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Some top investors and former employees are calling for Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's resignation.   (Source: Reuters)

IBM on Tuesday past Microsoft in market cap for the first time in decades. Some perceive Microsoft as a "dying" brand.  (Source: Silicon Angle)
No more "Developers, developers, developers"? Top investors demand Ballmer step down

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) Chief Executive Steve Ballmer has always had his critics.  His hard-nosed style of management offended some, as did his colorful personality.  But criticism of the CEO, who replaced Bill Gates in 2000 for the position, has been mounting of late as the company has struggled in certain sectors -- like smartphones and tablets -- and made questionable decisions, as well -- like purchasing video messaging service Skype at nearly twice its market valuation.

At a financial summit -- the Ira Sohn Investment Research Conference -- in New York on Wednesday, David Einhorn, an influential hedge fund star and manager of a fund at Greenlight Capital, delivered harsh words for Microsoft's boisterous chief.

He commented, "[G]ive someone else a chance.   His [Ballmer's] continued presence is the biggest overhang on Microsoft's stock."

Mr. Einhorn has vested interest in the company's success.  He recently executed a large purchase of the company's stock.  His firm now owns 9 million shares, or about 0.11 percent of the company's total shares.

While some properties like the Xbox console and the Windows 7 operating system have been well received and sold great, investors have largely focused on the company's misses.  CNN Money last year carried a scathing editorial in which it suggested that Microsoft was "dying".

With stock worth under 10 times the company's earnings, Microsoft shares are considered undervalued.  But not everyone is purchasing due to the cloud of doubts hanging over the company.

Last year Microsoft was notably passed in market cap by a familiar old foe -- Apple, Inc. (AAPL).  While many jeered at this news, Apple has since somewhat silenced critics by passing Microsoft on quarterly profits.  On Tuesday further concerns were raised when lumbering old giant International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) passed Microsoft in market cap for the first time in decades.

After years on top of the tech industry in stock, revenue, and profits, Microsoft is finding itself fading from the race.  Does that require a major leadership shift?  Some argue that it does.



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By fhaddad78 on 5/26/2011 11:26:00 AM , Rating: 3
To sit here and claim that Microsoft has no vision or that the company is somehow approaching its doom (because of it's CEO) goes far beyond silly, ignorant, and is just plain nonsense. The companies stock is down, not because of the CEO, simply because the company is not growing. Just like GE for example. People want to invest in companies that have the potential to grow, increase market share, etc. Many companies like Coca-cola, GE, Microsoft, aren't growing like they once did. This is the nature of the beast. Should the CEO of GE and Coke also resign?

The fact stands Microsoft will remain the main desktop OS for many years to come. Whether it's a monopoly or not. As it stands there are 3 major operating systems: Linux, OSX, and Windows. As long as they have been around, software companies choose to develop primarily for Microsoft. Some will argue because most people use Windows, therefore, the most financially effective platform to develop for is Windows. While this is true, I would also add that Microsoft develops some of the best SDKs, APIs, and provides the most intuitive support to developers and that goes beyond innovation.

Microsoft, who was once just a developer of DOS/Windows/Office now successfully has their hands in many other areas such as XBOX, SQL, Visual Studio, Windows Mobile, Skype, Bing, etc. Many of their more recent ventures (such as Windows Mobile and Bing) have the potential to become huge successes for the company and shareholders. These evolutions take time.

Maybe Microsoft was a little slow at getting into these markets, but look how late into the game XBOX came and now look at its position in the Market. Nothing monopolistic, greedy, dirty, slimy, or anything else was used to get there either.

Steve Ballmer is probably the best replacement for Bill Gates because he has been with Microsoft for so long. What the shareholder and the public is seeing might just be part of the transition of shifting from the direction of Gates to the Ballmers.

At the end of the day, Microsoft will be strong and will eventually see huge growth in many emerging markets. It's just a matter of time.




By Arsynic on 5/26/2011 11:34:00 AM , Rating: 1
You're wrong. Microsoft cannot rely on the PC market anymore because that market will shrink due to smartphones, tablets and then Converged Computing devices. Windows dominance in the consumer PC market is a moot point in view of this.


By Da W on 5/26/2011 12:00:19 PM , Rating: 5
While all the complaints about Ballmer are true about the past 10 years, Microsoft is looking to have taken a hold of themselves and the future looks briter.

The Mango update showed great promises.
Overpaid for Skype (nobody knows how much Google wanted to throw at it), but they will integrate a "facetime" thing on their phone that will work with every PC out there. Not bad.
Xbox does well and kinnect sells way more than iPads. Kinnect-like sensor will move to the PCs.
They will throw Windows 8 on PCs AND tablets and new apps/software coded in the .net framework will run on both ARM and x86 hardware.

PCs aren't going anywhere. the PC has always been a testbed for future technologies. It's always more powerful/smarter/more capable than smaller form factors. As phone become more powerful, PCs will be even more. The world doesn't end there ya know, a PC is not only office work and sending e-mails. There will be new functionnalities that will come as PCs get stronger, that will then be incorporated into smaller devices and new functionalities will appear on PCs.


By SirKronan on 5/27/2011 1:28:16 AM , Rating: 2
You, sir, are my current hero with this quote. You are absolutely right on the money, and I can easily see all of those things you mentioned happening in the near future.

The PC is here to stay. Right now I am building an HTPC for a family member, and a desktop PC for a friend of mine to use for school work. Desktops continue to have a place in the home and demand on the market. Tablets are great companion devices, and may replace some laptop functions due to their pricing and portability, but desktops are still the value king and the reliability king, and the upgradability king, and the repairability king, should something happen to go wrong.

And don't forget they are STILL the gaming king. What will raise the bar on console development if their aren't PC's with cutting edge tech to push the graphics envelope?


By smackababy on 5/26/2011 12:52:51 PM , Rating: 5
You're right! PCs are out the door and all software and apps for those smartphones and consoles will be developed on iPads and smart phones... Seriously? The majority of the world does more than check their email and Facebook on a computer.

And as far as the Skype purchase, it was a great idea. iPhones already have Facetime which only works with iPhones. People want that on Windows Phones. Skype allows it to work on EVERY phone and work on Windows PCs as well. The name is already trusted and isn't another Microsoft "product". It doesn't have the (largely false) negative image of MS products and millions (well maybe thousands) of users already.


By Boze on 5/26/2011 2:22:45 PM , Rating: 2
Uh, where have you been for the past 8 years?

Skype has many... many millions of users.


By Taft12 on 5/26/2011 2:35:48 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
The majority of the world does more than check their email and Facebook on a computer.


Add Youtube to the list and that's *exactly* what a majority of the world does on their computer.


By Da W on 5/26/2011 4:06:16 PM , Rating: 5
Add gaming (why don't we call this playing?) better games than on consoles, or flash games that you can't play on most phone/pads.
Add work - like text / excel /powerpoint presentations.
Add watch DVD/Blue ray movies.
Add downloading music / movies / pirated stuff.
Add browsing the internet on a FAST browser with a FAST connection.
Add recording TV shows on a HTPC.
Add: creating stuff, editing photos, videos, coverting music/movies formats to put on your IPOD/IPAD/useless apple toy.
Add: wasting your time posting trash on Daily Tech.


By omnicronx on 5/26/2011 10:01:37 PM , Rating: 2
At home...

I just never understand the theory that limited consumer devices are going to take over the business market (the majority of PC sales) anytime soon (if ever).

Taking this further, its crazy if they think people are going to vastly diverge from what they use at home, to what they use at work.

Until some kind of compromise is made, devices like tablets, smartphones etc will only complement the PC, and will not replace it.


By ddh on 5/27/2011 4:56:12 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Text


Well Said sir. In addition to Skype's integration in the Windows OS products i believe you sill see an version of it aggressively integrated into every MS appliance. such as the XBox, Tablets and other such devices. Skype for business is huge and growing rapidly as more and more business world wide utilize this technology to leverage operational costs. I see MS improving Skype and building a better Windows 2008 or cloud based PBX server for Skype business clients. Watch out Telco's here comes MS Screaming into your markets.


By Reclaimer77 on 5/26/2011 7:53:47 PM , Rating: 2
....

They rolled out the worlds first true Internet capable console and revolutionized online gaming with X-Box live. But I guess that's all because of a "marketing campaign"?

Established markets are hard to get into, especially when there is a high entry cost. So MS could meet that cost, big deal. "Throwing money" around won't automatically make you a winner. Sorry but the X-Box was a quality product with a GREAT game library and a revolutionary online service. You can try to discredit this all you want, but you come off as being extremely biased.

quote:
not microsoft's maligned product-quality with regards to hardware.


You seem pretty confused. Yes, the 360 had some pretty major quality control issues. But the original X-Box was freaking bullet proof. Hell mine still works to this day.

I still remember those way early days of Halo online play. Sorry but NOTHING on the market at the time could come even close to delivering that kind of gaming experience. That wasn't "marketing" man, get a clue.


By Paj on 5/27/2011 8:27:48 AM , Rating: 2
Yep. Lets not forget that it was a lot more feature rich than PS2 as well. Graphically more powerful.

The PS2 was marketed extremely heavily too. Who remember those wacky 'third place' ads? WTF? They made no sense. Trying to be all 80s apple.


By robinthakur on 5/31/2011 12:05:56 PM , Rating: 2
I beg to differ. The first console was not 'Internet capable', there was no web browser, just as there isn't one for the 360. The Dreamcast was actually the first broadband capable console long before the Xbox and it had a Web browser!

The Xbox might have been a quality Product with a "GREAT" game library (this is open to opinion) but MS themselves cared not a jot when they killed it overnight and released the 360 because the hard disks were too expensive to manufacture and they wanted to steal a lead in the next generation, which did not exactly endear them to gamers or developers at the time in the slightest.

The 360 did have Major quality issues, and this vast one-off reparative cost together with the marketing and R&D on both consoles meant that MS only started making a modest profit only from 2008.

Re: Halo online play being 'revolutionary', this kind of thing had been out on the PC dating back to Wolfenstein, Doom, Quake and Unreal Tournament on PC. Halo was unremarkable in terms of experience and its generic graphics and characters, even for the time (way before the OTT marketing came into play and the supposed 'Legendary' status) with the most notable thing being that it allowed 16 player system link play (Live was not available at the time it launched) which had not been done on console before. Apart from being the only fairly good game on the Xbox at launch, nobody actually accorded it that much attention at the time. What was the great experience exactly? Playing a cut down developed-for-Mac game on a console? I think you are letting marketing rewrite the past whilst looking back through your rose-tinted spectacles...


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