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Will Ballmer Be Replaced As Microsoft CEO?

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the well-eventually-sure dept.

Microsoft 342

Strudelkugel writes "The Beast reports unhappiness with Steve Ballmer as CEO of Microsoft: Sources say the talk around Microsoft's Redmond, Washington, headquarters — which has grown increasingly loud ever since Apple surpassed Microsoft in market capitalization — is that the company's stock suffers from a 'Ballmer discount,' and that the CEO is on the clock to significantly move the needle on its share price over the next two or three quarters or face a potential move to oust him. 'Ballmer is on the list of mega-executives under pressure,' says a banker who has negotiated deals for Microsoft. 'If he was asked to leave the building, I suspect there would be more happy than unhappy people.'"

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Incoming fucktard SquarePixel/sopssa trolling ... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33030156)

SquarePixel = sopssa = fucktard troll. Remember it moderators!

Peace out!

Re:Incoming fucktard SquarePixel/sopssa trolling . (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33030364)

shut the fuck up. no one cares about your shitty internet drama.

Steve Ballmer to be replaced with goatse guy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33030882)

Kirk Johnson's official homepage and fanclub confirms it: http://admin.imagefap.com/profile.php?user=KirkJ&type=1 [imagefap.com]

Re:Incoming fucktard SquarePixel/sopssa trolling . (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33030424)

I'm confused. I don't see comments or, well ANYTHING from soppsa or SquarePixel. Why was this posted?

Re:Incoming fucktard SquarePixel/sopssa trolling . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33030464)

Trolls trolling trolls.

Re:Incoming fucktard SquarePixel/sopssa trolling . (1)

somaTh (1154199) | more than 4 years ago | (#33030846)

It was silly of me to assume that trolls would be on topic. Or that they make sense.

Re:Incoming fucktard SquarePixel/sopssa trolling . (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33030798)

Thanks for the information AC, I've known about sopssa obviously but didn't know about SquarePixel.

I'll make sure to mod them accordingly, keep up the good work!

the Balminator (4, Funny)

KernelMuncher (989766) | more than 4 years ago | (#33030200)

He threw a chair at one of his staff. What's he going to do when they come to fire him ? Throw an entire office set ?

Re:the Balminator (5, Insightful)

ZeroExistenZ (721849) | more than 4 years ago | (#33030268)

What's he going to do when they come to fire him ? Throw an entire office set ?

He'll cash in his layoff-bonus he surely has somewhere on contract, and start up something of his own.

Microsoft will flourish again with all the young idealistic minds working hard and get slowly more solid and standard-comliant, but wont get so much back into the front-game.

Balminator, on the other hand, will be very loud with his "next new best thing" and go after Apple's marketshare. Ultimately, he'll end up as a lonely old but relatively rich man and being moderatly successful in the furtniture durability testing-industry.

Re:the Balminator (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33030868)

And you have a bright career ahead of you as a beta-tester for companies that write spell-checking software.

Re:the Balminator (1)

ZeroExistenZ (721849) | more than 4 years ago | (#33031344)

And you have a bright career ahead of you as a beta-tester for companies that write spell-checking software.

I have copywriters, websales, marketting and a legal department for that.
And most certainly for content in my 4th language.

Now, you can judge me on my code as it's my field of expertise ;)

Not Surprising (4, Insightful)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 4 years ago | (#33030202)

I find it amazing that he's lasted this long. The man has a bit of a history as a public relations problem.

Re:Not Surprising (3, Insightful)

beakerMeep (716990) | more than 4 years ago | (#33030442)

Seems they have had some decently grand failures too as of late. WP7 looks almost dead out of the gate, Kin was dead out of the gate and they killed Courier before ever seeing the gate. Couple that with continual loss of browser share versus Firefox, and you have some pretty bad failures. While Windows 7 did well I think many havent forgotten how badly Vista sold. Now, being MS I'm sure they had quite a few spectacular failures over the years but it seems they are pretty inept at reading the marketplace as of late. Though they seem to be doing OK with Xbox.

Still, the thing that bums me is that Courier could have been so great.

/speculation

Re:Not Surprising (4, Informative)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 4 years ago | (#33030700)

Though they seem to be doing OK with Xbox.

In terms of marketshare, Xbox is a success. In terms of finances, Xbox is a failure. It has been profitable for a few quarters but has yet to pay back the $7-8 billion spent over the lifetime of the product. Most companies would have declared bankruptcy or killed a money-losing product. But as CEO, this is a decision he has not made.

Re:Not Surprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33031058)

Perhaps the XBox is seen more as marketing that has the potential to make money.

Re:Not Surprising (1)

SquarePixel (1851068) | more than 4 years ago | (#33031102)

You know, it's not always about immediate profit. It takes huge effort to fight in the console market. That's why there is only three of them. Microsoft has been really successful in that regard and they keep opening avenues for new products and keep gaining market share in the old ones.

Gates and Ballmer might lack the young vision they once had, but on the other hand they're been a stable successful company for decades. Windows and Office isn't going to be losing their market share and that is the main line of products for Microsoft.

Remember that innovations usually come from small startups which then get bought by the large corporations. Google does this same, ie Google Earth is really Keyhole, inc's product.

Re:Not Surprising (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33031264)

Spend $8 billion to make $200 million a year 9 years later. ROI is pretty shitty don't you think?

MS willingly taking losses to gain market share = buying market share. No wonder stock is stagnant.

Re:Not Surprising (5, Insightful)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 4 years ago | (#33031122)

You have to remember though that the original Xbox was essentially not expected to turn a profit. Their goal was to use it as entry into the home console market. If you consider that as an end goal (rather than profits), then it was successful. It got Microsoft into a VERY difficult market. Look at all the companies that failed in that area, some with MUCH more experience in that domain: Sega, Atari, NeoGeo, NEC (TurboGrafx).

Microsoft broke into the market and has turned their unit profitable. As laughable as most people considered their first product, in North America Xbox360 is the de-facto standard console for traditional gamers (Wii is more profitable overall, but it targets a different market).

There's essentially no question that Xbox has been trending upwards the whole time. If they continue, then they'll make their money back overall.

Essentially, Xbox was loosing money at first, but is now profitable and trending up. Compare to Microsoft's other businesses: still profitable, but trending downwards, and it's easy to see which will work out better in the long run.

Re:Not Surprising (1)

zach_the_lizard (1317619) | more than 4 years ago | (#33031390)

I don't really remember thinking that the original Xbox was laughable. The console of that generation that I thought was laughable was the GameCube; it gave me really low hopes for the Wii, until I played one. Perhaps the Kin disaster isn't foreshadowing what's to come; maybe it's just a misstep on the path to success. For the sake of MS, I hope so, because they will eventually be boxed into a small corner if they can't gain traction in the mobile market.

Re:Not Surprising (4, Interesting)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 4 years ago | (#33031284)

This guy Ballmer hasn't shown me that he has any "vision", something that simply oozes out of Jobs. Ballmer and his team appear to constantly be playing "catch-up"; Apple trots out an mp3 player that becomes the rage of the info age, Ballmer says "ooh, I want that!" and they scrape together a brown thing that no one buys. Jobs presents the iPhone to a cheering crowd, now people ask me where my iPhone is (I don't have or want one), Ballmer is still trying to get his mobile acto together. They can't produce a successful, hip marketing campaign if Ballmer's mother's life depended on it, and haven't since those losing commercials Gates did with Sienfeld. Before even. Remember the Vista install "party" commercials? Holy crap. Maybe Microsoft simply needs to shake things up? They kind of did that over the spring, but two executives isn't really a shake-up.

Ballmer Out, Dark Knight Radick in! (2, Funny)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 4 years ago | (#33030218)

"Ballmer is on the list of mega-executives under pressure," says a banker who has negotiated deals for Microsoft. "If he was asked to leave the building, I suspect there would be more happy than unhappy people."

If he read /., he could state that as fact. :p

Re:Ballmer Out, Dark Knight Radick in! (3, Insightful)

nschubach (922175) | more than 4 years ago | (#33030604)

I'm not sure... Ballmer has done more for the "Microsoft driven by a crazy monkey" image than anyone. If they replace him with someone with a higher approval it may make a lot of unhappy people who would rather keep the lead weight at the top and bring Microsoft back down to the competitive arena.

Personally, I think the best thing all around would be to have Microsoft's market share crumble to less then 50% and promote more competition. With a competent CEO that may be a longer curve than leaving Ballmer in charge of the direction of the company.

I can hear Balmer now. (0, Troll)

xactuary (746078) | more than 4 years ago | (#33030240)

Developing story! Developing story! Developing story!

Go read... Augustine (4, Informative)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | more than 4 years ago | (#33030242)

Not St. Augustine, Norman Augustine, ex-prez of many a big corporation. His book has dozens of interesting graphs, the most appropriiate one is a X-Y scatter graph of company president pay versus company stock. No visible correlation at all. When you get up to a certain level, you're mainly a figurehead.

Will you have lunch with God, and will He pay? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33030246)

I would like to know the answer to this, and countless others.

Instead of developers... developers... etc.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33030260)

unemployment... unemployment... etc...

To be replaced by...? (5, Insightful)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 4 years ago | (#33030278)

I'm hardly a Ballmer fan, but what could he have done substantially differently? In my opinion, he inherited a pig with no obvious roadmap to future gains. He managed over the Kin debacle, sure, but he also managed the Xbox and that worked out pretty well.

I've read a thousand perfectly valid criticisms of Microsoft over the years, but I'm not sure that many of them can be traced back to Ballmer. For example, what changes could he have made to the Windows or Office lines to gain new growth instead of settling for trying to get current users to upgrade?

If anything, I think investors are expecting too much of Microsoft. Yes, it's somewhat stagnant. Of course it is! It already has something like 90% of the slow-growing PC market and roughly 100% of the "non-gratis office suite that runs on Windows" market. There's just not any growth left in MS's core competencies, and at least they're trying new stuff, even if the results are pretty embarrassing most of the time.

Re:To be replaced by...? (5, Insightful)

Zelgadiss (213127) | more than 4 years ago | (#33030380)

The problem with the guy is he has practically no vision.

Most of what MS has been doing, ever since he took over, is playing catch up with Google and Apple.

For their investors, it's not enough that they try new stuff, the new stuff has to "work".

Re:To be replaced by...? (-1, Flamebait)

megaditto (982598) | more than 4 years ago | (#33030596)

Their investors would be happier if some new MS CEO fired their skilled developers, sold off the pipeline to Apple, and did a stock swap with Altavista or some other yahoo-like shitcan. Yes, the stock would go through the roof, long enough for the CEO to take his golden parachute and bail.

The investors would be happy, but that's because your average investor is an idiot that wants some "change" she can believe in. How's that working out, by the way?

Re:To be replaced by...? (2)

Zelgadiss (213127) | more than 4 years ago | (#33030910)

Don't think so.

MS is still making a hell load of money, it just that they aren't growing.
No reason to tear apart the company.

Changing out the currently water treading CEO for one who might be able to move the company forward on the other hand.

Re:To be replaced by...? (5, Insightful)

FreonTrip (694097) | more than 4 years ago | (#33030398)

A quick visit to Mini-Microsoft [blogspot.com] yields a lot of insight, especially in the comments thread. The management system's apparently poisonous and horrifically bloated, leading to lots of in-fighting and internecine political battles between rival divisions within the same company. Most employees also languish under a tiered review system that is overtly strict in its implementation and prone to misuse by the aforementioned management. I'm inclined to believe that a lot of promising developments are being sacrificed at the altar of upward career mobility for a largely administrative segment of the company, and that everyone else basically suffers and watches the rest of the world pull ahead.

Re:To be replaced by...? (5, Insightful)

TheRealFixer (552803) | more than 4 years ago | (#33030804)

Really, though, the same could be said of any company that size and age. Very large companies nearly always, over time, develop into unwieldy mega-bureaucracies, comprised of individual fiefdoms solely concerned about their own headcount and perceived influence. They become microcosms of nations. They have well-defined class structures, their own culture, sometimes even their own currency internally.

Replacing Ballmer isn't going to change any of that. A new CEO might excite the board and top investors a little, perhaps shuffle some HR/management policies around a little. But in the end, the same issues that are inherent in being a company of that size are still going to be there.

Re:To be replaced by...? (2, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 4 years ago | (#33031362)

A new CEO might excite the board and top investors a little, perhaps shuffle some HR/management policies around a little. But in the end, the same issues that are inherent in being a company of that size are still going to be there.

You're right, of course, but remember that CEO hiring and firing decisions at huge companies are made by people who believe, or claim to believe, that top-level executives actually do meaningful work.

Re:To be replaced by...? (0, Offtopic)

ooh456 (122890) | more than 4 years ago | (#33030406)

They should replace Ballmer with the guy who's running the Taliban in Afghanistan. I hear they're doing well lately.

It's not just Ballmer (2, Insightful)

Tibor the Hun (143056) | more than 4 years ago | (#33030448)

You're right, it's not just Ballmer, the whole company is a behemoth, and overall can't move the needle fast enough.
But if they were to split the search, xbox, and phone and concentrate on just OS and Office, they'd have a chance for some rapid movement.
But what do I know.
I do know that Ballmer should stop taking marketing and PR advice from Spongebob, and run his ass around a block a few times.

Re:It's not just Ballmer (2, Insightful)

Thinboy00 (1190815) | more than 4 years ago | (#33030674)

There's a problem there:
OS: What's to concentrate on? They've got like 90%+ of the market.
Office:It's way to late [wikipedia.org] , given that OOo doesn't require re-training and Office 2007 (or whichever) does.

Re:It's not just Ballmer (1)

Thinboy00 (1190815) | more than 4 years ago | (#33030708)

s/way to/way too/

Re:It's not just Ballmer (4, Interesting)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 4 years ago | (#33030750)

Office:It's way to late, given that OOo doesn't require re-training and Office 2007 (or whichever) does.

No wonder nobody bought Office 2007/2010... wait, that's not what happened at all.

Microsoft's produced enough legitimate gaffes and failures to laugh at in the last ten years -- you don't need to try to will a new one into being through extreme wishful thinking.

Re:It's not just Ballmer (1)

Eponymous Coward (6097) | more than 4 years ago | (#33030940)

Do you really think OpenOffice from Oracle has a brighter future than Office from Microsoft?

How much training do you think people actually get for running office apps? Perhaps 10 years ago people would get training, but not so much anymore.

Have you ever received formal training for running Office or any other productivity app?

Steve Jobs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33030468)

Just to watch geeks' heads explode all over the world.

Re:Steve Jobs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33031040)

As if Steve Jobs will live another 5 years .. right.

Re:To be replaced by...? (1)

Exitar (809068) | more than 4 years ago | (#33030584)

"There's just not any growth left in MS's core competencies, and at least they're trying new stuff, even if the results are pretty embarrassing most of the time."

For a company of such size, they failed way too much in the new stuff they tried (Zune, Playforsure, Live Search, Vista, Kin...).
One could simply think that they're quite unable to come with something both new (or copied) and successful.

Re:To be replaced by...? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 4 years ago | (#33030602)

I'm hardly a Ballmer fan, but what could he have done substantially differently?

The three most obvious, from a commercial point of view, are probably (a) avoiding the whole Vista fiasco, (b) handling the release of the new Office UI better, and (c) not running so many loss-making divisions in the name of diversification.

Microsoft are in the business of making operating systems and office software, two products that almost everyone with a computer uses at some point. There is plenty that could be done to help people using these products to work more efficiently or enjoyably. That could legitimately drive both paid upgrades and, potentially, sales of back-end software and on-line services that support collaboration using those client-side tools.

But Microsoft aren't doing those things. They've had a catastrophic release for each of their main products, and in doing so, they have managed to kill the automatic upgrade cycle that has been their cash cow for a decade or more, with corporate IT types now seriously questioning why they should pay the Microsoft Tax and possibly upgrade their hardware as well every time a new release of Windows or Office comes along.

Not innovating merely requires laziness, but not innovating and killing a tried and tested business model that all but runs itself and has been successful for years? That requires serious talent at executive level, and the buck stops with the CEO.

Re:To be replaced by...? (4, Insightful)

Skuld-Chan (302449) | more than 4 years ago | (#33031254)

Also - not that I was a big fan of the Kin, they really shouldn't have let it die in a fire like they did 48 days after launch for largely petty political reasons. When you ship a product - you stand by that product and make it the best possible no matter what.

The reason why is because doing anything else makes customers lose trust in your brand. Example - plenty of people probably can't imagine getting a Windows 7 phone at this point for fear they'll drop it as well or it won't be supported after 2 months.

Yeah one could argue they shouldn't have released it, but they did green light it and should have dealt with it better.

Re:To be replaced by...? (4, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | more than 4 years ago | (#33030638)

he also managed the Xbox and that worked out pretty well.

Except for losing out to the Wii, having a... what is it? 55% failure rate?

I'm not sure that many of them can be traced back to Ballmer.

When your in charge, lots of things trace indirectly back to you. Who did you hire, and who did you fire? Who didn't you hire, and who didn't you fire? What guidance did you give to your management team, and what guidance didn't you give? It's not just "What could he have done to make Windows/Office markets grow?" but "What other business opportunities did he fail to capitalize on while sitting on Windows/Office?" It's a whole wide world out there, with loads of opportunities.

I'm not saying that Ballmer is bad at his job. I honestly don't know enough to say, really, except from my perception of how Microsoft is doing. However, if you think Microsoft isn't doing as well as it should, then I think you have a hard time not blaming Balmer a little. He's in charge. If it's someone else's fault, he should have fired that person and replaced them.

Re:To be replaced by...? (1)

dzfoo (772245) | more than 4 years ago | (#33030802)

>> It's a whole wide world out there, with loads of opportunities.

Oh, there's a lot of opportunities if you know when to take them, you know?
if there aren't you can make them--make or break them.

Money.

Re:To be replaced by...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33031166)

having a... what is it? 55% failure rate?

Closer to 15. Still not good, but the 54.2 estimate is a joke.

Re:To be replaced by...? (4, Funny)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 4 years ago | (#33031216)

Except for losing out to the Wii, having a... what is it? 55% failure rate?

Look, I'm trying hard to think of MS products that aren't widely ridiculed. That's kind of a short list, and I'll thank you to work with me on this difficult project.

Re:To be replaced by...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33030666)

It's not so much what he actually has or hasn't done, I think it's more about the image. Ballmer has a poor image (even if profits are up) and that makes stockholders nervous. I've seen plenty of cases where two presentors get up in front of an audience and hand out the same info, but the audience will love one guy and hate the order. Ballmer is the guy everyone loves to hate.

Re:To be replaced by...? (1)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 4 years ago | (#33030668)

sure, but he also managed the Xbox and that worked out pretty well.

Did it? The entertainment division lost money last quarter. Has the Xbox actually made a net profit over its lifetime? By that, have the total profits on the Xbox paid for the total losses incurred over the years taking into account the cost of money?

The intent was to get the Xbox into the living room as an entertainment center. How's that working out?

Re:To be replaced by...? (1)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 4 years ago | (#33030826)

The intent was to get the Xbox into the living room as an entertainment center. How's that working out?

I'd say for the time in which Netflix was streaming on XBox and not yet on PS3/Wii, that was a pretty big coup in that department -- although I can't point to another one, and now the competitors have caught up.

Even when Microsoft actually does something new right, they can't seem to build any momentum off it. Whether that's in part Ballmer's fault or not I'm not sure.

Re:To be replaced by...? (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#33030944)

Sidestepping out of reality and into my own little world for a moment, this is one of the things that really bothers me about business.

The 360 HAS been succesful. Look at the various services it offers...Netflix streaming, gaming, zune streaming....and look at some of the exclusives on it. Shadow Complex, Limbo, 'Splosion Man, I Made a Game with Zombies in it, Geometry Wars Evolved, Fable II, Mass Effect 1 and 2 (counts due to being a Microsoft exclusive)...tons of games that have been cemented permanently in gaming culture.

So, realistically (i.e. from a business perspective) the 360 has been a failure. Culturally, it has been a sucess.

PS: I'm not a fanboy...I own consoles from every major company in the last 20 years, including Atari, Nintendo, Sega, Sony, Microsoft, etc. I'm simply focusing on Microsoft in this particular post.

Re:To be replaced by...? (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#33030712)

To say that Microsoft is trying new stuff is like getting your kids to eat Vegetables. Every one of their new products has been based off of something in their competitions line up - and the embarassing part is that the product ends up being WORSE than the competitor's somehow.

It's because Microsoft has been trying to mimick other companies. Apple has enough fanboys that it can produce a faulty product and still make money (See iPhone4), Microsoft however, doesn't have that kind of following behind it. Nobody is die hard Microsoft through and through so much that they would never try a droid.

If Ballmer is to be replaced, it should be by someone who will do 3 things:
Keep the focus on the PC. Windows 7 is nice, and is the OS that vista should have been, only a couple years late.
Develop an above average mobile OS. For someone with their size and their development team, its surprising that they lack in this regard. Every WinMobile release has been slow, laggy, and terribly designed.
Fix the entertainment budget somehow, without axing it. I don't know if its true or not, but I hear the 360 and it's market are not profitable, and are actually losing Microsoft money. I don't know if thats true, I don't know why'd they continue if it were, but it'd be nice if that made enough money to continue its growth.

Question is whether Ballmer can stop pushing products like Zune quick enough to not get outted.

Re:To be replaced by...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33030772)

What has Microsoft done under Ballmer that could be considered a success.

Microsoft have invested heavily in the search business but have lost billions and continue to lose money without having any major impact on the market.

Microsoft's share of the smartphone operating system market has dropped from about 70% to 15%.

Far from "working out pretty well" and the first Xbox lost $5.5billion. The 360 is now making quarterly profits but is still in the red overall and at the current sales rate of the PS3 and 360 is set to finish in last place. Most investors want Microsoft to get out of consumer electronics completely and focus on software.

The Zune has failed to register.

Even in software their new products have failed badly and few people even know about things like Microsoft Expression Studio despite there being four versions over five years.

They're basically just living of the Windows and Office monopoly and everything else they do is a failure. XP still has over twice the number of users of Vista and 7 combined and early sales of Office 2010 have been "disappointing" according to NPD so things aren't exactly rosy in their two key monopolies.

As to what he could have done substantially differently I think the answer is anything but what he has been doing. He hasn't delivered a single success in the time he's been running the company but has delivered a multitude of failures.

Re:To be replaced by...? (3, Insightful)

rev_sanchez (691443) | more than 4 years ago | (#33030858)

They're being compared against Apple and that comparison is not going well for Microsoft. That isn't 100% fair as Microsoft's history of being primarily a software producer doesn't match up well with Apple's history of producing quite a lot of hardware but they're the 2 platform giants of personal computing and Microsoft has been throwing it's hat in the hardware arena lately.

Right now they seem intent on making poor copies of Apple's previous generation of products (Zune/iPod, Zune HD/iPod Touch, Zune Market Place/iTunes, Vista/OS X) and there's every sign that their Windows 7 phone software will follow the same pattern against the iPhone.

What they do have is business buy-in as the OS that runs all of their niche business apps on cheapish hardware but if cloud computing takes off and web apps become the norm for business then the winner will be Google because they're already pretty good at it and Microsoft is again playing catch-up.

Microsoft doesn't need more developers, it needs designers focused on the user experience and the next generation of personal computing. That's tough to do when your best customers are business who don't want the cost of teaching their users a new UI but if Microsoft doesn't do something they are in for the same slow, steady decline.

Re:To be replaced by...? (2, Interesting)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 4 years ago | (#33030896)

I think the fact that Ballmer bad PR is a big thing.

Early Microsoft it got Bill Gates who was considered the Wiz Kid who made it. The public liked it, and was willing to excuse any of Gates misspeaks as he was so young.

Then he got older and the general public (Sans the SlashDot and people who had interests in competitors) still like and respected Microsoft as it offered affordable software (Remember when Windows cost only $100).

Gates Jump ship when Microsoft was starting to suffer Gates wasn't the darling child anymore with the new Wiz Kids at Google, and Apple starting to come up with good products again.

Now with Balmer, he was generally a PR nightmare. His style is much like a 1980's infomercial which tries to get the crowd railed up, much like a cheerleader.

Microsoft needs a CEO who is much better at PR, who can Spin the Evil like Jobs does. And make us like Microsoft because we want to not because we are forced to.

Re:To be replaced by...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33031378)

Microsoft needs a CEO who is much better at PR, who can Spin the Evil like Jobs does. And make us like Microsoft because we want to not because we are forced to.

Tony Hayward?

Re:To be replaced by...? (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 4 years ago | (#33031116)

I'm hardly a Ballmer fan, but what could he have done substantially differently? In my opinion, he inherited a pig with no obvious roadmap to future gains.

Well, you could say the same of Apple when Steve Jobs came back. Actually Apple was in a more tenuous position when he took over. While many slashdotters might not like Apple products, Jobs (and I mean he led the effort as CEO) took the company from the brink of bankruptcy to surpass MS in market cap. He revitalized their core computer business and expanded into new product lines. All the while, Apple is also hugely profitable while expanding into new markets.

He managed over the Kin debacle, sure, but he also managed the Xbox and that worked out pretty well.

As a geek, I like the Xbox. As an investor, I would not as the Xbox has actually cost the company $7-8 billion in debt.

Re:To be replaced by...? (1)

bigBlackSabbath (462796) | more than 4 years ago | (#33031206)

Is this Steve Balmer's fake account? Xbox a success? Not if you evaluate its impact on the stock (little profit == no big deal).

I think the issue is in there: core competencies. Yes, they've pushed their core competencies as far as they can. That's NOT the issue. The problem is he has not been able to extend them into anything else which can contribute meaningful profits. Phones: no. Gaming: no. Internet properties: no.

They're locked into a slow death march to irrelevance as the world changes around them, and they know it. That's the idea behind reinventing themselves with things like Azure, Kin, Xbox, etc.. I don't know about Azure's impact on profits, but I'd argue it's closer to their core competencies than the rest. The rest may be nice products or clunkers -- it doesn't matter because they're not gaining significant profits.

That is what Ballmer should have been able to accomplish: growing teams which can succeed at expanding Microsoft's core competencies. He's got teams, but those teams have been largely ineffective in terms of adding to the bottom line.

They can't use the excuse of "we got into this business before this stuff seemed dated" excuse 20 years ago to justify their state of suspended animation. If they don't change in 20 years, they'll look more and more like a time capsule from the 1990's (which they kind of already do).

Re:To be replaced by...? (3, Interesting)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 4 years ago | (#33031246)

Well lets take a look.
XBOX 360. Huge hardware problems. Huge charge to fix the problems. Slow in replacing the hardware.
Zune. What??? The original version had wifi but it was crippled by the RIAA. Microsoft played buddy buddy with the RIAA trying to get them to side with Microsoft vs Apple media player market.
The result was a media player that could have had some brilliant features being a bland second or third place device.
The ZuneHD is a really good media player. Maybe the best high end media player on the market... Who wants a high end media player today? Most people want a smart phone or an iPod touch which is really more of a PDA/Gaming device than a pure media player.

Window Mobile, Windows Phone, and the Kin.
The Kin is really a tragedy. It had some interesting hardware. It had some nice and really innovative features. It was killed.
It was killed by the company and by stupidity. Really folks what where you thinking. Twitter didn't work. No real app store. Smartphone data prices.
You can not blame Verizon. They are very invested in the Droid name and why not push kids to a Smart phone if you can. The Kin would eat up a ton of bandwidth streaming and uploading video so why put on the network for cheap.
Windows Mobile? How long did Microsoft have to get out a good version of it after the iPhone came out? Windows Mobile was just really left to sit and rot much like Palm OS. It predates the iPhone but never really inspired much love. It was frankly more of a hackers OS than Android was. People where cooking up custom roms, skins, and apps all over the place for it.
But it just never really worked all that well.
And now Windows Phone 7.... Yea Android, iPhone, and frankly even WebOS will have more apps available for them than WP7 will at launch.
All the old WinMo users will be kind of left out in the cold. WP7 doesn't run their old apps but worry not because WM is staying around for also!!!!

Even Bing is a bit of flop. Does anyone use it?
What about Microsoft Money? Is there an online version?

Don't forget the disaster that was Vista. Which frankly really helped Apple a lot.

Right now Microsoft is paying the price for having a terrible mobile strategy.
Things are going to get worse. Moblin is now going to really start to challenge CE in the automotive informatics space.
WP7 if it is anything less than an iPhone style smash will be seen as a total failure.
Office sales are lack luster because Office has reached good enough long ago ,OpenOffice.org is free, and Google Docs has a lot of buzz going for it.
Even outlook and exchange are going to feel the pinch from web mail soon if they have no already.

We do seem to be coming to the point where for a lot of people the browser is the OS. Even their you have FireFox and Chrome really taking a bite out of IE and practically nobody is going to make "Best viewed in IE" sites anymore.

Microsoft maybe in the same position as Wright Aircraft Engines was in the late 1940s early 1950s. The president was sure that they wold be making the R3350 motors forever. Or maybe DEC in the late 70s?
Things are changing and they are not.

Re:To be replaced by...? (1)

JasoninKS (1783390) | more than 4 years ago | (#33031300)

You really hit the nail on the head. There are only so many bells & whistles you can add to Office, and most users don't use 90% of what's in there anyway. They seem to be playing a lot of "Me too!" when it comes to Windows. Their biggest failures come when they try to be a hardware company. XBox version 1? Red ring o' death. Kin? Huge flop. Mobile devices? Stagnant. I see two huge anchors weighing on Microsoft. Backwards compatibility & users refusal to upgrade. I can still run 15+ year old versions of programs on their newest OS. Keeping the ability to run ancient software has got to be adding bloat to Windows. And too many users are stuck in a "what I've got is good enough" mentality. Geez, they just finally cut off support for Win 2000? And Win XP will be supported way past its' prime. Apple's got a big plus in their corner. They control both their own software & their own hardware. Microsoft is dependent on whatever hardware someone else puts out.

An idea (4, Funny)

Antony T Curtis (89990) | more than 4 years ago | (#33030282)

They could always ask Steve Jobs if he would be CEO of Microsoft. It worked out great for Apple...

Re:An idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33030510)

No they should ask John Sculley, and then let him fire Ballmer.

Re:An idea (4, Funny)

MouseR (3264) | more than 4 years ago | (#33030934)

Balmer at MS also worked out well for Apple. And Linux. I say we keep him there.

Re:An idea (1)

nickdwaters (1452675) | more than 4 years ago | (#33031388)

Dammit. I was going to post that.

chair (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33030322)

Just throw a chair at him. He will leave.

Fair point: he's been a big fat howling failure (2, Insightful)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#33030332)

Sure, they still own the desktop, and the Office markets by default and by leveraging their monopoly (I'm sure legally now), but everything else they've touched has been at best break-even, and at worst a colossal money sink.

Zune and Kin were a laughing stock, they're having to give away Windows ME (or whatever they're calling it these days) phones, they're paying people to use Bing, IE is losing market share, XBox has finally broken even just in time to start sinking more money into developing the next version. Hotmail is a has been, Silverlight is a wannabe, and C# / .NET is just about tying developers into Windows, not about attracting anyone who's currently using Java anywhere else.

I really can't think of any new revenue sources that have come along in the Ballmer era. If all he's doing is treading water, then they might as well pay peanuts to a chimp - it'll shriek and gibber and fling chairs just as well as Uncle Fester.

Re:Fair point: he's been a big fat howling failure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33030574)

Zune and Kin were a laughing stock

The Zune's only a laughing stock to people that have never used it. Try actually using it for a few days, especially with Zune Pass, and you too will wonder why the iPod is so popular.

Re:Fair point: he's been a big fat howling failure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33031368)

I used to own a first-gen Zune. It was a beautiful device, in and of itself it was far superior to the iPods of the time, but having to boot into a Windows VM or partition to sync songs to it kinda killed it for me.

Also, I don't care what anybody says - the original Zune looked great in brown w/ green trim. To those who disagree, try actually holding one and looking at it in actual three dimensions

Re:Fair point: he's been a big fat howling failure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33030716)

and C# / .NET is just about tying developers into Windows, not about attracting anyone who's currently using Java anywhere else.

Eh, I really don't want C# to attract retards who can't see how better it is than Java when developing for Windows. Thanks.

Re:Fair point: he's been a big fat howling failure (1)

Thinboy00 (1190815) | more than 4 years ago | (#33030732)

Zune is ancient; Ballmer inherited it, right?

Re:Fair point: he's been a big fat howling failure (2, Funny)

allometry (840925) | more than 4 years ago | (#33030880)

I get it. Trolling Microsoft is instant karma bucks on /. But seriously, you're talking out of your ass if you believe "C# / .NET" is just about tying developers into Windows. It's about getting shit done for your client!

Re:Fair point: he's been a big fat howling failure (1, Insightful)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 4 years ago | (#33031188)

You can "get shit done" in C++ too you know. Plus you don't have to worry about which version of .SHIT your client needs to install before it'll work.

Re:Fair point: he's been a big fat howling failure (1)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 4 years ago | (#33031292)

You can "get shit done" in C++ too you know.

Sure can, and sometimes you should. But that doesn't mean it's the best tool for every task.

Plus you don't have to worry about which version of .SHIT your client needs to install before it'll work.

I assume you're trolling, but that's a much more trivial problem to address as a developer than, say, memory leaks in C++. (Which is itself a fixable problem -- but still a less trivial one.)

Re:Fair point: he's been a big fat howling failure (1)

colinrichardday (768814) | more than 4 years ago | (#33030920)

Hotmail is a has been

I am a hotmail user, you insensitive clod!

Re:Fair point: he's been a big fat howling failure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33030950)

but everything else they've touched has been at best break-even, and at worst a colossal money sink.

Which is why every division in the company (Save Internet Services... read "Bing", which has grown market share every month this year, no small feat) is turning a profit, right?

Re:Fair point: he's been a big fat howling failure (1)

timholman (71886) | more than 4 years ago | (#33031038)

I really can't think of any new revenue sources that have come along in the Ballmer era. If all he's doing is treading water, then they might as well pay peanuts to a chimp - it'll shriek and gibber and fling chairs just as well as Uncle Fester.

And as a bonus, the chimp would fling its feces at competitors and members of the press, at no extra charge!

Re:Fair point: he's been a big fat howling failure (5, Interesting)

bravecanadian (638315) | more than 4 years ago | (#33031068)

Zune and Kin were a laughing stock, they're having to give away Windows ME (or whatever they're calling it these days) phones, they're paying people to use Bing, IE is losing market share, XBox has finally broken even just in time to start sinking more money into developing the next version. Hotmail is a has been, Silverlight is a wannabe, and C# / .NET is just about tying developers into Windows, not about attracting anyone who's currently using Java anywhere else.

I really can't think of any new revenue sources that have come along in the Ballmer era. If all he's doing is treading water, then they might as well pay peanuts to a chimp - it'll shriek and gibber and fling chairs just as well as Uncle Fester.

Zune and Kin were warmups for their new mobile launchs.

Xbox has finally broken even and has gone from nothing to the best console for revenue. And because of all those Xbox live subscription now they just need to sit back and keep doing what they are doing and make a pile of money off it. As far as the new generation of console.. Nintendo and Sony have to sink the same sort of resources into new ones as well so I'm not sure how that figures as a disadvantage to Microsoft.

If there have been no new revenue sources during Ballmers era then how do you explain Microsoft's revenue doubling in the last 8 years? I can tell you one product that has developed into a billion dollar business off the top of my head: Sharepoint.

I know everyone here is anti Microsoft but the fact is they are still a very viable company and they have the resources to get things wrong 5 times until they get the formula right and then they just keep going.

Re:Fair point: he's been a big fat howling failure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33031072)

C# / .NET is just about tying developers into Windows

I'll try to remember that while I'm enjoying Steam games on my Mac that were quickly ported thanks to .NET and Mono.

I don't like.... (1)

Torodung (31985) | more than 4 years ago | (#33031268)

I don't like the slant of the last part of your post.

--
Toro

OK.... (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 4 years ago | (#33030422)

If asked, I'm willing to serve.

Will he be replaced? No. (5, Insightful)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 4 years ago | (#33030504)

Stock is a LOUSY indication of a CEO's performance. Even the article itself makes this clear, earnings went up together with profits, yet stock price went down.

The stock market is about emotion and it seems to be run by 12yr old boys. "OMG the MS did notzers hve 9 trillion winnezers, SELLORS!" This is after all the stock market that gave billions in value to web companies that gave things away for free and refused to buy stocks in decades old companies with reliable safe markets.

Ballmer, as much as I despise the guy, is the CEO MS has to have. Yes, MS COULD try to be an Apple, but it can't. No Zune team, the problem ain't Ballmer, the problem is YOU! The MS staff, those 100.000 people who couldn't come up with an original thought if it bid them on the ass because you are to busy watching the stock market.

Just as a dog reflects its owner, a CEO reflects his company. MS is the boring spreadsheet maker. It can't do an iPod or indeed a PS3. Little Big Planet could NEVER have been a MS project. Simply doesn't fit. Why do you think MS bought up so many game companies and then sold them again? They try to buy the color they lack only to find everything turning gray in their hands. They got the midas touch, expect that everything turns to lead. And lead sells very well indeed. But it ain't sexy.

MS can't ever be sexy, it is not its role in life. IBM isn't sexy either and it does very well because of it. If you want sexy, you go to Sun... and yes that Sun has been bought up says a LOT about how well sexy works. If you want a boring reliable server, you go IBM.

And if you want to outfit 10000 workplaces with an OS/productivity solution, you go MS.

The Zune and Windows Mobile are side excercises, they may someday result in a profit on their own but the cash cows remain Windows and Office and nothing has changed under Ballmers leadership. It is just that in the stock market, improving your earnings and profits results in a lower stock price because you didn't give all your money away and hope to make it up in bulk.

Re:Will he be replaced? No. (4, Insightful)

Asic Eng (193332) | more than 4 years ago | (#33030756)

No Zune team, the problem ain't Ballmer, the problem is YOU! The MS staff, those 100.000 people who couldn't come up with an original thought if it bid them on the ass because you are to busy watching the stock market.

Well, if a single programmer doesn't succeed, then it might well be his own fault. If a whole development team fails to achieve results, you might want to look at the managment structure - wrong hiring strategy, unrealistic goals, poor planning, are likely candidates. If the whole company has a bad culture - then you need to look at the people who are running the company. You don't get thousands of people conspiring to do a bad job, if their performance is bad in then there has to be a reason.

Apple vs. Microsoft No Longer Relevant (5, Insightful)

Slash.Poop (1088395) | more than 4 years ago | (#33030540)

One has a primary focus of SOFTWARE and secondary focus on GADGETS
One has a primary focus of GADGETS and secondary focus on SOFTWARE

Re:Apple vs. Microsoft No Longer Relevant (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#33030872)

Nah - it's just that Steve Ballmer needs to wear a black turtleneck

Paging Mr McBride (4, Funny)

Linker3000 (626634) | more than 4 years ago | (#33030576)

Mr Darl McBride to the white courtesy phone.


/A surreal moment

Re:Paging Mr McBride (1)

McNihil (612243) | more than 4 years ago | (#33030942)

No Darl that is the red phone. The white phone is right beside it.

Loosely from "Airplane!"

...in favor of someone better suited... (5, Funny)

starglider29a (719559) | more than 4 years ago | (#33030630)

Tony Hayward is available!

He's got the "right stuff".
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-07-26/leadership-tips-from-tony-hayward-or-not-.html [bloomberg.com]
  • Deny and minimize problems
  • Emphasize your own power and importance.
  • Make the story all about you
  • Never apologize, and don't even pretend to learn from your mistakes.
  • Hang onto your job even when it's clear you should go

And experience in negatively impacting an entire ecosystem. Perfect! (Also perfect that this article posted 14 minutes before the Slashdot article. ;-)

Re:...in favor of someone better suited... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33031400)

Sounds like Obama

How about they promote him (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 4 years ago | (#33030680)

to chaiman?

Re:How about they promote him (1)

Tibor the Hun (143056) | more than 4 years ago | (#33031346)

Dude....
I can not believe the amount of FAIL you packed in just two words.
That is a masterpiece.

A crazy man.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33030780)

I think that one of the differences Steve B could do would be to change his personality. He seems to have huge swings of emotion. Extremely angry or happy. (Running around yelling 'Developers', throwing chairs, etc help show this, among other things) If I worked for Microsoft (fortunately I don't, but I know a lot who do), I would feel embarrassed because of him. As for lack of vision, I agree. This is a person who basically says other stuff is crap, unless Microsoft has made it. He acts as if he is the smartest person in the world, but comes across as one of the dumbest. If Microsoft had a good leader, I think they could make some pretty good stuff.

Are you serious? (5, Interesting)

bravecanadian (638315) | more than 4 years ago | (#33030976)

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Despite what everyone on slashdot and idiot day traders say:

MSFT Revenue 2002: $28B Profit: $5B

MSFT Revenue 2010: $62B Profit: $18.7B

Yeah.. he's doing a horrible job. And obviously Microsoft can't do anything right and is only declining.

Seriously, how can anyone even begin to say that?

Re:Are you serious? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33031318)

Well, let's put this in perspective (as in, from the perspective of the people that you're complaining about):

1999 Trading stock price high: over 180, just before being declared a monopoly

2010 Trading stock price high: no where near 180; perhaps 35, with a bicycle pump and some extra headwind

People in the stock market biz do some dumb-ass things, and one of them is decoupling the profitability of the company from the trading price of its shares. Being CEO of a publicly traded company is more than just making your profit margins; it's also placating irate shareholders, you know, those people that actually dumped dollars into the company hoping to get a dividend (or even more of their infamous "two-for-one" stock splits)...frankly, from a stock market perspective, the company has been stagnant for a decade, with or without Ballmer's supposed mismanagement.

But if you're going to delve into numbers, please explain to me why all other divisions are loosing money, and why the OS/Office divisions are basically supporting the funding of those areas? I think the answer isn't Ballmer's leadership; rather, it's the enormous bloat of the company. The real answer for MS is to focus hard on their cash cows; and then, only after those cows are a-pump'n money into their coffers, only then should they have turned around and pushed out money-losers like Xbox and Kin.

Re:Are you serious? (1)

bravecanadian (638315) | more than 4 years ago | (#33031386)

Any serious investor knows that it is hard to grow a multi-billion dollar company at the same rate as a small and growing company.

Why do you think that Microsoft has been paying a dividend the last several years?

They are a mature company now and we aren't going to see the massive growth rates anymore simply because they are a BIG company.

This is the same reason Warren Buffett warned his investors that most likely Berkshire will beat the "average" growth of the stockmarket but that their big growing days (as a %) are more than likely over because of their sheer size.

Yes. It's just a question of when. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33030980)

Microsoft is still a profitable company. It's not like he's driven it into the ground. If shareholders are happy with collecting dividends rather than seeing share growth, then Ballmer could be around for a while. Apple and Microsoft are at two different points in their growth curves and comparing the two is a bit misleading. Now, the question of whether Microsoft could have done what Apple did and added the growth that Apple's seen is an interesting one. If they could have (and I think the xbox360 shows that they could have), then the question of why they didn't is interesting. And I think Ballmer is a big answer to that question. Thus, I expect him to go sooner than later but it is only indirectly related to Apple's market cap.

R. Lee Ermey for MS CEO (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33031212)

Probably the only guy that could out-Ballmer Ballmer.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TFNeBRc7W7s [youtube.com]

"...here you are all equally worthless! And my orders are to weed out all non-hackers who do not pack the gear to serve in my beloved Corps! Do you maggots understand that?"

.

And then? (1)

lennier1 (264730) | more than 4 years ago | (#33031252)

How will they decide the successor? A chair throwing contest???

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