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Say goodbye to Microsoft's exuberant leader

To say that Microsoft has been in a "holding position" for the past few years would be an understatement. The company has floundered in its smartphone efforts (Kin, Windows Phone), utterly failed in its tablet efforts (Surface RT/Surface Pro), and has taken heavy flak for Windows 8. Even its upcoming Xbox One console has come under heavy criticism (to be fair, Microsoft has backpedaled on some of the major sticking points).
 
For years, everyone has been pointing fingers at Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and it appears that the big man himself sees the writing on the wall. Microsoft released a statement today indicating that Steve Ballmer will step down within the next 12 months. During that time, Microsoft's Board of Directors has been tasked with finding his successor.
 
"The board is committed to the effective transformation of Microsoft to a successful devices and services company," John Thompson, committee chairman. "As this work continues, we are focused on selecting a new CEO to work with the company's senior leadership team to chart the company's course and execute on it in a highly competitive industry."
 
For his part, here's Ballmer in his own words:
 
I am writing to let you know that I will retire as CEO of Microsoft within the next 12 months, after a successor is chosen. There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time. My original thoughts on timing would have had my retirement happen in the middle of our transformation to a devices and services company focused on empowering customers in the activities they value most. We need a CEO who will be here longer term for this new direction. You can read the press release on Microsoft News Center.
 
This is a time of important transformation for Microsoft. Our new Senior Leadership team is amazing. The strategy we have generated is first class. Our new organization, which is centered on functions and engineering areas, is right for the opportunities and challenges ahead.
 
Microsoft is an amazing place. I love this company. I love the way we helped invent and popularize computing and the PC. I love the bigness and boldness of our bets. I love our people and their talent and our willingness to accept and embrace their range of capabilities, including their quirks. I love the way we embrace and work with other companies to change the world and succeed together. I love the breadth and diversity of our customers, from consumer to enterprise, across industries, countries, and people of all backgrounds and age groups.
 
I am proud of what we have achieved. We have grown from $7.5 million to nearly $78 billion since I joined Microsoft, and we have grown from employing just over 30 people to almost 100,000. I feel good about playing a role in that success and having committed 100 percent emotionally all the way. We have more than 1 billion users and earn a great profit for our shareholders. We have delivered more profit and cash return to shareholders than virtually any other company in history.
 
I am excited by our mission of empowering the world and believe in our future success. I cherish my Microsoft ownership, and look forward to continuing as one of Microsoft's largest owners.
 
This is an emotional and difficult thing for me to do. I take this step in the best interests of the company I love; it is the thing outside of my family and closest friends that matters to me most.
 
Microsoft has all its best days ahead. Know you are part of the best team in the industry and have the right technology assets. We cannot and will not miss a beat in these transitions. I am focused and driving hard and know I can count on all of you to do the same. Let's do ourselves proud.
 
Steve

 
Ballmer’s resignation will mark the penultimate phase of Microsoft’s restructuring efforts that began earlier this year with some executive shuffling. The final phase, of course, will be the naming of Ballmer’s successor.

We're gonna miss old Steve. He may be gone from Microsoft within the next year, but his antics will live on in cyberspace:
 

Source: Microsoft



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RE: Oh darn.
By JasonMick (blog) on 8/23/2013 11:23:38 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Ribbon.

Ribbon is divisive... as the above op says, some like it, others don't. I agree it takes up a lot of real estate, but I think in general it is well organized and often it helps me find stuff faster.

My issues with Office are more about stablity of the product. I think it was the worst around the Office 2010 era. Office 2010 is crash intensive -- literally every time I close Word it crashes and then tries to restart. I've stopped sending Microsoft bug reports because it's wasting too much time. The product is a drastic step down from trusty Office 95 I remember using in the misty eyed days of yore... it almost never crashed on my machines.

Fortunately Office 365 Word and other apps seem much more fast and stable. I've been testing them and the difference in speed, memory usage, and lack of crashes is dramatic v. Office 2010. I give Microsoft kudos for '365.

I'm seriously thinking of paying the stupid subscription fee for the stability, if nothing else (darn you, Microsoft).
quote:
Kin.
Agreed, but Kin was meant to be a low-volume product (just not THAT low volume). It was a boneheaded idea. But not nearly as boneheaded as HTC trying to do the same thing years later with the Facebook Phone and producing predictably the same results. You can't market a low-end device as an awesome superstar, price it like one, and expect customers not to figure out. Kin was horrible, but could have done okay at budget price points in developing markets or on pay-as-you-go plans in the U.S.
quote:
Windows Phone (up until *maybe* the current version).
OKAY, on this one I have to say you're full of sh*t.

Here's why.

You can talk all the sh*t you want about Windows Phone. Reclaimer can too. You guys don't own Windows Phones. Maybe you've played with one. But you have not gotten the full experience. So I take your opinions with a grain of salt.

I on the other hand do own a Windows Phone device. Yes, it was a Mango era Lumia 900. It isn't perfect. Its battery life leaves something to be desired. At times I'll wish there was a few more games. But overall in comparison to my Android 2.3 Gingerbread EVO 4G it's a drastic step up.

Nokia's design trumps HTC's. The EVO's battery life was worse even (not that the Lumia 900's is all that good).

But where Windows Phone really shines is the interface and core apps. And when it finally got the Windows Phone 7.8 update that made things even better -- it cut my homescreen of key widgets in half, as I was able to compress lesser used ones and group them together.

Overall the interface trumps everything I experienced with iOS or early Android.

Certainly if I had stuck with Android I might have a different perspective -- ICS and Jelly Bean look like major improvements; the new hardware from Motorola, HTC, and Samsung is upping their game.

But at the end of the day I can say this with some confidence -- Windows Phone is a very good smartphone -- and the Lumia 900 is the best smartphone I have ever owned.

I think you hear a lot of people talking crap about Windows Phone, but I think very few of them actually own one. Of the people who are Windows Phone users, I think most are extremely happy with the platform (I can't recall any I met IRL who talked crap about it or were dissatisfied). The few that aren't probably had one of the first gen handsets like the HD7 that were somewhat laggy on some apps. But anything in the HTC 8X/Lumia 900 era or later is a great experience.

Hearing people hate on Windows phone is kinda like listening to an Apple user ripping on Android and how it "stole from Apple". Don't be that person. Don't be a hater until you've actually owned one and formed rational opinions.
quote:
Win8.
No start button, confusing gestures, and no tutorial of navigating the new interface were all moronic moves.

I actually feel the new Start Page is good -- IF you learn to use it (which with no tutorial, most people won't have the patience to) and IF you have a touch screen (which a large % of laptops don't.

I don't think Microsoft's Windows 8 innovations were useless -- the OS itself uses less resources and runs very fast. Microsoft just utterly failed to explain its vision to customers while also failing to enforce a basic hardware standard (e.g. touch) with OEMs.
quote:
XBox One.
True dat.

Good for them for reversing on the DRM and always on Kinect 2, but the who Xbox Live Gold feature crippling thing is beyond lame.

I'd much rather see them do what Sony does -- lock people who don't pay out of multiplayer gaming. That makes sense, because multiplayer gaming (if the console maker provides the hosting, which they basically have to) is expensive and requires resources. Thus it should not be free.

On the other hand features on my console like the TV Guide are delivered by the cable provider and are basically free to Microsoft. So how the h*ck does it get off banning them? It's just a cheap attempt to force EVERYONE to buy a Gold subscription -- even those who don't want to multiplayer game and hence aren't costing Microsoft a dime.

That scr*w-the-customer attitude makes me thanks, but no thanks to XBone.

I don't have time for multiplayer gaming. And I don't have time for Microsoft lame feature lockouts. I own a 360, but I'm not paying for Xbox Live Gold, and I'm NOT buying an XBone.


RE: Oh darn.
By Samus on 8/23/2013 11:29:14 AM , Rating: 1
I agree. WP8 is pretty awesome as a mobile OS. Next logical step forward from WebOS. Android is just too cumbersome and iOS is just too inefficient at getting anything done.

The problem is apps. At least WP8 has Google Maps now (but still no Youtube client) so it's a gamble on how capable it will be for the power user.


RE: Oh darn.
By Tony Swash on 8/23/13, Rating: 0
RE: Oh darn.
By retrospooty on 8/23/2013 12:50:56 PM , Rating: 2
That is pretty hilarious... If your CEO leaves and your stock jumps that much, it says alot. It says you needed to go long ago.


RE: Oh darn.
By Tony Swash on 8/24/2013 6:33:03 AM , Rating: 1
This article

http://kickingbear.com/blog/archives/354

is a reminder that Ballmer has only recently announced the most profound reorganisation in Microsoft's history, and is adopting BTW a very unusual corporate structure used by only one other big tech company, and is now in the process of walking out the door. The re-org on it's own would have sent waves of uncertainty throughout the company's middle and top management and now the authority of the man in charge is vanishing as he is a dead man walking. Looks like a recipe for chaos to me.

The next couple of years at Microsoft are going to be extraordinarily difficult and demanding for the company and it's managers, it will either make or break the company. Either a miraculous rebirth or a further acceleration in it's decline. I know which one I expect to happen.


RE: Oh darn.
By retrospooty on 8/24/2013 10:25:12 PM , Rating: 2
It is going to be tough, but there is time and plenty money to fix it... The total lack of customer focus they have shown in Win8 and the XboxOne have got to stop. They need to bring back the "let's give them exactly what they want and then some" attitude they put Win7 out with or face further decline.


RE: Oh darn.
By Jeffk464 on 8/23/2013 5:56:11 PM , Rating: 2
What is cumbersome about Android? I find it much easier to use than windows and it runs better on much lesser hardware.


RE: Oh darn.
By Reclaimer77 on 8/23/2013 8:06:07 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah I asked myself the same when I read that. Perhaps he simply hasn't experienced Google Now. It's really streamlined how I use the smartphone, it's almost telepathic in how it displays useful data just when I need it. I now perform most of my daily functions JUST through the Google Now widget either through cards or commands.

Even if you just want to use Android as a dumb app shortcut launcher like iOS, kinda fail to see how that's cumbersome.


RE: Oh darn.
By Reclaimer77 on 8/23/2013 11:59:24 AM , Rating: 2
Its kind of ironic reading a web tech journalist telling someone they can't speak on a product without owning one personally. Why are we here if not to learn and discuss these things and make informed decisions?

Also I hoped after all these years conversing with you here and in emails, you wouldn't categorize my opinions as just "talking crap".

I'll justify my 'crap talking' when I get home in more detail :)


RE: Oh darn.
By rdhood on 8/23/2013 12:12:26 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
s kind of ironic reading a web tech journalist telling someone they can't speak on a product without owning one personally. Why are we here if not to learn and discuss these things and make informed decisions?


Exactly. Do I really have to own a Yugo or a Pinto before I can call them crap?

Seriously, just about everyone has access to these technologies if they want to test drive them. No need to own a Vista machine or a win8 machine to form an opinion.


RE: Oh darn.
By JasonMick (blog) on 8/23/13, Rating: 0
RE: Oh darn.
By Motoman on 8/23/2013 12:13:23 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
You can talk all the sh*t you want about Windows Phone.


You misunderstand my intent there. Perhaps I should have qualified it differently, but I was really talking to the utter failure of WP on the market, essentially forever, until *maybe* now. The jury's still out on that.

Personally I really don't give a rat's a$s what OS is on a phone. For the *vast* majority of users, there's no difference. Every OS has screens with icons on them. Icons launch apps. Yay. Beyond that, I can't understate how little I care about whatever other "features" there are in a phone OS. I need to be able to make phone calls, text messages, surf around on the internet, and play a couple games.

EVERY phone OS does that, and has for at least the past 15 years or so.

So no...I'm not saying that there has necessarily been anything "wrong" with WP as a product. I included it in my list because of it's utter failure as a product that people will buy - for whatever reason that is. Personally, I really couldn't care less what OS was on my phone so long as it did the basic things noted above.


RE: Oh darn.
By JasonMick (blog) on 8/23/2013 12:45:23 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
You misunderstand my intent there. Perhaps I should have qualified it differently, but I was really talking to the utter failure of WP on the market, essentially forever, until *maybe* now. The jury's still out on that.

Personally I really don't give a rat's a$s what OS is on a phone. For the *vast* majority of users, there's no difference. Every OS has screens with icons on them. Icons launch apps. Yay. Beyond that, I can't understate how little I care about whatever other "features" there are in a phone OS. I need to be able to make phone calls, text messages, surf around on the internet, and play a couple games.

EVERY phone OS does that, and has for at least the past 15 years or so.

So no...I'm not saying that there has necessarily been anything "wrong" with WP as a product. I included it in my list because of it's utter failure as a product that people will buy - for whatever reason that is. Personally, I really couldn't care less what OS was on my phone so long as it did the basic things noted above.
Fair enough, I suppose I can understand from that perspective.

I just interpreted your comments to be a misinformed attack on the platform (as in saying it wasn't usable/easy to use) as that's what many similar commentaries I've seen have been. I'm glad you clarified what you meant, though, and sorry if I was a little harsh on you.

My nerves are setttled. :P


RE: Oh darn.
By Jeffk464 on 8/24/2013 4:10:49 PM , Rating: 2
WP is unsuccessful because it was late to market, everyone is already comfortable with android and iOS. They actually have some really nice products now but why leave android?


RE: Oh darn.
By inighthawki on 8/24/2013 4:52:44 PM , Rating: 2
The same reason they left iOS for android?


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