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Meanwhile Ballmer looks to pump shareholders up with a letter emphasizing Microsoft's success

When a more mature Steve Jobs came back to Apple, Inc. (AAPL), he revitalized the company he co-founded as a rebellious youth.  Millions of iPods, iPhones, and iPhones later, Apple is the world's most valuable company in terms of market cap.  Meanwhile, Apple's perennial rival Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) is struggle not for want of user, but for a faltering brand image.  Some say that Bill Gates -- the man who founded Microsoft and drove it to its initial success -- should return.

I. Bill Gates: No Comeback for me

But at his keynote at the Abu Dhabi Media Summit 2012 -- a leadership conference -- Bill Gates all but ruled out a return, saying his focus was on his philanthropic work, and it would remain that way.  He said:

Steve Jobs did a phenomenal piece of work. Apple, most people would have expected, were on their way going out of business. He had run Apple since it was a tiny company and then he came back in and made incredibly valuable. It’s a phenomenal business story and I thought Walter Isaacson did a good job catching that in the book. Steve and I were friends, competitors – we were a lot of different things. It was amazing what he did.

I’m now committed full time to my foundation work and I give about 15% of my time as Chairman of Microsoft. Microsoft is moving ahead with Windows 8 that combines the best of tablet with PC. This month the very first hardware based on that idea including Microsoft’s own Surface will ship. So there’s a lot of exciting stuff ahead in software and I didn’t retire from Microsoft because I thought things were getting boring. In fact a lot of best ideas- the vision of artificial intelligence and robots are still ahead but i did decide the philanthropic world was where my contribution would be more unique and so thats what I’ll work on full time for the rest of my life.

Bill Gates
Bill Gates says "no" to a Microsoft comeback. [Image Source: Flickr/Bill Gates]

Some people will be disappointed that Mr. Gates is resisting a comeback.

II. Steve Ballmer: Microsoft is Strong

But Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is convinced no comeback is necessary.  He insists that the image that Microsoft lacks creativity is badly out of date.  In a letter to shareholders, he brags that 1.3 billion people worldwide use Windows and that there are 8 million active Windows app developers.

The boisterous chief executive is bullish on Windows 8 tablets and Windows Phone 8, bringing a unified Windows experience across mobile and traditional computing devices.  

Microsoft has skeptics aplenty, particularly when it comes to Windows 8.  But as Mr. Ballmer puts it:

For fiscal year 2012, revenue grew to a record $73.7 billion. We also maintained strong cost discipline resulting in cash flow from operations of $31.6 billion, an increase of 17 percent from the prior year. In addition, we returned $10.7 billion to shareholders through stock buybacks and dividends.

In other words financially Microsoft shows little sign of being a "dying" brand as some opinion pieces have claims.

Windows 8 is a huge risk.  But Steve Ballmer is convinced it will pay off, even as Bill Gates watches -- permanently -- from the sidelines.

Sources: T-Break, Microsoft

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Innovation in MS
By Ramstark on 10/10/2012 1:36:17 PM , Rating: 2
I am sure that the people that immediately decides that MS is a "bad" "non innovative" company are fanboys of some sort, antiCorp people that jut stuck in the time of "MS the world monopoly" slogan.
While I don't agree always with Ballmer's plans,his focus on developers isn't wrong. The core Windows ecosystem (call it Win7 or Win8) depends fully on two things business users and consumers. In the business department he is doing right, but in the consumer market (The target of "comeback Apple") MS is still struggling. The Xbox (full commercial/consumer product) is a hit, but one has to think, what other hardware/software has MS created for the consumer market? Windows 8 (in the "metro" ecosystem) IS that product and is going to be accompanied with his hardware partners Windows Phone and Surface. So, just like Apple has Macs, Macbooks and iStuff, now MS is aiming for the full consumer market with PCs, Ultrabooks and "8 Stuff" (thats patented you slogan stealers :P )Now the CONTENT for that ecosystem is what is going to be the difference.

We know that Mac has the upper hand in the tablet market,in great part due to the content apps that have been developed through the years. Now, if we integrate the full list of elements in each environment we could see that,in addition to the enlisted previously, we have Windows Servers, and Windows business software that could integrate in the consumer ecosystem. Managing to achieve a business/consumer environment. But, to get this to fully hit both client ( businesses and consumers) you have to offer very good and polished content, the OS doesn't matter much, the hardware neither, the CONTENT and CONTENT INTEGRATION is everything, so MS approach to the future of "post PC era" maybe just right...

My first rant on DT...xD

RE: Innovation in MS
By EnzoFX on 10/10/2012 2:22:12 PM , Rating: 2
I largely agree, but content and content integration is usually where they fall short. Then again, this is their real big test of that, I'm sure they'll put in that much stronger an effort.

"This is from the It's a science website." -- Rush Limbaugh

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