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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  He insists that the image that Microsoft lacks creativity is badly out of date.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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RE: I admit it...
By ShaolinSoccer on 10/10/2012 1:39:57 PM , Rating: 4
I've said it before and I'll say it again. There are tons of people still on Windows XP (including myself). Support will be ending very soon for that OS. I consider myself a gamer so upgrading to Windows 8 for $40 is the smart thing to do considering I'll be getting DirectX 10, 11 and longer OS support. I've used Windows 8 and learned enough about it to use it with ease with a mouse and keyboard. Not having a start menu doesn't bother me. Plus, you can download an app to add the start menu back in. No big deal...

RE: I admit it...
By andrewaggb on 10/10/2012 1:55:02 PM , Rating: 2
Windows 8 is fine. Metro/whatever needs some work, but it boots SO much faster than windows 7 and seems to run as good or better in every other way that I've been putting it on everything. Still runs all the same apps you used in windows 7/xp etc so to me metro doesn't matter much.

RE: I admit it...
By SlyNine on 10/10/2012 2:08:20 PM , Rating: 2
I don't agree. By taking the choice from the users they are hurting themselves. All they have to do is include a start (which is basically mini metro), and allow us to boot straight to explorer.Why oh why is that so out of reach.

The big issue I see is, how will the standard user approach not having standard close buttons? Getting stuck in apps and not knowing how to get back. I've let people try out Windows 8, its generally not pretty. Of the few I seen, most seem to prefer windows. Interested to see how the general public handles this.

I really hope they handle this fine, I love building and playing with PC's and PC gaming, and another badly perceived windows launch won't help PCs any.

RE: I admit it...
By Mitch101 on 10/10/2012 4:24:21 PM , Rating: 2
I have some great news you can have START again for $5.00

Stardock will sell you a Windows 8 Start Menu for $5

RE: I admit it...
By Pessimism on 10/11/2012 1:14:33 PM , Rating: 2
Classic Shell is 0$.

RE: I admit it...
By erikstarcher on 10/11/2012 5:13:53 PM , Rating: 2
Classic Shell is no where near as good as Start8. The $5.00 is well worth it.

RE: I admit it...
By Maiyr on 10/10/2012 5:05:31 PM , Rating: 2
I have Win8 on my laptop and it boots straight to the desktop, not metro. I did not do anything to make this happen it is just the way it works.

BTW, this is free....


RE: I admit it...
By Mitch101 on 10/10/2012 10:10:36 PM , Rating: 2
Ill have to check this out Id rate you up for this tip tks.

RE: I admit it...
By SoCalBoomer on 10/11/2012 12:24:56 PM , Rating: 2
Here's another - vistart ( - I've been using it on various Win8 betas and it works great. I get my little orb back!

RE: I admit it...
By Reclaimer77 on 10/10/12, Rating: 0
RE: I admit it...
By inighthawki on 10/10/2012 3:51:48 PM , Rating: 2
Or even just use sleep mode for an instant on + be right where you left off :). It's still good though for when you actually do need to shut down.

RE: I admit it...
By Mitch101 on 10/10/2012 4:26:09 PM , Rating: 2
SSD solves those slow boot times as well. Since I got one I actually shut down my machine every now and then.

RE: I admit it...
By Spuke on 10/10/2012 7:09:28 PM , Rating: 2
I read that you could drag the desktop tile to the upper left and that would boot you into desktop mode every time.

RE: I admit it...
By Master Kenobi on 10/10/2012 7:27:21 PM , Rating: 2
I'll have to fire up my vmware and download a copy from technet. I'll be more than happy to switch to Windows 8 if it boots into the desktop. I'm not a fan of a full screen start menu (which is all metro is) but I could probably deal with it until it gets fixed in SP1.

RE: I admit it...
By erikstarcher on 10/11/2012 5:17:06 PM , Rating: 2
Start8 from stardock gives windows 8 a start menu that looks just like 7, and lets you boot to the desktop. It is only $5.00, buy you can try it for 30 days for free.

RE: I admit it...
By Falacer on 10/10/2012 2:21:39 PM , Rating: 2
Isn't the general rule to skip every other Microsoft OS? So if you have Win7 on your home pc/laptop then one would not get Win8.

Microsoft has been trying for years and years to get Corporate America to upgrade from WinXP but I dont see that happening anytime soon.

RE: I admit it...
By FITCamaro on 10/10/2012 3:49:37 PM , Rating: 2
There are very few reasons I see to upgrade to Windows 8 over Windows 7.

The supposedly lower memory footprint is nice..

RE: I admit it...
By B3an on 10/10/2012 6:24:02 PM , Rating: 3
Theres loads of reasons... the main ones being faster speed, lower memory usage, better security + built-in AV (that actually works very well i've found). Then theres features like Storage Spaces which i personally would get Win 8 for alone. The better multi-monitor support is also nice, if late. I also like the new File Explorer and the simple things like finally being able to pause file copying. It's also fixed issues i've had with old and not well known games, which would crash on start on Win 7.

Theres more desktop improvements in 8 than there was with 7 compared to Vista. For $40 i dont see any reason not to just upgrade. If you're on Win 7 it will keep all your settings and files.

RE: I admit it...
By Master Kenobi on 10/10/2012 7:29:28 PM , Rating: 2
Windows "Upgrades" have kept settings and files since the Win2K era. It is generally considered a mortal sin to actually "upgrade" any version of windows. You load it fresh and then migrate the data over afterwards. In place upgrades only serve to cause weird shit to happen down the line that there is no explanation to other than "must be something carried over from the previous OS".

"Nowadays you can buy a CPU cheaper than the CPU fan." -- Unnamed AMD executive

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