Bill Gates Says "No" to Second Coming, Ballmer Discusses "New Era" for Microsoft
October 10, 2012 12:54 PM
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. (
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. (
) 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
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 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 He insists that the image that Microsoft lacks creativity is badly out of date.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
Windows Phone 8
, bringing a unified Windows experience across mobile and traditional computing devices.
, 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.
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