoft are already doing well in business cloud; business desktop is ripe for the picking. Microsoft just have to reach out and grab it.
"Their options are to win mobile or die."
Considering that MS have been pouring money into mobile for at least 15 years, they are not doing well at all. They have been both ineffective AND damaging to the industry.
Those that say to give MS a chance forget that MS have been in the smartphone busiess twice as long as Apple or Google.
I really think that aince about 2001, Bllmer has had a complete Google obsession. Rather than put energy into winning customers he has, instead, been trying to beat up Google by buying "verbs", Bing, Kin phone, etc.
I have to disagree, mobile has a lot going for it, a massive user base, relatively short hardware refresh cycle, users have very little sunk costs in existing platforms, and new hardware only needs mostly open standards except where the standard is Microsoft's own (eg: exchange).
Mobile is an area where the two dominant players both had zero marketshare six years ago, it's the category thats rapidly consigning the desktop market to a niche role, If MS ignore mobile computing they're dead.
Charge for Windows 8 which PC makers and their customers don't want on their non touch desktops.
Charge an annual subscription for the only serious product they have left Office 365.
Charge over the odds for low spec PC hardware dressed up as a next gen console.
Was that what his parting shot meant?
Hope they don't find a replacement who is sensible and boring like BG, they just might do what they intended instead....
Bye bye Monkey Boy life won't be nearly as amusing once you are gone.
The whole computing industry thanks you for destroying microsoft.
August last year isn't too late to get into mobile. In the first edition of Bill Gates 1994 Road Ahead book, the word "internet" appeared twice. With such visionary leadership - including your own iPhone predictions - it is a puzzle why Microsoft bombed so hard.
Anyway, now youv'e finally heard of mobile and the guy you sent to rape Nokia is back home, you can get him to use the $2bn a year you extort from Android to come up with something people might notice.
Phones aren't the only area that Microsoft was heavily involved with before someone else did a better job and ran with it, tablets were just as big an Apple success and Microsoft failure though MS was there pushing the form factor first. I used several of them as Blue Force trackers, and they were terrible. If you were looking at one of them now I'd bet you that 4th Infantry Division is probably still sitting in the desert not moving, if you could get the battery to last long enough to refresh anyway.
Funny how it always seems to be those two companies though.
Both Apple and Microsoft fell on their arses, but there the similarity ends.
Apple stood up, learned from their mistakes and went forward to make some outstanding products.
MS, OTOH, still produces WinCE -based "phone operating systems" based on 15-year old tech. They crapped their nappies and are getting a nice warm feeling from sitting in their own excrement.
'where the students sang a Coldplay song with the lyrics "It's such a shame for us to part; nobody said it was easy; no one ever said it would be this hard." The news moved the entire family to tears, Ballmer reports.'
Internet says LOL.
Dude - you killed the PC.
Apple and Google didn't help. But you turned a viable legacy business with some prospects for continuing innovation into a historical joke on the level of the Edsel, New Coke, and Sarah Palin.
Who cares if Big Man Cries? I don't, and nor do most of your former customers.
He inherited the helm at Microsoft's natural peak. That it hasn't tanked faster is a testament to some degree of competence. Sure there were problems - any company that big is going to have (stack ranking, Win8, mobile lethargy). X-Box, HyperV, Dynamics suite, Azure are all credible products.
The issues they face are
- old guard mindset ('Windows' at the core of everything) plus bad culture - stack ranking being a particular example.
- new kinds of toy destroying the old order. High margin Apple shiny for idiots, and low margin, paid for by advertising products from Google.
"That it hasn't tanked faster is a testament" is a testament to their monopoly control of so much of the IT world. It only visibly started failing when the market moved out from under them, while Ballmer ignored that shift. That's not competence, he somehow managed to piss away a position of overwhelming strength through complacency.
PanAm... There is a voice from the past. The only good flight I ever had on them was from Miami to London the night that the Dolphins played in their first Superbowl. There were just about equal numbers of crew and passengers.
At least there was a choice of Airlines (still is on many routes) not so with mainstream PC Operating Systems (by this I mean ones used by the average punter, not the geeks)
For them it is Windows or nothing. Especially those who had to suffer ICT at school which were basically classes in Word/Excel and worst of all Powerpoint.
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THIEF. No two ways about it this man created and kept feeding disgusting patent trolls and dragged very good companies through the courts simply because they dared to make a decent product. This man, the company is completely vile as vile as Apple are. Get lost Ballsup you will not be missed and I for one am glad technology can moved full speed ahead now mr paranoid has gone and we cant get dragged back 10 years simply because it is against $Microsofts$ pocket. Roll on
Greekcapitalistic tragedy in 1 act
Billionaire CEO cultivates a brash and unsophisticated image, earning everybody's scorn and ridicule.
Years pass, the company appears to stagnate somewhat, the share price stagnates.
Billionaire CEO then announces resignation with tears.
The share price climbs sharply, predictably (which is what being a CEO is all about).
Billionaire CEO, who is a major shareholder of the company, makes huge profits as a result of the manoeuvre, so do all the other shareholders.
Billionaire CEO cries and says he is a "fat, bald buffoon" and he was "forced out".
Then he laughs all the way to the bank.
Balmer is America. He embodies the dominant cultural forces.
It is easy to run a company when one has a monopoly. One just has to have the best legal team available to skirt the rules and minimize the penalties for overstepping the boundaries. Bush had Colin Powell.
But in a more competitive environment, the alpha male comes under attack and one realizes the alpha male was never that strong to begin with, just intimidating.
The faces of this new gilded age look more like a Benetton ad.
> he had been trying to make Microsoft change its business strategy to focus on the cloud and mobile, rather than its desktop roots, since October last year
It's the purest bullshit that Microsoft didn't switch focus from PC to mobile devices before October last year. The strategy goes back at least three years. Windows 8 is the bastard child of it.
Ballmer was the wrong CEO for the wrong time. Ballmer did a moderately good job, but he stayed to long and made some huge mistakes. When Apple came out with the tablet it should have been a signal for a immediate response from MS. MS waited to long to come out with a tablet and it will be difficult if not impossible to turn the tide. These days I rarely ever seeing anyone using a Surface tablet except at a MS event or UG. In typical MS fashion MS ignored their customers and came out win8 and awful Metro interface. Much of the problem is that MS switched to a closed internal beta process whereby only a small portion of the company beta tested Win8 and 8.1. Even their Technology Evangelists did not have access to the final version until a few weeks before the win 8.1 was launched. So now MS is left with win 8.1 which many people still hate the interface.
In the Ballmer simply stayed to long. 13 years is a long time for any CEO. It will be interesting to see what happens with a new CEO. I am not convinced that Alan Mulally is the right choice. My own feeling is that MS needs a leader that has a good IT background. One can argue that Gerstner did not understand technology but he was unique.
Ballmer was a ruthless competitor. It is possible that he just got caught up in the 'game' without realizing that what was a game to him was very real to others.
Like him or not, Ballmer has some impressive skills and he has massive resources. It is a long-shot, but if he set out to do some real good in the world, he could make a huge difference.
People like Ballmer surely manifest as evil in practice for at least certain values of 'evil'. However, if he is not internally evil, there is always some hope he may take a turn for the best and use his powers for good.
I am not a fan, but I wish him luck anyway.
"there is always some hope he may take a turn for the best and use his powers for good."
Ummmm ... that's a bit like hoping that J.P. Morgan/Chase, after being hammered with multi-billions in fines for avaricious greed and thievery, will experience a sudden epiphany and dedicate themselves to funding the solutions to global poverty and disease.
If I inherited a company with 90 odd % desktop share with ultra billions in the bank, paid off judges, policticians even governments i bet i could have kept the bandwagon rolling too. Ballsup wasnt a great CEO by a long shot, it was Gates' (thieving) legacy that kept that ball rolling for years not Ballsup
What Ballmer is doing here is some sort of falling-on-the-sword act which really costs him little He has so much stock that any up-tick he can generate will make him a boat load of money.
But Ballmer is not "the problem", he is only the SYMPTOM of "the problem". Shooting the chief clown doesn't stop the circus from being a circus.
The problem is the set of forces in Microsoft that allowed them to install people like Ballmer. Mostly, it comes down to two things:
1) Supreme arrogance. We're Microsoft so we know what's best for you.
2) Such shockingly largeincome from some business units at they can execute really badly in other areas without market forces coming into play. They've been able to run huge losses trying to prop up their dabblings with mobile for 12+ year. In that time they have damaged/destroyed many companies with some pretty good ideas by drowning them.
Pity really. From all that amazing potential, you'd hope the world would have gained more.
Surprised that Ballmer has owned up to being a git.
He always reminded me of Henry Ford and his grandson Henry Ford II.
Old Henry was known for firing someone by discharging a revolver into the ceiling of an office below.
Young Henry came up with "Don't Complain, Don't Explain" which must have made working for him a nerve wracking experience. His greatest piece of ebullience (perhaps glorious folly) was to try to buy Ferrari and, when spurned, build the glorious GT40 models that ultimately trounced Enzo at Le Mans.
Makes Ballmer and his silly software seem pretty small beer.
This arrogant clown has been nothing but trouble at MS and despite his rediculous ",,,blubbering,,,"
is merrily prancing away with tens of millions of dollars in bonus money along with having collected
an obscene salary for years from a company he's done everything except put a bullet through its head.
"But the rate of change wasn't fast enough"
Nono the problem is you're doing this at all. Sure it's legitimate to have "cloud" as part of your business; as with Amazon. The idea that Microsoft should be basing its entire corporate structure on a marketing term is the definition of insanity.
Sorry, I don't get it. Seriously, none of you even know this guy. So, how is it that you all *know* he is dumb, and is THE problem with Microsoft. OK, they haven't owned the market with tablets and phones, (yet) but it takes a considerable push to change a paradigm. That, and do you think the XBOX is a failure? That happened on Ballmer's watch. ..and the advance to windows 7. I believe even 8/8.1 is great OS. They are 35 in the fortune 500 right now, but that isn't so bad considering the income and patents they still command. I for one wish him well, because I don't think he did any worse a job than Bill did in his last years, and not only that, he still had Bill for guidence. So, it is not like he has come to the place were he is at by himself. Other people on the MS board should probably be sharing responsibility and stepping down with him if they feel things are that bad. Also, you might be using Andriod or MacOS or iOS at home, but most of you, if not all, still need Windows and Office in order to do your job. The day people stop loading bootcamp on there Macs to make them functional I'll concede that Microsoft is done as a company.
Regarding the comments about ARM and embedded windows. i agree with your point about ARM, and your point re CE. ironically the de evolution of the ARM (brilliant!) chip and OS to keep it simple is the genesis of ARM's success. The power (or power consumption) and complexity of cisc and all the layers of stuff in the os did thwart the adoption, deployment and development of the windows brand on mobile and tablets. But I don't whole heartedly agree that "there can be only one.." (aka android or ios. Arm or intel), though that makes for interesting religious debate and a great one liner for some good sci fi sword fights to the death. The world (universe if you believe in astrophysics) is pluralistic and there is room for many at the table. The same should be true for OSs, but whittle that down to a few (e.g. Ios, android and others, including windows mobile) and you have a more realistic, believable and tolerant view of the balance of the world of computing.
The belief that there is just one chip, one OS, one UI and one programming language is cyclopitic. and maybe that is the crux of the problem. Microsoft's leadership became cycloptic and all other msft leadership became sheep. There were a few Odysseus like players, but ultimate they were cast adrift to sea (someone else mentioned the greek drama so I am just jumping on that same ship) and are probably still adrift and somewhat traumatized by the decade long illiad saga of reporting to Agamemnon (was the cyclops a metaphor for agamemmon's/Greece's obsessions re troy? hmm. Should have paid attention in school...) Oh and on that front let's hope Ballmer's home life does not take a turn for the worse also as then this really would be a greek drama. And please don't take any of this part seriously I am just being silly and trying to parody this part of the topic and make it a bit less histrionic.
Re all the nasty hate speech about ballmer, wtf man? If he is such an easy target and culpable, why be so nasty and throw stones? I thought the uk was showing real foresight and leadership re clipping the wings of internet bullies and trolls and then this.... Yikes how uncivilized for a culture that had the foresight and humanity to employee more people who SAVE lives (NHS) vs on industries that take lives (military industrial complex and "defense") than any other country (relative scale). Chill haters, and drop the vitriol. Be more elegant and civilized in your dissent as if you think about it, you already won... Why disgrace the warriors vanquished legacy? Bad form and bad karma... And that is yet another greek lesson for ya...
Regarding Windows mobile and Windows 8, I dont entirely agree with what others here say about the windows 8 UI and windows mobile. The new UI is not all that bad nor a failure. The integration of pointer and touch is actually very clever and accommodating. It is technology OCM built into the UI. Like a ui on the ui. Like windows into applications, but more accurately a UI into a UI. And I dare to say the synthesis of pointer, gesture, touch and speech is actually quite brilliant, though complex.
Re execution, I think it is less about technology and more about culture. So i totally agree with that position, though the culture is a classic split brain between product dev (good) and sales (bad, ir kinda evil, if you use the webster's definition evil vs oxford's definition. The latter is to religion centric). anyway... Really. Who cares and since we are all geeks who are obviously invested in both this industry and technology. Let focus on a more important topics... How can we start to have fun with this and make some money. or even better, do good and not be evil? There is no joy in being nasty so how can folks benefit from this? Including msft employees, share holders and partners plus customers? Or is it all doom, gloom and apocalyptic revelations?
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