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Ballmer was also key in pushing Microsoft into the enterprise

Microsoft's Steve Ballmer gave his final interview as the company's CEO before he retires, and it brought many triumphs and failures to light that maybe weren't so obvious before.
Ballmer gave the interview to tech journalist Mary Jo Foley for Fortune, where he talked about his role in key Microsoft events as CEO -- from bringing the Xbox to the living room, to taking care of countless antitrust lawsuits, to taking responsibility for the Longhorn fiasco.
Ballmer has done a lot of good for Microsoft during his 13-year tenure as CEO. When he was appointed chief executive in January 2000, he tackled the load of antitrust lawsuits against Microsoft and had most of them settled by about 2005. He even battled the U.S. government as well as 20 other countries and 206 additional class-action lawsuits in 40 states and the District of Columbia.
"Being the object of a lawsuit, effectively, or a complaint from your government is a very awkward, uncomfortable position to be in," said Ballmer. "It just has all downside. People assume if the government brought a complaint that there's really a problem, and your ability to say we're a good, proper, moral place is tough. It's actually tough, even though you feel that way about yourselves."
Aside from taking care of antitrust issues, Ballmer also pushed Microsoft from focusing strictly on the consumer market to taking on the enterprise, which proved to be a good bet since Microsoft now has a $20 billion enterprise business. 
"It's really only the last five or six years that people say we're right for the enterprise," said Ballmer. "Now people say we're like, 'born for the enterprise.' But I would say as recently as about 2007 or 2008, we'd still have people who would say we weren't an enterprise supplier at all."
Ballmer further proved to take Microsoft in the right direction when giving the approval for Xbox. Ballmer was the driving force behind that approval and the push to bring Microsoft to the living room. Microsoft executives say he took months to decide whether to go into the gaming console business, but Ballmer took that leap into all-new territory and it ended up being a huge win as the Xbox evolved and now directly competes with Nintendo's Wii and Sony's PlayStation.

Right now, Microsoft's latest version of the Xbox -- Xbox One -- is competing with Sony's newly released PlayStation 4. 
There were also many other good points behind Ballmer's time as CEO, such as his social skills, which helped Microsoft make good business deals; his sales skills, which helped the company sell its products, and good acquisitions like FAST Transfer & Search (purchased in 2008 for $1.2 billion) and Navision a/s (bought in 2002 for $1.5 billion).
But Ballmer wasn't perfect. There were hiccups along the way as well, and one of the biggest ones -- which he admits is his biggest regret -- is Longhorn, which was the codename for the Windows Vista operating system
"Oh, you know, I've actually had a chance to make a lot of mistakes, and probably because, you know, people all want to focus in on period A, period B, but I would say probably the thing I regret most is the, what shall I call it, the loopedy-loo that we did that was sort of Longhorn to Vista," said Ballmer in an August interview with Foley. "I would say that's probably the thing I regret most. And, you know, there are side effects of that when you tie up a big team to do something that doesn't prove out to be as valuable."
Ballmer had a few other missteps, such as bad acquisitions. Some of those include the $6 billion acquisition of the online ad firm aQuantive in 2007, where Microsoft took a $6.2 billion write-down five years later after its products and services failed, and the purchase of mobile services company Danger in 2008 (this led to the short-lived Microsoft Kin family of mobile phones).
Many would also argue that Ballmer missed when it came to mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, lagging far behind Apple and Google when it came to Windows Phone releases and its mobile app development. Its Surface brand of products hasn’t exactly taken off, either. As far as browsers go, Internet Explorer was dethroned by Google's Chrome. 
But despite Ballmer's failures, he'll tell you he did more right than wrong during his time as CEO.
"In the last five years, probably Apple has made more money than we have," said Ballmer. "But in the last 13 years, I bet we've made more money than almost anybody on the planet. And that, frankly, is a great source of pride to me."

Source: CNN

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for true
By Captain Awesome on 12/11/2013 7:48:10 PM , Rating: 3
He's 100% correct when he says: "But I would say as recently as about 2007 or 2008, we'd still have people who would say we weren't an enterprise supplier at all."

As an owner of an enterprise, before 2008 I had never heard of such things as Office, Windows Server, Outlook, Visual Studio, SQL Server. Did I mention Office? That has to be the greatest invention of 2008.

And all of the best products and purchases happened under Ballmer. Skype, eQuantive, Surface, Windows Vista, Bing, Windows Phone, Zune, Windows 8.

RE: for true
By Motoman on 12/11/2013 8:20:47 PM , Rating: 1
Apparently BRB had never heard of them either ^^

You guys should start a club.

RE: for true
By Cheesew1z69 on 12/12/2013 2:42:33 PM , Rating: 1
He isn't the sharpest tool in the shed so I would believe he wouldn't know.

RE: for true
By inighthawki on 12/11/2013 9:57:38 PM , Rating: 3
I cannot tell is this is a sarcastic post or not. The way you wrote it makes you sound sincere, but the content of your post says otherwise...

RE: for true
By amanojaku on 12/11/2013 10:56:13 PM , Rating: 2
The OP is simply misunderstanding the quote. Lots of organizations heard of MS' enterprise products, but never bought them. Ballmer implies that those organizations just didn't feel MS' offerings were good enough for the enterprise. Which is true; there are many organizations that continue to run UNIX or Linux flavors for their core functions. Financials, military, security... Windows generally doesn't have a foothold for anything but desktops there. It's one of the reasons MS has been pushing Windows Server Core installations, to appeal to admins who are used to a GUI-less, stripped-down OS like *nix.

RE: for true
By althaz on 12/11/2013 11:10:25 PM , Rating: 2
I don't know about military, but Microsoft has made massive inroads into financial institutions (like mine).

RE: for true
By amanojaku on 12/11/2013 11:47:25 PM , Rating: 5
And for good reason: Windows is simply the best all-around server and desktop OS. However, there are certain applications where alternatives excel, and that is what Ballmer was referring to.

My number one alternative to Windows would be AIX. Its high-availability is pretty nice, with massive servers that can have hardware like PCIe cards added live. SMIT is awesome, too. It's a menu-driven configuration tool that outputs the precise command line so you know how to do it. The only problem is the cost of the POWER servers. Which is where virutalized Windows comes in.

Linux is OK, but I get tired of switching to a new fork for so many programs. Windows' library has some long-standing, familiar programs. Additionally, the GUI is far better on Windows than it is on Linux.

Then, there are enterprise tools like XenApp, which can run a remote app through a terminal session, or stream the app to the Windows desktop. The closest thing to that in Unix is Chrome OS.

Of course, you could always run OS X Server and Mac desktops. <giggle>

RE: for true
By elleehswon on 12/12/2013 12:23:01 PM , Rating: 1
i can see why you'd prefer AIX over a Linux OS. by mentioning smit alone, i understand you have no idea how to administer a server environment outside of Windows and why you don't like linux(why run without training wheels when you can run with them). smit is administration for dummies. Take away smit, and 80% of AIX administrators lose their mind because they can't manage an actual CLI. Long story short, Linux > AIX and the numbers prove it. It's 100000x more modular(take the disks out of an HP server and throw them in a dell server and it'll still boot up. Hell, throw that disk in a modern(64 bit cpu'd) desktop and it'll still boot up. Do that on power and you get.....nothing. top 500 fastest supercomputers (98% run linux). most web servers run apache on top of linux. Open source? Linux. does your smart fridge run aix? no. it runs a Linux kernel. Most dominant smartphone kernel? yep, linux.

at least you still have windows as the dominant flavor of desktop, well, until developers give microsoft the 1 finger salute and start putting more time into opengl and abandoning directx. That'll be the nails in the coffin for windows PC gaming.

but hey, enjoy your job security, rebooting windows servers weekly and applying patches that require reboots. I'm sure your application owners love that downtime.

RE: for true
By Motoman on 12/12/2013 10:33:31 AM , Rating: 2
That is some of the stupidest BS in the world.

During that time period I worked for an enterprise software vendor. Not Microsoft.

I can say categorically, across the board, that the Fortune 1000 had infinitely more Windows infrastructure than Unix at that time...and Linux was and still is a fraction of a percent.

Did they have Unix? Of course. But when I walked into the data center of, say, American Express in Phoenix AZ, what did I see?

A room so vast you seemingly couldn't see one end from the other...with nearly infinite racks of Windows servers. Thousands of them.

The same is true of DOD installations I went to. And...well, everything else.

You have ZERO clue what you're talking about.

RE: for true
By retrospooty on 12/12/2013 10:24:23 AM , Rating: 2
"And all of the best products and purchases happened under Ballmer. Skype, eQuantive, Surface, Windows Vista, Bing, Windows Phone, Zune, Windows 8."

It cant be serious. That is almost an item by item a list of MS's most boneheaded products and purchases.

By Motoman on 12/11/2013 5:38:19 PM , Rating: 1
But I would say as recently as about 2007 or 2008, we'd still have people who would say we weren't an enterprise supplier at all.

...then what OS were those people running at their "enterprises?"

Let alone stacks like Windows server, AD, Exchange, etc.

I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that "people" in this case is Larry Ellison XD

RE: o.O
By BRB29 on 12/11/2013 8:11:20 PM , Rating: 2

RE: o.O
By Motoman on 12/11/2013 8:20:05 PM , Rating: 2
On the desktop? Sure. Motif, anyone?

And realistically, there were likely many multiples of Windows servers vs. Unix in that time period anyway.

So Long Balmer
By CaedenV on 12/12/2013 10:35:09 AM , Rating: 3
Personally, not a huge fan of Balmer. I find the guy loud, obnoxious, and I often cringe when I listen to or read many of his statements.

But he was not a bad CEO.

He brought the xbox which kept MS on the map in the gaming world, and had some large benefits of keeping games coming to the PC when PC gaming went through a major slump. The xbox One being x86 is also going to be a huge boost to PC game development with hopefully much more graceful ports between platforms.

He did a horrible job on the public facing side of mobile, but MS has hardly been absent in the mobile game. Balmer took the winMo and WP division and did a great job at becoming a huge mobile patent leasing company which has poured in the money without taking on the risk of mainstream public markets. And now that MS is starting to offer some real WP8 support as a consumer product they are doing a decent job at bringing a good experience to consumers... granted there is still work to be done if they want to compete head to head with apple and google in all areas.

Office too has been a huge success. In spite of good free alternatives like open office being available MS has still managed to grow their corporate and home followings of office. And while I am not a fan of the new subscription based office models, it has apparently been pretty successful. I just hope that we are not going to see much more subscription offerings for MS services unless they properly figure out how to do a family or business plan.

Lastly, I have fallen in love with the new unified front that MS has been trying to push. MS has always been such a disjointed company with 100 different products, and very few of which actually work together very well. But now we are starting to see MS come together with a unified interface, a unified design language, products that bring more value when paired together, and easier multi-device use. It has a long way to go still, but for such a huge company to have come so far on this initiative in 2 years is nothing short of miraculous.

I just hope that whoever the new CEO will be will continue these efforts. I hope that the next CEO realizes that the xbox One should be their new Surface PC for family and dorm rooms rather than treating it like a console or TV box. I hope that the next CEO takes WP more seriously and brings the UI features that it needs to truly be a leader in the industry. I hope that we can see cheap multi user/PC Office Home and Student options again rather than being stuck with what we have now. I hope to see Skype become a core part of the Windows universe for messaging and communications services, where as for the moment it works better on Android than any other device. I hope to see the Metro UI continue to improve, bringing the ability to use metro apps to desktop windows rather than silly full-screen experiences. But above all MS needs to focus on their promise of the '90s in bringing what is now referred to as the 'internet of things' to a reality.

Balmer was a good CEO to sell tools to businesses. Whoever replaces him needs to be good at bringing a fractured company together in order to sell to consumers again.

RE: So Long Balmer
By GatoRat on 12/12/2013 12:24:03 PM , Rating: 2
In 2005, Microsoft owned the mobile market. Granted, it was primarily industrial hand held scanners, but it's a huge and very lucrative market. They were rolling out a series of releases of CE. And then suddenly stopped cold and did nothing for almost five years. Nothing.

I was working in this market during this entire time and it still blows my mind how badly Microsoft under Ballmer messed this up. iPhone still would have made a huge splash, but with even the tiniest amount of effort, the number two position today would have be Microsoft & CE, not Android.

I've made a living developing for Microsoft Products, mostly Windows, but also CE. Ballmer took developers for granted and has been yanking us around. Many developer "initiatives" under Ballmer, such as the Microsoft AppStore, have been very disappointing.

By GatoRat on 12/12/2013 12:13:48 PM , Rating: 2
"Ballmer also pushed Microsoft from focusing strictly on the consumer market to taking on the enterprise"

That's utter nonsense. It was Apple that pretty much completely ignored the enterprise. Ballmer is taking credit for something Bill Gates started.

(Ballmer wasn't a terrible CEO, but he wasn't a good one either. He was arrogant, paranoid and never understood the technology. He alienated and fired many good upper managers and made the horrible mistake of trying to emulate Apple's attitude of "the customer will adapt to what we want", which worked because even though Steve Jobs was a complete jerk, he had a brilliant design sense.)

By HangFire on 12/14/2013 1:25:54 AM , Rating: 2
Longhorn was not, and did not become Vista. Longhorn was abandoned in favor of a quick rewrite of the UI of Server 03 to become Vista. This repeated the same story of Cairo being abandoned and a rush job to update 95 as 98, and beautify NT and make it Windows 2000.

"Mac OS X is like living in a farmhouse in the country with no locks, and Windows is living in a house with bars on the windows in the bad part of town." -- Charlie Miller

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