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Steve Ballmer’s obituary

Steve Ballmer obituary

“Ta da!” Sadly the magic rabbit failed to materialize and the audience was peeved at him.

When Steve Ballmer came to the helm of Microsoft on that January morning in 2000 the IT market was one simple monolithic mass. Windows was everywhere on PCs, in government,in schools, in churches, in space,on planes and just about everywhere except perhaps on Linus Torvalds computer.Only James Bond had a smartphone. Even the Europeans were happy with Internet Explorer and everyone loved a Windows PC.

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Fast forward to today: PCs are getting rarer than swallows in wintertime as people everywhere switch to iPads and Android tablets. The cloud powered by Linux has taken over the rest of the Windows PC’s duties. Everyone has a smartphone and there is an iPhone and Android app for everything; there is even an app from God too (but then God has always been ahead, Moses received the ten commandments which were written on two tablets.) Now the Europeans hate Internet Explorer so much they fined Microsoft over a billion dollars for bundling it with Windows.Even Zimbabweans who have usually bought anything with a Windows sticker on it are converting to Android in their scores. It is no matter therefore that after 14 years Steve is heading for  the door.

For those of you who live in caves and so missed the news: Steve Ballmer has finally decided to call it a day at Microsoft,most probably he was acting on his psychiatrist’s advice. He will leave the company in about a year. A year is how long it will take to find a new CEO for the company.Being Microsoft’s CEO is depressing at the moment they will probably need each and every one those 365 days to cajole and hoodwink someone into taking the job.

During his reign Ballmer knew failure more than he did success and he will mostly be remembered for his failures; all his few successes conveniently forgotten. Instead of being known for  the Xbox, Azure,Windows XP and Windows 7 which were successes, when people hear Ballmer’s name they are quick to throw the failure of “Vista” and Windows 8 to his face. Such will be his legacy. His failures stemmed from his inaction rather than a failing of his own. He failed to recognise that the world is changing towards the tablets, smartphones and the cloud and only acted late in the game.

Sympathies aside the truth of the matter is that Steve Ballmer had to leave. His list of failure is endless:

  1. He failed to learn from his Vista mistakes and still cooked the poison that is Windows 8.

  2. His failed ventures into the smartphone and tablet market. Windows Phone has had limited success penetrating the market with only about 10% market share in a market which is dominated by the iOS-Android duopoly.Their Surface Tablet has been on the receiving end of many a scathing review and customers are not exactly queuing for it either. They recently had to deduct $900 million as “inventory adjustments” for their Tablet. It is telling that Microsoft has decided to develop a good number of apps by itself.

  3. Microsoft’s online failures have been going on for a while now. Bing and Windows Maps have had to play second fiddle to Google Search and Maps for a long time in terms of usage. Hotmail is dead and the Outlook.com initiative may well be a bit too late and there are the somewhat limited successes of SkyDrive, WebApps, MSN etc and Microsoft Ads are nowhere near as popular as Google Ads. The PC business has been subsidising the on-line business which has been making losses.

  4. People hate him so much, Microsoft shares rose by 6% when he announced his impending retirement. Ironically he made a cool $786 million from the market by essentially firing himself.

  5. The only growing PC market is in developing countries like Zimbabwe yet Microsoft adamantly wants to sell their products at prices as much as $350 in countries where people live on  less than  $1 a day.

At the moment Microsoft finds itself in a watershed moment; a kind of limbo Apple found itself in for a long time in the 90s when they were not doing bad but not doing exactly great either. I have this suspicion in me that Microsoft’s Chairman, William “Bill” Gates, chose Steve to be the next CEO simply because his name was Steve after observing the successes of Steve Jobs at Apple.

What Microsoft needs now is a “A Hail Mary!” or a guy who can pull a rabbit out of his hat not a CEO. It has been a while since they have done anything innovative. They have even stopped racing the competition. Where is their own  WinWatch,where are their WinGoggles to compete with Google Glass,  they have no WinFiber or WinLoon to compete with Google Fiber and Google Loon.They are so afraid of another Vista they are dead, immobilized by their caution.They need a Steve Jobs, a young fresh mind, that is innovative and is not afraid to fail. Someone to shoo away that jinx. Steve Ballmer was not that man.

To be fair the world IT market is very different from the Bill Gates days when Microsoft were the undisputed leaders. There are alternatives in the form of tablets and smartphones. The Global Financial crisis happened and people are not as generous as they used to be with their PC budgets and the importance of an Operating System has diminished since the emergence of the cloud. It is cold out there on the IT market, but surely Steve could have done it better.

RIP Steve Ballmer 2000- Sometime in 2014

We will miss your ability to sell Wind.


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23 thoughts on “Steve Ballmer’s obituary

    1. you say that like it’s some kind of bad thing, lol ….every person with eyes and a brain is anti-microsoft lol 🙂

  1. Bill Gates’ shoes were a little large for anyone to fill. Inasmuch as I don’t like Microsoft Steve Balmer was (still is) not a bad CEO. Not the greatest, but definitely not bad.

    If no one remembers Bill Gates for the abomination that was Windows Millennium Edition, why should they remember Vista?

    1. I agree with you. I have great respect for what Microsoft is and how Bill Gates got it there, but Steve Balmer wasnt the best at the helm. He made too many assumptions about the market and r…e…a..c..t…e…d too slow.

      By extension, Windows 8 is another horrible creature in the office environment. Without classic shell, I’d have quit coz am forced to use this thing. Touch-based interaction on a desktop? Apps and Programs? WTF?

      Anyways, am looking forward to the upcoming release. What I and many expected was that Windows 8, Millenium and Vista are precursors to better products. More like expensive R & D prototypes.

        1. Unfortunately, the XBox is yet to break even; Microsoft is still losing money on it. Someday it will be profitable. I do salute their tenacity, patience & willingness to throw lots of money to compete with Sony (with XBox) and Google (with Bing).

      1. utter BS …Gates handpicked Baldmer, and was Chairman of M$ the entire time he was CEO. IF Baldfool was anything he was a stooge for the TRUE fool, Gates (who’s belief in such BS as ‘metaprogramming’ models and ‘stack ranking’ systems would make any first year Business student laugh out loud.

    2. dont be hating on Windows ME bro, it was and still is my fav OS of all time. it taught me alot about blue screens, fatal exceptions, hanging processes and a whole lot of rebooting techniques. its the reason why i moved to linux ..or at least took an interest in redhat linux back then 🙂

  2. More like Steve Bummer (tongue in cheek), almost a billion for retiring, the market is very generous to some.

  3. one of those slow-news-day articles. author tried to be funny, but the author’s definitely not in Gringo’s league. more like Vharazipi.

  4. “The other version of the story is the lesser told of the two. Microsoft more than tripled its annual revenue under Ballmer, from $22 billion annually when he took over to $78 billion when he announced his departure. It was with Ballmer at the helm that Microsoft also began to embrace the cloud, launching successful online services and platforms like Office 365 and Azure, and purchasing compelling technologies and companies like Skype and Yammer. Microsoft’s negligible market share in search grew to 30 percent through clever maneuvers like securing all of Yahoo and Facebook’s search traffic. Microsoft also secured the only corporate investment ever made in Facebook. Under Ballmer, Microsoft even began to embrace open source and other competing platforms.”…On Skydrive, check on most iOS and Android devices, it remains the widely used cloud storage solution after Dropbox, show me one person who uses iCloud or Google Drive at all…as of Outlook.com, your facts are wrong it has 420 million active users a mere 5 million behind GMail’s 425 million so that’s hardly a failure at all.

    Android is the most widely OS on mobile devices but, lets be honest now, right now you’re reading this article on your Windows PC and this Post-PC BS is all hogwash for people who think you can replace a PC with a 7 inch toy as a productivity tool, yes there are more tablet sales than PC sales but that doesn’t mean they are replacing their PC with tablets but only extending how they consume content.

    I do agree Microsoft has had a couple of misses but it’s not going anywhere anytime soon, so please get your facts right..Apple hasn’t brought new innovations since Steve Jobs died, oh they did actually..patent trolling

    1. “Android is the most widely OS on mobile devices but, lets be honest now,
      right now you’re reading this article on your Windows PC…”

      Comparing mobile & desktop is like comparing apples with oranges. Two different markets. Microsoft’s mistake was reacting too slow to that market and then messing it up by merging the desktop and mobile(touch-based) platform IN one… the abomination that is Windows 8.

      Thank goodness they came to their 8.1 and early indications are that Windows is back in the game for the office market. I am yet to come across an enterprise that deployed Windows 8 in its current horrid form.

      “Apple hasn’t brought new innovations since Steve Jobs died, oh they did actually..patent trolling”

      Steve Jobs WAS THE PATENT TROLL, what-u-talking about? Unless you are living a life in reverse there is no way you can say patent trolling came after Steve Jobs. It came in excess WITH HIM. He was relentlessly and unapologetic in his pursuit of patenting each and every bit of his(Apple’s) devices and their functionality.

      If anything, there havent been any major patent battles since his death.

      Otherwise, I do agree that iOS has stagnated. What more can they be? We shall see in the coming launch

    2. Well said, after seeing the title and author it was obvious how the piece would be written. Microsoft is far from going bust, they still make ludicrous profits and have not lost any of their core business (windows and office in the enterprise).
      Their failure is to totally dominate new markets like they did the old, but is it reasonable to expect the same company to strike a revolution every time. Just look at apple it has done very little in the way of innovation since the ipod, iphone and ipad (which are all essentially just IOS). Once a company becomes massively successful it cant be as nimble, it has to devote massive resources to supporting existing products and has to resist any change that would impact their existing user base. Apple was an example of this when they dropped old OS 9 and before and started afresh with 10, they could only do this cos they had a very small user base and had nothing really to lose. Android is already showing signs of stagnating (from an innovation stand point) and google glass is looking niche. It is highly likely the next big thing will be from someone else not Apple, Google or MS. Any of them to strike the next big thing every time is unlikely.
      Sure Ballmer has had some big failures in mobile, tablets, vista etc and MS is not as big as it could be, but it is still massively successful in far more markets than any other IT company from windows to office to xbox to .net to databases to sharepoint to bing to azure to outlook to visual studio to iis etc etc etc.
      One of the hardest jobs in business is taking over and running a company that has risen to massive heights quickly. The burden of expectation is huge while a the same time the costs of support and maintenance that were never there during the growth phase are massive. Tim Cook is finding out about this right now, don’t be surprised if his retirement is treated with as much glee even though he has made apple more profitable than it was under jobs.

      1. This was about Ballmer and Microsoft not about Microsoft per se. I did not say MS is going bust, I merely pointed out the latest financial results are not good. I could go on about accounting ratios and revenue analysis but this is a tech website so my hands were tired. I doubt most geeks would read it anyway but you should know something is amiss at Redmond, all their hyped about online services made a loss, their surface tablet took a 900 million chunk of their profit ( it was actually a loss in the guise in the form of inventory adjustments.)

        I could also go on about the famed innovator’s dilemma but you can Google this if you want. As for the popularity of Windows mentioned by @tinm you should know that even Ballmer himself has said that there is a stagnation in the PC market. The only expansion is coming from developing countries of which Zimbabwe is one. I bought the PC I am using a year ago and even if it has Windows on it Microsoft is not making money from it, I already own the license so if the world market for PCs has stagnated very little money stands to be made. In fact the argument that Windows is the most popular OS and Tablets are nothing was made by Steve Ballmer himself sometime ago to justify MS’s unwillingness to enter the market just look what they got them.

      2. your attempt to rewrite history is verry funny, but your obvious MS butthurt is WAAAAYYY funnier …I guess you are like five years old or something, right??! 😀

    3. you should go learn what patent trolling means LOL, …and maybe a little about computers and technology while you are there, you might embarrass yourself less 🙂

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