Whither Microsoft?

Steve Balmer and Bill Gates on stage
Photo by: Dan Farber
Bill Gates (L) and Steve Ballmer (R)
Steve Ballmer is no Bill Gates.

Bill Gates, founder, longtime CEO, and chairman of Microsoft, combines three rare skill sets in one person:

  1. He’s a brilliant programmer
  2. He’s a technology visionary
  3. He’s a cunning and aggressive business strategist with a long history of wins.

Steve Ballmer, who’s replaced Mr. Gates as Microsoft CEO, is, by contrast, a sales manager: essentially, Steve is a cheerleader. He isn’t a programmer, and reportedly lacks Mr. Gates’ vision. He may be as aggressive as Mr. Gates.

Microsoft has been stumbling for years: the Windows Vista fiasco, initial inattention to Windows security, loss of the Search market to Google, loss of embedded systems markets to open-source operating systems, are just some mis-steps. Industry pundits, including investors, have been calling for Ballmer’s ouster. Last week, I heard Kim Komando add to the chorus of “Ballmer must go!”

I suggest that Microsoft may be better served not by replacing Mr. Ballmer, but by offloading his technical and visionary responsibilities to two other people: one with programmer/technical skills and another person with vision. Allow Steve to do what he does best: sell product.

A triumvirate would complicate Microsoft’s corporate structure, but where will Microsoft find another Bill Gates?

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695
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6 thoughts on “Whither Microsoft?”

  1. I have to agree; the company has lost crediblity with Vista (7’s OK but most small businesses seem to still prefer XP). It’s stock has stagnated for many years. But if you want to see some real mis-steps in the industry, take a look at what’s going on with HP!

    In reporting earnings Thursday, Hewlett-Packard lowered its revenue forecast for the year, which hurt the stock. But more disturbing was the sideshow that surrounded these announcements. After rumors surfaced that HP was considering spinning off its PC business, the company confirmed talks with a surprise press release — that just so happened to drop the bomb about killing its its webOS mobile business on top of disclosing earnings about a half hour before its scheduled time to report numbers.

    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/hewlett-packard-sums-up-worst-of-corporate-america-2011-08-19

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    1. David Packard and Bill Hewlett had a crystal-clear vision of what Hewlett-Packard should be: the manufacturer of the world’s best test and measurement instruments. They ignored the low-end of the market. In virtually every instrument category, if you were unwilling to compromise consistent accuracy for cost, you bought or leased an H-P instrument. (There was one notable exception: Tektronix oscilloscopes.) I looked forward to each new issue of the Hewlett-Packard Journal (published quarterly?), to learn about H-P’s impressive R&D accomplishments.

      Since the retirement and deaths of Mssrs Hewlett and Packard, H-P seems to have lost its way. It’s probably for the best that H-P spun off its test, measurement, and medical instrument businesses to Agilent Technologies.

      My experience with H-P commercial-grade desktop PCs is fine.

      My experience with H-P consumer-grade desktop PCs is awful: Their systems are bundled with annoying nagware and I’ve found cheaply designed cooling and poorly designed heat-sinks that caused early and persistent system failures. One design was clearly a failure waiting to happen that should have been caught by any entry-level mechanical designer. That the dumb design made it to production is, in my opinion, an indictment of the ISO9000 process — but that’s a topic for another discussion.

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  2. I’ve heard about the heat issues elsewhere. I picked up an inexpensive laptop that’s been just fine; got a really good deal on it. However, you’re right about the nagware; it’s obnoxious and unnecessary (and hard to totally remove).

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    1. I can’t recall consumer-grade H-P laptops as being significantly better or worse than their competition. I’ve seen problems, but then I’ve seen problems with ALL manufacturers’ laptops.

      H-P is probably the worst offender regarding loading of new PCs with annoying useless nagware. I’ve tried PC Decrapifier to make short work of removing these annoyances. I recommend that you create a Windows restore point before running decrapifier, in case something breaks. (Once, the Windows Start button failed to work after running Decrapifier. I had to reboot, press F8, and choose “Last known good configuration”.)

      Using Decrapifier almost forces you to clean the registry with something such as Ccleaner afterward. Read PC Decrapifier’s reviews on Cnet.

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