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Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer has headed the company for ten years, since taking over from Bill Gates in 2000.   (Source: AP Photo)

Many outgoing Microsoft employees have criticized Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's performance.
Nearly half of the company's employees disapprove of his performance as CEO

Steve Ballmer, 54, forms a unique and controversial figure as chief executive of the world's largest software company.  His cracking, nasal voice brings to mind Chris Farley and his quirky sense of humor only strengthens the comparison.

But at the end of the day Mr. Ballmer means business, and he's been the undisputed leader since Bill Gates departed in January 2000.  Ballmer has led the company through some of its most glorious successes -- Windows XP, the Xbox, and Windows 7 -- but has also been on the helm for some of its less glorious campaigns -- Windows Vista, Windows Mobile, tablet efforts, and Kin.

study by shows that the company's above outlined struggles and Mr. Ballmer's strong personality may be outweighing his successes.  The survey of 1,000 departing Microsoft employees found that only a razor-thin 51 percent majority approved of Mr. Ballmer's job performance.

That's number seems more troublesome given that overall the employees were very satisfied with Microsoft -- rating it at 3.5 out of 5, just below the 3.8 out of 5 that Apple and Google both received in similar recent studies.

This year has been a stormy one for Microsoft.  Despite the wild sales success of Windows 7, the company's stock has dropped 20 percent and the company was forced to pull its new Kin phones off the market only weeks after it released them.  The latter failure cost Mr. Ballmer a bit of his yearly bonus.  Mr. Ballmer also drew fire for killing Microsoft's Courier dual-screen tablet concept, which had drawn much excitement.

Some observers say that Microsoft's performance with its new smartphone operating system, Windows Phone 7, and its upcoming tablets may determine Mr. Ballmer's ultimate fate and whether he is suitable to keep leading Microsoft.  A failure in these arenas would be a massive loss for Microsoft, and potentially catastrophic to Mr. Ballmer's career.

Rebecca Wettemann, analyst at Nucleus Research comments, "This is a pretty critical moment for Microsoft, particularly as we see a shift to people wanting access to the information they need from any device.  The winner in this space will be the one that puts a toy in the consumer's hands that is also a good business tool for a worker's hands."

She adds, "[Oracle CEO] Larry [Ellison] has Fusion and [Apple CEO Steve] Jobs has the iPad, but Microsoft has had things in development for a while without being able to get those things to market.  That's the kind of thing that sparks a leadership change."

If Mr. Ballmer has his way he would retire on his own volition at around 2018, according to his past statements.

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By solarrocker on 10/7/2010 9:25:57 AM , Rating: 3
I don't work there and I don't even like him.


RE: so?
By invidious on 10/7/2010 9:40:39 AM , Rating: 1
And you opinion matters even less than the ex-employees referenced in this post, which is already very little to begin with.

RE: so?
By GaryJohnson on 10/7/2010 9:59:39 AM , Rating: 3
Your opinion of his opinion then, by extension of your own logic, also doesn't matter.

RE: so?
By solarrocker on 10/7/2010 10:11:27 AM , Rating: 5
Nothing matters in most posts made lately on DT. Seems to be more that people come to watch the MAC vs PC fights of Tony, Pirks and (MIA) reader1.

An article can go about almost anything non computer related, but as soon as even one person says mac there they are.

RE: so?
By gmyx on 10/7/2010 11:38:24 AM , Rating: 2
reader1 quit DT a couple of months ago in a fiery way. He gave his password away, many post appeared confirming the password. I think his account now is suspended or closed.

RE: so?
By solarrocker on 10/7/2010 11:48:02 AM , Rating: 4
Wow, couldn't we just have given him a spare tinfoil hat?

RE: so?
By Cheesew1z69 on 10/7/2010 1:26:42 PM , Rating: 2
A few others who need to go as well.

RE: so?
By roadhog1974 on 10/12/2010 9:58:20 PM , Rating: 2
Za purity of zis forum must not be contaminated!!!

RE: so?
By inighthawki on 10/7/2010 10:25:49 AM , Rating: 2
but his comment wasn't an opinion about an opinion, it was a logical statement that can be taken as fact, therefore still relevant.

RE: so?
By GaryJohnson on 10/7/2010 10:45:03 AM , Rating: 2
His comment was an opinion as the amount the original poster's or any ex-employee's opinion matters (in any context) can't be proven or tested.

RE: so?
By inighthawki on 10/7/2010 11:19:55 AM , Rating: 2
Actually it's pretty straightforward to make the assumption that if person A knows person B, then their opinion of person B will be of greater value than that of person C who has never met person B, though may have heard of them. The same holds true linearly based on how close the relationship between the two are, thus even if a person working (leaving from) Microsoft may have never MET Ballmer in person, his influence will still play a higher role on the employee's experience and thus will allow that employee's opinion to have a greater weighted opinion of him.

Just as I can form an opinion based on a movie I've never seen based on previews, but it will hold much less weight than a person who has actually seen the movie.

Thus in the end, his comment is in fact a logical statement, and not an opinion.

RE: so?
By bug77 on 10/7/2010 12:55:42 PM , Rating: 3
Solid logic, but the article doesn't say how many (if any) of the former employees knew Balmer personally. Or at least worked directly with him.

RE: so?
By JakLee on 10/7/2010 4:35:58 PM , Rating: 2
Actually it's pretty straightforward to make the assumption that i.... <snip>.... thus will allow that employee's opinion to have a greater weighted opinion of him.

So, after reading all that I couldn't help but think - 7 degrees of Steve Balmer

RE: so?
By curiousgeorgieo on 10/7/2010 2:16:34 PM , Rating: 3
Balmer hates antiperspirant

RE: so?
By mmatis on 10/7/2010 6:29:54 PM , Rating: 2
I didn't realize he was French! That explains a lot!

RE: so?
By SmilingMan on 10/7/2010 10:17:09 AM , Rating: 1
Why does his enthusiastic support and cheering of developers upset you so?

The man was emphasising that developers make or break a sovftware platform, and I don't think that's something that makes him worth hating.

One might have a rational arguement about some of his business decisions; I'm not sure that this is a good complaint though.

RE: so?
By ShaolinSoccer on 10/7/2010 1:33:59 PM , Rating: 2
I'm with you. I can't stand the guy. Ever since the first day I saw him.

RE: so?
By drycrust3 on 10/7/2010 2:42:57 PM , Rating: 3
He probably doesn't care that you dislike him so much when it is highly likely use (love?) his operating system! If you really want to show someone that you don't like them, then don't associate yourself with them: use a non-windows operating system.
Ok, I concede, just I'm guessing that you do use Windows because most of the people on this website seem to, even IT people seem to. Some IT people (or is it "Most IT people"?) even claim every Windows from XP on is vastly superior to a Linux distribution like Ubuntu (which is what I'm currently using).
Sure I miss out on some really excellent stuff, like those screensavers you can buy, and the free malware. I just live with a dull boring computer that just lets me browse and write and do spreadsheets and chat in text and post messages here and has almost nothing to do with Microsoft.
As for Balmer, unlike you I don't have a dislike for him, I think he must be a very clever guy to run a company that thinks the operating system they plan to sell for mobile phones will dominate the market in 10 years time when it isn't even on the market and, as a casual observer from afar, seems to do almost everything his free competitors can do.

RE: so?
By solarrocker on 10/7/2010 4:59:12 PM , Rating: 2
I got a dual boot laptop, windows/linux, and windows 7 desktop. Also my phones run symbian (yes nokia) if that OS also matters to you? Hey I can SSH to my servers with the phone easy enough so why replace it, yes I know android can also but why spend money again on a device that does enough of what I want it to do.

Not sure what you trying to say as I do not buy any screen savers or even have any "Free malware".

Anyway use what works for you, use what works for you. As long as we can watch "pron" it all good.

RE: so?
By kingius on 10/8/2010 8:52:08 AM , Rating: 2
yes I know android can also but why spend money again on a device that does enough of what I want it to do.

I like this. Sounds like your becoming a smart consumer. We keep being sold the same thing, over and over again, and like muppets, we buy it.

RE: so?
By JKflipflop98 on 10/10/2010 4:06:23 PM , Rating: 2
"Sure I miss out on some really excellent stuff, like those screensavers you can buy, and the free malware. I just live with a dull boring computer that just lets me browse and write and do spreadsheets and chat in text and post messages here and has almost nothing to do with Microsoft."

Meanwhile my horrible, disgusting, plaugeridden windows machine can play any game under the sun - with the bonus that I don't have to code my own custom drivers for half of my system! Amazing! And it only cost me $100 for the O/S?! What a steal!

RE: so?
By YashBudini on 10/10/2010 9:35:34 PM , Rating: 2



Not too suprising
By Suntan on 10/7/2010 9:53:45 AM , Rating: 5
Hmmm... Show me a single company that can manage to have a high approval rating of the executive staff from people that are *leaving that company.*

Anyway, I’d wager a coke that CEOs in most companies are thought to be inept by at least 40 or 50% of the employees that still happily come in to work every day.

What’s with the Ballmer hate?

If you’re itching to hate on a tech CEO, I say go for Ellison. Come on, just look at him. It’s pretty obvious that the guy bites the heads off of young Dalmatian puppies for sport...


RE: Not too suprising
By mydogfarted on 10/7/2010 10:06:38 AM , Rating: 3
Seriously. How many people have left a job because they thought their boss was an asshole? I can't possibly be the only person.

RE: Not too suprising
By XZerg on 10/7/2010 10:06:51 AM , Rating: 2
RE: Not too suprising
By solarrocker on 10/7/2010 10:07:19 AM , Rating: 2
He looks like house (Hugh Laurie)... somewhat..

Must be the beard.

Also make it a Pepsi and let the wagering commence.

RE: Not too suprising
By sviola on 10/7/2010 10:22:41 AM , Rating: 2
Why not make it a pint of bitter?

RE: Not too suprising
By solarrocker on 10/7/2010 12:07:25 PM , Rating: 1
Pint of Guinness?

RE: Not too suprising
By omnicronx on 10/7/2010 2:40:41 PM , Rating: 3
I completely agree Suntan, did someone actually get paid to perform this study?

RE: Not too suprising
By marvdmartian on 10/7/2010 3:09:48 PM , Rating: 1
So basically, about 50% of the departing employees were willing to come out and say they didn't like him, right?

I'm guessing the other 50% were just a bunch of damn liars!

By Iketh on 10/8/2010 1:21:49 AM , Rating: 2
i just want gates back...

RE: ...
By Zingam on 10/8/2010 4:04:18 AM , Rating: 2
And I wish Genghis Khan back... :D Sorry man, Billy is a history.

RE: ...
By kingius on 10/8/2010 8:55:07 AM , Rating: 2
Uh yeah, a genocidal maniac fueled by revenge. Lets welcome him back with open arms. Honestly, some people, you can't make this up!

RE: ...
By Suntan on 10/8/2010 12:26:46 PM , Rating: 3
Yeah but Kahn wasn't that nice of a guy either.


Departing employees...
By SmilingMan on 10/7/2010 10:21:18 AM , Rating: 2
Very few departing employees from any company - whether Apple, Sun, Proctor and Gamble or Deutsche Bank - do so with a full and enthusiastic support of their management? What proportion of previous jobs you left or were fired from do you still think had excellent management?

Heck do you think your current company has excellent management? Griping about management is a world-wide olympic-grade sport.

RE: Departing employees...
By sviola on 10/7/2010 10:32:17 AM , Rating: 2
Speaking for myself, the last company I worked for had the best management I've worked for. What I found to be their greatest traits were the transparency of the decisions, care for employees and openness to discuss any problem (and solve it). But, then again, they weren't an american company and had a different mindset from the profits by any means we usually see in big companies like MS, IBM, Accenture, HP and such.

Unfortunately, and fortunately at the same time, I had to departure from the company because of a really great offer I received at the time, and their counter-offer was good, but did not match it.

RE: Departing employees...
By SmilingMan on 10/7/2010 10:49:05 AM , Rating: 2
It certainly happens, and regularly - but I'm sure you'll acknowledge that it's not necessarily the norm. 50-odd percent of employees being unhappy when they leave is not a shocking figure to me. I would not expect 90% of leaving employees to love the company they were leaving and fully and enthusiastically support their old management.

RE: Departing employees...
By straycat74 on 10/7/2010 3:12:24 PM , Rating: 2
Did you go to work for an American company?

Your reporting it wrong.
By Aloonatic on 10/7/2010 10:48:24 AM , Rating: 3
It seems like he's a guy that you'd either love or hate and is probably very demanding to work for, but he is clearly very good at his job. As such, I don't think that anyone is really surprised that some people who leave MS don't particularly like him.

What is perhaps more surprising, and would perhaps have made a better headline (as it's likely to be news to people) is that... Over half of people leaving MS actually like Ballmer.

RE: Your reporting it wrong.
By kingius on 10/8/2010 8:56:17 AM , Rating: 2
Good point. The media in general seems to like putting negative spins on things, however.

Batman Something Something
By btc909 on 10/7/2010 11:51:23 AM , Rating: 2
This guy would be perfect as the new Penguin!

Bale vs. Balmer

RE: Batman Something Something
By mmatis on 10/7/2010 6:32:45 PM , Rating: 2
Penguin??? Ptui!!! Don't you DARE mention no steenkin' penguins around Microsoft!!!

It's all about personality
By morphologia on 10/7/2010 6:18:29 PM , Rating: 2
Everyone got used to Brainy Smurf (Gates), and then we had to deal with Gargamel (Ballmer). It was a depressing downgrade, plain and simple.

Seriously, look at the picture...he literally IS Gargamel.

RE: It's all about personality
By Makaveli on 10/7/2010 7:25:07 PM , Rating: 2
This was the best post in here beside!

By Zingam on 10/8/10, Rating: 0
RE: microsoft
By ssj3gohan on 10/8/2010 10:00:14 AM , Rating: 2
I get the impression that you have a very narrow view of the software you're talking about. Windows as an OS at any generation, as well as MS Office, are very cheap actually. Basically, within the realm of proprietary software, they are about as good as it gets. They may not be 'the best' you ever had in terms of ease of use or even compatability (although they did have a huge market share, making them de facto compatible) but they have always been a damn good bet if you take more than just that aspect into account. OSes with comparable features invariably run on much tighter hardware restrictions and software with the same kind of hardware support (i'm looking at you, linux) have always been a pain to use. And the same goes for office - it's not everybody's cup of tea, but it's close for most. You're buying a versatile product and at very reasonable rates. You don't want to know what other OSes cost - damn, even embedded OSes weighing in at less than 10MB (or sometimes in the hundreds of kilobytes) will cost you more!

Power users now have a very able alternative in linux and mac os x though, and this has definitely put MS products in a different light. But you cannot persist in your argument without nuance.

RE: microsoft
By 91TTZ on 10/8/2010 10:33:16 AM , Rating: 2
Am I the only one who thinks that Microsofts success is determined by Bill Gates' luck to be in the right place and at the right time and not by Microsoft's quality of products.

I think it has more to do with his business sense. Bill Gates is well known for being a tech guy, but his real talent is in being a pure business man, the way that Rockefeller or Carnegie were. When you're like that, selling a top quality product isn't your priority; making the most profit and conquering competitors is the main goal. You could put him in charge of an oil company or a car manufacturer and he'd use the same tactics to increase his company's profit and become #1.

Sure he may be disliked...
By RussianSensation on 10/7/2010 4:09:27 PM , Rating: 2
...but at laest he is not the abnoxious lowlife waste of fresh air that Bobby Kotick is.

By blueboy09 on 10/7/2010 9:18:45 PM , Rating: 2
Half of the people in the world don't like CEOs cause they are greedy, selfish bastards in the first place. Just about every company head has a forbidden history that they don't/need the public to know about. - BLUEBOY

Not Bad
By Jadow on 10/7/2010 10:14:03 PM , Rating: 2
That means more than half do.

At pretty much every large company you're going to find people who don't like the CEO.

Pepsi, GE, etc... all probably have similar numbers.

Heck, MS may be ahead of the curve

By macthemechanic on 10/7/2010 10:39:13 PM , Rating: 2
I couldn't image why. Perhaps it is because he acts like some retarded child throwing tantrums?

Who can blame them?
By JonnyDough on 10/8/2010 2:21:35 PM , Rating: 2
From what I see/know of him the guy is an arrogant and ugly jokester who isn't funny.

Big surprise
By KoolAidMan1 on 10/9/2010 5:02:17 AM , Rating: 2
Gee, you'd think they would have more love for a CEO with no vision, someone who burns through billions in R&D and marketing every year and can only get products to market that are pale imitations of what Google and Apple do, and who's company's stock has flatlined in the entire time he's been CEO. If I had stock options there I'd be thrilled!

Yeah, shocking why employees would think this way...

for a hundred billion dollars
By roadhog1974 on 10/12/2010 9:48:49 PM , Rating: 2
people can dislike me all they fricken want.

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