back to article Satya Nadella is 'a sheep, a follower' says ex-Microsoft exec

Dan Lyons, the writer behind Fake Steve Jobs, has found someone willing to bucket incoming Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. That someone is Joachim Kempin, who was general manager of Microsoft Germany in the subsidiary's early days and rose to become a senior veep in charge of Microsoft's OEM business. Kempin has form criticising …


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  1. Arctic fox

    Useful criticism?

    Useful, i.e. constructive criticism, is not usually couched in the form of personal abuse. Whatever Nadella's merits or demerits may be (and I am not in a position to have a worthwhile opinion on them) Kempin's approach sounds like the settling of old scores.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Useful criticism?

      Don't see any personal abuse either in the Reg piece or the linked article, just an opinion as to the guys qualities.

      Must be a sign of the times, any criticism that isn't couched in touchy feely everyone's a winner language is abuse.

      1. frank ly

        @notauser Re: Useful criticism?

        The comment about 'sheep ... who can't spell consumer or product' is harsh criticism, moving into insult. However, your second paragraph is spot on, as can be seen from all the company notices that follow a parting of the ways when a high level manager or executive leaves a company.

      2. Azzras

        Re: Useful criticism?

        You couldn't see abuse if it bit you on the nose.

        If it wasn't for spell check, you'd be lost.

        You're an iSheep.

        (Does any of that seem constructive or does it feel more like a personal attack to you?)

        1. Pookietoo

          Re: Does any of that seem constructive

          That depends on whether it's true or not.

      3. Uncle Siggy

        Re: Useful criticism?

        "Must be a sign of the times, any criticism that isn't couched in touchy feely everyone's a winner language is abuse."

        This remark is doubleplusgood.

  2. Mikel


    You can't please all of the people ever. Let the guy do something before we make fun of him. There will be plenty of opportunity for that soon enough.

    1. Fatman

      Re: Meh

      Let the guy do fuck up something before we make fun of him.


      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Meh

        Agree. Won't be long with Gates nipping.

  3. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    “can neither spell CONSUMER nor DEVICE”

    Well if we are going to be picky, I'd note that even in the IT dialect of English (which is found of verbing), "device" certainly isn't a verb and I'd hate to imagine what devicing a consumer might entail so I'm glad the new chap is unable to.

    What he meant was "can spell neither consumer nor device".

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: “can neither spell CONSUMER nor DEVICE”

      Whilst this was probably meant as an insult, I think many might actually take this as a compliment!

      As many have observed MS desperately needs to keep its enterprise and business customers on-board. Particularly, given the move of things move into the cloud and the changing end user device landscape.

    2. RussellMcIver

      Re: “can neither spell CONSUMER nor DEVICE”

      Well if I was going to be picky I'd suggest that whilst users of the English language within the IT sector are possibly FOND of verbing, I wouldn't say they were FOUND of it.

      1. The Man Himself Silver badge

        Re: “can neither spell CONSUMER nor DEVICE”

        "Well if I was going to be picky I'd suggest that whilst users of the English language within the IT sector are possibly FOND of verbing, I wouldn't say they were FOUND of it."

        I find the use of "verb" as a verb horribly recursive and jarring...I am not fond of it (or, for that matter, found of it).

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: “can neither spell CONSUMER nor DEVICE”

          I find the use of "verb" as a verb horribly recursive and jarring

          That's rather the point (though "horribly" is, of course, subjective; as a shibboleth I have to say this one ranks quite far down on my list).

          The use of "verb" as a verb in this sense was popularized by Bill Watterson in a famous Calvin and Hobbes strip. In the final panel, Calvin declares "Verbing weirds language", and Hobbes replies "Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding". The text and tone of the strip clearly1 imply that such usage is intended2 to be jarring ("weird").

          Of course, Hobbes' objection in the strip isn't terribly persuasive either, since there's no evidence to suggest that English speakers are significantly confused by part-of-speech shifts, finding such neologistic usage perfectly cromulent.3

          1Under the obvious, straightforward reading; counterinterpretations are left as an exercise for the reader.

          2The myriad problems of intentionalist readings notwithstanding, we can speak of the intent of a rhetorical trope such as part-of-speech shifting without prejudicing the interpretive act or implying a privileged interpretation; rhetorical evaluation still leaves us plenty of interpretive margin thanks to uptake, etc.

          3... he wrote, to forestall the otherwise-inevitable follow-up post by one of the local wags.

      2. aqk

        Re: “can neither spell CONSUMER nor DEVICE”

        Perhaps that's because his spelling has been fond wanting.

  4. Fihart

    Confirms my understanding from earlier articles that the new man is expected to execute the game plan left by Ballmer.

    If so, can we really expect any changes to the rot that set in with Ballmer. And if Nadella comes from the server end of the company is he likely to understand what consumers want, that Microsoft has so consistently failed to deliver in the last decade ?

    I suspect that if Microsoft's place in the consumer market is to survive the onslaught of iPad, it will need to produce the next big thing. Before Apple. And do it properly, so Apple can't just re-do it better, later.

    From observations here -- and among the my non-techy friends -- Microsoft has made enemies of many of its customers. Turning that around by ceasing to be the schoolyard bully would be a good start. But perhaps all we are going to see is a more efficient version of policies like renting MS Office and forcing Windows 8 down our throats.

    1. Frank Rysanek

      If he's a server man...

      If Nadella is a "server" man, he might actually understand much of the dislike that power-users have been voicing towards Windows 8. He might be in mental touch with admins and veteran Windows users.

      If OTOH he's a "cloud" buzzword hipster evangelist, that doesn't sound nearly as promising.

      What does the Microsoft's humongous profit consist of these days? Is it still selling Windows and Office? If that's the case, It has seemd to me lately that they've been doing all their best to kill that hen laying golden eggs... They've always been capitalizing on the sheer compatibility and historical omnipresence of their Win32 OS platform and office suite. In the recent years though, they've done a good job of scaring their once faithful customers away with counter-intuitive UI changes, software bloat and mind-boggling licensing :-(

      1. TheOtherHobbes

        Re: If he's a server man...

        There's an obvious win to be had by competing with Amazon: producing an MS Compute Cloud product, and selling it to enterprise on the basis that MS rather than in-house IT manage all the roll-outs, deployments, fixes, upgrades, and other time-wasting crap that server systems usually suffer from.

        Azure almost does this. But not quite. Certainly not reliably enough. And certainly not cheaply enough.

        Problem is, Nadella will probably decide consumers want this too, and try to turn Win 9 into the MS Chromebook for Dummies OS - while not getting the enterprise angle right either.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: If he's a server man...

          Azure is a damn sight more reliable than Amazon, even accounting for the occasional high profile hiccup.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Confirms nothing.

      Someone else's *opinion* agreeing with yours confirms nothing.

      Note: whether you are right or wrong is not my point.

  5. Phil W

    Value of opinion

    “can neither spell CONSUMER nor DEVICE”

    I find it hard to value the opinion of a man who uses double negatives in a sentence by using neither and nor, not to mention getting the words in the wrong order. It should be:

    “can spell neither CONSUMER or DEVICE”.

    1. frank ly

      Re: Value of opinion

    2. Aybee

      Re: Value of opinion

      >I find it hard to value the opinion of a man who uses double

      >negatives in a sentence by using neither and nor


      used before the second or further of two or more alternatives (the first being introduced by a negative such as ‘neither’ or ‘not’) to indicate that they are each untrue or each do not happen:

      they were neither cheap nor convenient

      the sheets were never washed, nor the towels, nor his shirts"

      I find it hard to value... etc.

      1. Phil W

        Re: Value of opinion

        Well this the opposite to what I was taught on the use if neither and nor, so I stand corrected there.

        It appears that you agree with me on the word order though, since your example was

        "they were neither cheap nor convenient"

        rather than

        "they neither were cheap nor convenient"

    3. Tom 13

      Re: Value of opinion

      Dammit! I'm at work so I can't Google for the School House Rock "Conjunction Junction" clip and post a link here.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "... sell some parts of the company and get rid of a lot of fat".

    I had assumed that the position was only open because Microsoft had just done the latter.

  7. Rupert Stubbs

    Dan Lyons - don't make me laugh...

    He's a sad, embittered man, ekeing out his fast-fading fame long after his Fake Steve Jobs column (which was genuinely funny and insightful), shuffling from high-profile publications to ever-less-relevant ones. He now spends his time snarking at Apple, so I suppose Microsoft should feel vaguely flattered that he's flinging muck at them too...

    1. jubtastic1

      Re: Dan Lyons - don't make me laugh...

      I feel a tiny bit sorry for him, he had a great thing going with Fake Steve, then he gets a call from a trusted source at Apple saying basically, let it go, Steve's dying.

      So he does, and fuck me, Steve doesn't seem to be dying at all, and no mention of any illness. it must have seemed like they played him exactly the way his own Fake Steve would have done, so he becomes bitter and adopts a hateful relationship with Apple that sours his writing and puts off a lot of Apple happy Fake Steve fans.

      Years later Steve dies and it turns out they wern't lying, it's just pretty hard to predict exactly when someone's going to kick the bucket because Doctors tend to er on the pessimistic side. Dan seems to have mellowed since, I'm hopeful we might see a return to the wit and insight from those old days again.

  8. jason 7

    A song sprang to mind when I read that...

    "It Should Have Been Me!!"

  9. Paul Shirley

    a stopped clock

    Dan Lyons proving that even a stopped clock is right sometimes ;)

    Microsoft needed change and this appointment signals that all the large changes are already finalised, he's just there for minor course corrections. Hard to see that being enough. Not enough to change internal MS culture enough and there's no hint at all of any change to their attitude towards customers.

    Too little to break Microsoft out of the stasis it's mired in.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Kempkin write ..

    "In his book, Kempkin writes about how Microsoft predicted many of the major developments in technology in the last decade, such as tablets, smartphones and social media, but failed to capitalise on any of them.

    He added that the decline in sales of PCs is partly due to Microsoft’s management of manufacturers, many of whom have publically declared their unease about the Redmond-based company’s move into hardware"

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Think of yourself ten years ago... it.

    Are you the same person now? Unchanged, undeveloped, living and working under the same conditions? Have you grown / moved / shifted your perspective on life, love, and the universe?

    You haven't? Oh. Good for you.

    I certainly have, and I don't think I'd liked to be judged, in the now, for the person I was then. Not that that was anything salacious or anything, but I was indeed a different person nonetheless.

    Give the guy a break, eh? Let him dig his own holes.

    1. Arctic fox
      Thumb Up

      Re: Think of yourself ten years ago...

      Words of wisdom old chap, major thumbs up.

    2. Tom 13

      Re: Think of yourself ten years ago...

      In essentials, yes I am. Some of the details may have changed a bit. In fact, in essentials I'm pretty much the same person now I was when I graduated from high school back in the dark ages of personal computing. Except for one major fault cracking, which was not in any way shape or form good. Fortunately for me those costs are unlikely to affect much of anyone besides me. But I was forged in fire and I don't expect that will be true of most people.

      And I will give the guy a break.

  12. spiny norman

    Pre-judgements of Nadella aside, Microsoft's boardroom is starting to look almost as interesting as HP's.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Person passed over for top job

    slates person who got top job

    nothing new to see here

    aside an american accusing an american of not being able to spell....pot, kettle etc

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Person passed over for top job

      Casual generalisation about an entire nation of people?

      Nothing new to see here.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Person passed over for top job

        aside an american accusing an american of not being able to spell....pot, kettle etc

        Casual generalisation about an entire nation of people?

        You mean like the one about not getting irony?

        *** WHOOOSH!!! ***

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Person passed over for top job

          That was irony? Eh?

          Words on a screen my friend, you'll have to learn to be a bit more creative to get your point across :)

  14. Unicornpiss

    Will it even matter?

    Another semi-useless human being that couldn't handle an actual IT job, or probably even the average burger-flipping job is now in a position of power in a large corporation. Intelligence beyond that of how to manipulate people is not required. Neither is vision. Only an MBA in most cases. He will be overpaid, out of touch with reality, and either make cuts or purchases likely with a half understanding at best of the tech, or whatever slightly more intelligent yes men advise him on.

    For the rest of us, the public and those corporations that have inked a deal in blood with Microsoft, we will be stuck for the most part with whatever half-aware decisions they make. We will continue to have to use and support products for which we are unwitting beta testers, and with "features" and interfaces that were rushed to market, and that no one likely needed anyway. Let's rearrange menus and "the look" of things once again because if it "looks old", it isn't new, right? It doesn't matter that the steering wheel in your car has been in front of the driver for a century, let's move it off to the side, make it square, and call it an improvement in usability. Or leveraging masturbatility, or whatever. Let's innovate! Let's lay off thousands and a year later hire back a different thousand!

    Guess I woke up on the wrong side of the bed or forgot my meds or something this morning...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Will it even matter?

      He's actually pretty techie (though not expert).

  15. tony2heads


    surely he can't be that Baaaaaaaaa-d

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: sheep?

      I guess he's suggesting that there's been too much woolly thinking by the Microsoft board. That they've made a ewe-ge mistake, ram-med this decision through too quickly - and so have flocked it up.

  16. Tim 11

    Unfair criticism

    There seems to be a lot of bad feeling in el reg towards Microsoft, and digging out some irrelevant ex-staffer to have a pop at Nadella before he's even started seems a bit harsh.

    Good for you I say - I've had 20 years of being messed around by Microsoft and their shit software. I don't care who's in charge, I just want to beat them with a big stick!

    1. jason 7

      Re: Unfair criticism

      "Good for you I say - I've had 20 years of being messed around by Microsoft and their shit software. I don't care who's in charge, I just want to beat them with a big stick!"

      Maybe a change of career is in order?

  17. lotus49


    @Phil W

    You are a buffoon. That is not a double negative but a perfectly correct use of the word "nor". It would be wise to learn English properly yourself before attempting to correct other people's English.

  18. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Fast work?

    It didn't take long for the knives to come out did it? The ink's not dry on his contract yet. I'm no Microsfot lover, but at least give the guy a run at it.

    P.S. I like that mis-spelling so it stays :)

  19. Bladeforce

    So really what has happened here is....

    Ballmer is still running the show by telling the new yes man as CEO what to do. The cliff gets closer everyday for the Redmond juggernaut

  20. Slawek

    “can neither spell CONSUMER nor DEVICE”

    That would be great! I just hope he will have no problems spelling ENTERPRISE.

  21. and-job


    Boy when an executive or ex-executive gets pissy because he knows he wasn't even in the running for the post. Those claws come out. This guy with his whiney catty comments just make him less of an executive and more of a schoolgirl who got spurned by a boy she had a crush on.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'd be willing to see what he does before judging him.

    However, I don't know if anyone would have even half a chance with Bill Gates breathing down their necks.

    That guy needs to either take back control (a la Steve Jobs) or make a clean break. There's no halfway house that can really work for Microsoft's top brass.

  23. MissingSecurity

    I guess I don't really care...

    Microsoft is never going to be the company I want it to be (and I would guess most of are hoping for). Quite frankly, we are only getting more diverse in our technology and these technologies are largely being focues on open source platforms with target of interoperability.

    I don't need companies that take standards and fuck them up adding propritary BS and claim its the norm, nor do I want this. I want companies to make my life easier by allowing any technology I use to intergrate with the other tech I use. (Not saying FOSS is perfect, but still its the better option)

    My last real bitch. Licensing. Fuck you MS and your damn licensing. (I feel better). I hate feeling like I am getting screwed and so I'll push stong open source alternates. I'd much rather MS created epic cross platform tools that are easy to use, but hey the FOSS community struggles with that too

  24. IGnatius T Foobar

    Microsoft FAIL

    Let us all hope that Nadella is exactly as successful as his predecessor.

    Microsoft products are problems, not solutions. May they continue their slide into irrelevance.

    1. Gray Ham Bronze badge

      Re: Microsoft FAIL

      Maybe, just maybe, a bit of pre-game sledging will do Satya no harm at all.

      Continuing the cricket analogy, will he pull a performance like the 1981 Headingley test, dragging victory from the quicksand of defeat? I will wait and see.

      Oh and BTW, Simon, we had something of a discussion about the Sachin Tendulkar thing yesterday at work, with the result being not quite as clear-cut as may have been expected. At the risk of being consigned to the outer darkness, and of course forever banned from the subcontinent, can I continue this in the forums? It being Friday and all :)

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    He's another Cook, someone we've never heard of and someone we'll never remember.

    Many people still think Bill Gates is CEO, Ballmer never made any impression.

  26. Frank N. Stein

    Sounds like sour grapes from some hater who isn't down with Nadella being CEO. Too bad. Get over it.

  27. Herby

    They aired the Apple commercial of 30 years ago a few days ago

    And it seems relevant even today. Of course a different object to throw the hammer at, but yes there seems to be a conforming audience to "cheer" on the "man behind the curtain". Look what happened to the last object of the thrown hammer, as we look forward to the next object.

    Of course, if it were chairs that were thrown, it might be a different commercial.

    1984 all over again. Maybe a rewrite with different characters. Haven't I seen this movie before??

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    another Ballmer ballzup

    told you so

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How hard can it be?

    In a huge corporation, to find someone to bitch about someone else?

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Probably sour grapes

    You can always find someone who left a company with axes to grind. It's hard for me to take his criticisms seriously. I hope MS gets its act together, and soon.

  31. agricola

    The ONLY way was to find someone who'd never heard of Microsoft.

    So you expected something different?

    The only way to make a passenger balloon REALLY rise is to throw all the ballast overboard.

  32. Sirius Lee

    This was a sales guy

    Like all those involved in 'OEM' it's a sales role. So Kempin's ultimate boss was Ballmer who was, allegedly, fond of shouting and throwing furniture. So anyone not in that mold is going to look soft to those who accept Ballmer's way is appropriate.

    The board, probably unhappy with both the management style and the results, I feel are likely to have been looking for a less acerbic more consensual leader. Ovine qualities allowed him to rise to lead a $20bn business so who's to say they will not serve him well in the hot seat?

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