Print 63 comment(s) - last by erikstarcher.. on Oct 11 at 5:25 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. (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  He insists that the image that Microsoft lacks creativity is badly out of date.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

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

RE: Fire Balmer
By nikon133 on 10/10/2012 4:18:37 PM , Rating: 5
Respectfully disagree.

MS decline started under Gates last years. Gap between XP and Vista? Gates years. Gap between Server 2003 and Server 2008? Gates years. Lacklustre Vista? Gates "child". Stagnating Windows mobile? Gates years.

I actually like Gates, but I think he got a bit too relaxed in his last years in MS. Maybe was already getting too involved in his charity. Or just getting tired from managing MS.

Balmer's years brought Windows 7, Server 2008 R2, new Windows Phone, Windows RT... among other things. MS woke up and came back to life under him. He might be a clown without grace, but he is clown aware of his shortcomings and capable of letting people below him to express their knowledge and talent. Under him, MS is finally - FINALLY! - on a right path to integrate their various products - mobile, tablet, desktop, gaming, services - into one big and well synced ecosystem, something that MS, as dominantly software company, should have beaten Apple a years ago.

Like him or not, I don't think one can ask for much more from CEO. Under him, MS moved from stale and invigorated their products across the whole range. But large companies have large inertia, ant time is needed for trend to change. But I'm really not worried about MS, not any more.

RE: Fire Balmer
By Reclaimer77 on 10/10/12, Rating: -1
RE: Fire Balmer
By TakinYourPoints on 10/10/2012 4:31:14 PM , Rating: 2
Microsoft has made more in recent years than it did during periods when the stock price was higher. The stock was by definition overvalued in years when it was making less. Its price multiple was up to 5 times higher during periods when the company was making far less in revenue.

RE: Fire Balmer
By OoklaTheMok on 10/10/2012 4:58:59 PM , Rating: 3
That chart is just about Market Value which is directly related to Stock Value. Stock value does not indicate anything related to the growth or performance of a company.

This chart doesn't indicate anything about the record income and profits, and overall business growth that has happened under Ballmer

RE: Fire Balmer
By Reclaimer77 on 10/10/12, Rating: -1
RE: Fire Balmer
By TakinYourPoints on 10/10/2012 5:14:31 PM , Rating: 3
The stock chart supports your theory only if you have no idea what you're talking about.

Go back even farther and the stock is even more overvalued.

Microsoft has been doing great if you look at their revenue growth. Taking this information into account, the real story is that Wall Street put way too high a price tag on MSFT back in the day. It is making more money now than ever but its market value has also been made fair, that's all that's happened.

You know what's funny? For someone that puts so much value on greed and selfishness, you sure know nothing about finance.

If you want to talk about expanding outside of the Windows/Office markets then the argument holds, but I'm actually not convinced that Gates would have done much better. The failures of the Zune and Vista (way too many people skipped this upgrade at a time when they shouldn't have) were under his watch as well, as were falling asleep at the wheel with the smartphone and tablet revolutions.

RE: Fire Balmer
By Reclaimer77 on 10/10/12, Rating: -1
RE: Fire Balmer
By TakinYourPoints on 10/10/2012 7:34:08 PM , Rating: 2
You keep trying to make Vista out to be some kind of failure, but I hate to tell you, it's one of the biggest hits Microsoft has ever had.

It wasn't as big as XP or 7. Compared to other versions of Windows it was an underperformer.

I personally liked Windows Vista, I thought it was fine after the first six months when it was patched up and third party drivers caught up. It is also clearly the basis of Windows 7, which is mostly a reskin of VIsta.

That's your opinion. Stock's cannot realistically be under or overvalued, since their worth is exclusively based ON the price of itself and no tangible good or resource.

No, there are actually hard metrics that are used to evaluate whether something is overvalued or undervalued.

You saying that what I am presenting as an "opinion" about Microsoft's stock price is like saying that it is my "opinion" that a Yonah Core 2 Duo is slower than an Ivy Bridge i7.

Stock price is partly the product of earnings and growth. Expectations are another factor, which factors into the earnings multiple (growth stocks have higher multiples, mature stocks have lower ones). Multiply earnings times the earnings multiple, currently 14.5, and that's the stock price.

If you bought Microsoft in 1999 when it had a PE of 75, that means that it would have had to grow profits at a rate of 75% every year for the next ten years it to make money on your return. That is impossible for a company of that size. Over the last decade the PE has dropped into a normal range as revenue has continued to grow. The stock has normalized and matured into a fair market value, despite the fact that their earnings have been on a constant upward trajectory.

A big reason why so many stocks flatlined over the last decade is because they were wildly overvalued around 2000. It has nothing to do with the inability to grow revenue, Microsoft has been doing a great job there. Microsoft is actually a solid buy right now, certainly more than it was back in 1999. Obviously they would have grown revenue even more if they could have broken through with phones and tablets like Apple or advertising like Google has, but those obviously don't play to Microsoft's core strengths.

In any case, your post is ridiculous. It is like saying that evolution is just a "theory" based on opinion, completely ignoring hard research and rigorous methods.

Don't use your personal ignorance as a basis for your arguments.

RE: Fire Balmer
By TakinYourPoints on 10/10/2012 7:47:02 PM , Rating: 2
As for revenue, at its peak in 1999 Microsoft made $20 billion. Last year they made $70 billion.

Again, Microsoft's flatlined stock price isn't the victim of poor performance, it is the victim of being insanely overvalued and getting adjusted down (or sideways) from that.

RE: Fire Balmer
By TakinYourPoints on 10/10/2012 8:49:59 PM , Rating: 2
*edit for clarification - "having been insanely overvalued", which it clearly was around 2000.

I think Microsoft has been a good value for a while. I myself picked up shares at 25 last year. Between that and a 3% dividend yield it is a solid and consistent investment.

RE: Fire Balmer
By paydirt on 10/11/2012 11:22:34 AM , Rating: 2
Ballmer has done a GREAT job with the core businesses of Microsoft; the acquisitions have been bad. He's doing just fine.

My hope is that they branch out Windows from here on out... Windows 8 for mobility (tablet phone), Windows 7 for desktop/laptop. Windows 7 is great for many people and I hope they keep some version of it going for a long time to come.

RE: Fire Balmer
By Reclaimer77 on 10/10/12, Rating: 0
RE: Fire Balmer
By TakinYourPoints on 10/10/2012 9:56:06 PM , Rating: 5
No worries, I expect you to wallow in your own ignorance and consider that a plus

RE: Fire Balmer
By Pirks on 10/11/2012 3:00:48 AM , Rating: 5
Wasting time on such an unedicated obtuse idiot as Reclaimer is a mistake. Better spend your time somewhere else. Talking to a piece of wood is more effective. Even the Swashbuckler is way more fun :)

RE: Fire Balmer
By Reclaimer77 on 10/11/12, Rating: -1
RE: Fire Balmer
By TakinYourPoints on 10/11/2012 4:11:31 PM , Rating: 2
This isn't about that, it is about improperly using a stock chart to try and prove a point. It is meaningless given that Microsoft had a completely bogus valuation when it was at its peak market cap due to the tech bubble.

They're making more money than ever, the only reason the stock has been flat is because it was just that insanely overpriced.

RE: Fire Balmer
By KoolAidMan1 on 10/11/2012 3:07:28 AM , Rating: 2
Takin dropped some serious knowledge here. Everything youve written is pathetic.

You got smashed, give it up

RE: Fire Balmer
By 0ldman on 10/11/2012 11:10:31 AM , Rating: 2
You keep trying to make Vista out to be some kind of failure, but I hate to tell you, it's one of the biggest hits Microsoft has ever had. They took Vista, and basically re-badged it as "Windows 7" fyi. There's literally no significant difference between the two.


I don't believe you own a PC. You must either be posting this from an Apple or an Android.

RE: Fire Balmer
By Reclaimer77 on 10/11/2012 12:52:18 PM , Rating: 2
I'm typing this from a Windows 7 machine, so yeah, "wow".

Instead of more ad-homenium attacks, can you please enlighten me and list the major differences between Vista and 7 that would disprove my statement? There are none. They are virtually the same OS.

That's been the consensus opinion of the IT industry for years now. I just love when I state something, and people act as if they've never heard it before. Give me a break, get a clue.

RE: Fire Balmer
By Mitch101 on 10/10/2012 5:15:40 PM , Rating: 2
It shows no real decline either.

The Majority of Microsoft is not consumer products like Apple and even Google is. Its with Server products like Server 2012, SQL 2012, Exchange 2013, Sharepoint 2013. Most people only really know of Windows and Office and No growth well a lot of people will upgrade/replace Windows with Windows newer versions on both the corporate and consumer world. When your 99% of the market some will go get an Apple and upgrades arent real growth so Microsoft needs to venture into new areas for real growth to occur.

And while people say what have you done lately?

How about being a major contentder in the gaming console market is one. I would dare say the Kinect was a way of winning the console market a second time around using the same console as it was one of the fastest selling products of all time. No disrespect to the PS3 but a lot of people I know are still miffed over having thier info lost by Sony.

Microsoft Sharepoint is also one of the fastest growing Microsoft business products of all time but how many consumers even know what it is?

Office 365 will gain ground it makes sense there are few areas where it needs improvement but its starting to gain traction.

What Microsoft didnt capitalize on was the consumer product market but thats about to change and this doesnt happen overnight and its not cheap to do either.

Microsoft Sync only if Ford can keep from screwing that up with Nuance and overcomplicating it.

Bing is gaining slightly on Google but not going to overtake it anytime soon. This is where Google can only lose ground.

Windows Phone will continue to gain ground its a great product weather you agree or not it has a high satisfaction rating and starting to pick up.

Windows Surface Tablets are coming and hopefully we will see some low prices on the RT versions of the product. Dont be surprised to see a Barnes and Noble $200.00 Windows version soon.

Microsoft Smartglass will win some people over as well in the entertainment market and area where the Apple TV and Google TV cant make traction. I think the X-Box 360 already won this war and there is a ton more coming here for Microsoft. That Gold membership is just that Microsoft Gold.

If Microsoft starts to win in the Tablet and Phone Market how much will that effect a company who's bottom line is a good 20% or more of thier revenue stream? Meanwhile its one product of the hundreds Microsoft produces.

Its almost like Netscape who said they were so Big Microsoft cant even compete eith them and where are they now?

RE: Fire Balmer
By Reclaimer77 on 10/10/2012 6:11:35 PM , Rating: 2
How about being a major contentder in the gaming console market is one.

Hmmm I thought it was Bill Gates who envisioned that and dumped billions of dollars into the Xbox and Xbox Live project while everyone was doubting him?

How about you have the courage to bring up that the decisions which lead to the Xbox 350 having a 50%+ failure rate happened under Balmer?

Bing is gaining slightly on Google but not going to overtake it anytime soon.

??? The only thing Bing has done is cost MS over a BILLION a year in losses, every year. Are you serious?

RE: Fire Balmer
By Mitch101 on 10/10/2012 10:05:40 PM , Rating: 2
The cost of admission on them is high if you want to compete. You cant limp in and expect to compete against and established product line or service. For anyone to compete in the search engine industry you have to go big or go home. Bing is really good when I remember to use it but Im so programmed to type google its hard to switch out. But I much prefer to use bing for airflight info and image searches.

I believe I read Google makes 3 Billion a month from search advertising so if Microsoft spends a Billion to grab 5% away from Google that translates to 1.8 Billion in search revenue for Microsoft. Thats a lot of incentive to get it right but your not going to do it spending a few thousand and limping in.

You cant tell me 36 Billion a year on search when you have tons of cash reserves your not going to take a stab at it especially when you have a good product.

Sure lets bring up the 360 RROD. Microsoft didnt back away from thier mistake they took responsibility and for that I have brand loyalty even though Im still on my first 360. Im sure some of those were victims of poor air flow placement but Microsoft put in a replacement program and stood by thier users. Sure they could have made more money if they didnt have a design issue but they didnt run from it. Ask those who got stuck with the similar issue from the NVIDIA chipsets that didnt get any coverage. There is a lot to be said about Brand Loyalty. Look at Sony sure the user base for linux was small but they didnt need to take it away and the same for backwards support. Im sure a lot of those people wont be trusting what Sony says. That might only be lets say a million people but thats a Million people telling others to buy the next X-Box instead because they were wronged by Sony. Who knows maybe more will defect to the next PS because of the RROD but maybe Microsoft saved them because they did make good on console replacement.

Every company can produce a dud the thing is Microsoft can afford to pee away a Billion. Eventually it pays off for them. Xbox 1 didnt sell compared to the PS2 but the 360 held its own.

Not all Android devices are winners ask most recently HTC's tablet and Apple has many duds in thier past too. Nobody is immune to it.

RE: Fire Balmer
By vol7ron on 10/11/2012 12:04:46 AM , Rating: 2
I actually like Gates, but I think he got a bit too relaxed in his last years in MS. Maybe was already getting too involved in his charity. Or just getting tired from managing MS.

Those gaps in product releases were due to solving security issues (e.g. the Blaster Worm), that demanded attention. Vista was supposed to be Windows 7, but because of the lack of programmers on the project, it became a halfway job between XP and 7 (similar to ME).

One of the big money makers for Microsoft is Sharepoint. Until recently, that product was crap, but has since gone some revision and made some huge improvements.

"It's okay. The scenarios aren't that clear. But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that." -- Bill Gates on the Apple iPad

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki