Strategic CIO // Executive Insights & Innovation
News
4/26/2014
09:06 AM
Rob Preston
Rob Preston
Slideshows
Connect Directly
LinkedIn
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Top 10 Secret Reasons Microsoft CEO Ballmer Retired

Steve Ballmer didn't get the credit he deserved, as evidenced by Microsoft's strong financial position when he resigned. Here are 10 reasons you've never heard about why he stepped down.
Previous
1 of 11
Next

(Source: Wikimedia Commons)

I'm going to stick my neck out here and say that former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who retired in February, didn't get the credit he deserved during his extraordinary 34-year career at Microsoft. While he was CEO from 2000 to 2014, the company generated an astounding $120 billion in profits and shifted its strategic focus and much of its market-leading software to the cloud. As of the beginning of the year, Microsoft was sitting on $84 billion in cash and cash equivalents. No small feat.

Microsoft's financial report on Thursday shows some of the big chinks in that armor -- a soft Windows business and a flailing Windows Phone business among them. But the fact that the company's stock is now trading near its 52-week high indicates that investors think Ballmer left a still-solid foundation for new CEO Satya Nadella to build upon.

Yes, Microsoft is way behind iOS and Android in mobile computing, remains an also-ran in search, is losing the browser wars to Firefox and Chrome, and is off to a very slow start with its Surface tablets. But it can't dominate every market in an age of rapid digital innovation and disruption. And while all of Microsoft's traditional strongholds -- Windows, Office, SharePoint, Exchange, SQL Server -- are under threat, that's the nature of the software business. It's worth noting that its SQL Server, System Center, Windows Server Premium, and Lync businesses grew by double digits last quarter, while its Azure cloud business grew 150%, thanks largely to the early success of Office 365.

Microsoft has managed a deft evolution in most of its core products (with the exception of Windows), and Nadella is now looking to tie them together under a strategy he calls "ambient intelligence." The goal: Make it easier for users at companies of all sizes to pull data from their Microsoft stores, as well as from sensors, social networks, server logs, and other third-party sources, to make more-informed decisions.

As for Ballmer, I hope he and his wife are enjoying their $20 billion in wealth and turning more of their attention to philanthropy now that he's retired. I had the privilege of interviewing Ballmer three or four times during my career, and I always found him to be personable and genuine, as well as overwhelmingly passionate. And he has a very sharp sense of humor, so I'm hoping he'd get a kick out of the following parody. Please weigh in with your own barbs.

Rob Preston currently serves as VP and editor in chief of InformationWeek, where he oversees the editorial content and direction of its various website, digital magazine, Webcast, live and virtual event, and other products. Rob has 25 years of experience in high-tech ... View Full Bio

Previous
1 of 11
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Oldest First  |  Newest First  |  Threaded View
<<   <   Page 2 / 4   >   >>
mcsnert
100%
0%
mcsnert,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/27/2014 | 12:16:06 PM
Re: He was 50% An Idiot
Like the guy they hired to shepard Windows 8 through the corporate rand at Microsoft.  He was universally despised within and they fired when he was finished. he will probably go down as the person whoi killed Microsoft. he was deaf to every objection staff and users brought before him because he thought he was going to be the next Steve Jobs.  This idiot had not a clue as to what it was that gave Steve Jobs his unique genius.  yes, Steve Jobs was difficult and explosive, but those are not the defining characteristics of Steve Jobs personality. In the case of Microsoft, it was.  And the leadership within Microsoft, like Steve Ballmer, refused to recognize the dangers. They were well outside the loop and blind and deaf to the true consequences of their actions.  It is time Microsoft pay for this and the incredible amount of cost associated with integrating their new OS and the philiosophy behind it.

In my estimation, the philosophy behind Win 8 is the ability to deliver it as a service to any device you own, as long as it is a Microsoft device.  The ability to deliver this service, known variably as Desktop as a service (DAAS) or Virtual Desktop Interface (VDI) is controlled solely by Microsoft. Service providers can only provide these services in the user purchases their OS first, then pay for the service of delivering to them to their various devices.  Only Microsoft retains the ability to lease the software to consumers on a per device basis.  Unless you are familiar with this market, it is another over-reach by Microsoft.  

So not only has Microsoft pissed of the consumer and their serive provider partners, the enterprise IT folks are just as peaved. Managing Windows 8 in familiar ways is gone.  Let's say you want to deploy Win 8 desktops for corporate users.  Mind you, 99% of corporate users are not very tech savvy.  Their IT departments have spent untold hours making their user's desktop interface as simple to use as possible. Things like placing shortcuts to applications on desktops, and only those shortcuts, plus maybe IE or Chrome or Mozilla, etc. There is a scant toolbox for doing this in Win 8.  And the fact that prior to Win 8.1 there was no way to boot to a desktop exacerbates the issue. In effect Microsoft was forcing their corporate users to use the Metro interface.  Now I am an IT person and I am pretty tech savvy by definition.  If I struggle with this interface, you can be sure the nominal user will be totally lost.  What IT department has the time and the manpower to cmpletely retrain their employees on how to simply access files through an Explorer interface, or easily start Outlook or Word. The stupidity and bone-headedness of Microsoft cannot be underestimated here. And it is time they are severely taken down a few notches.  In my estmation the only way to do that is through their pocket book and that means class action lawsuits.
mcsnert
100%
0%
mcsnert,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/27/2014 | 12:29:09 PM
Re: More reason's why Steve Ballmer retired
It cost me $70 to install software to recover the data and applications Microsoft deleted without my knowledge or consent. How's that for a start? How about basically forcing users to use a Microsoft account to access their dekstops.  I have plenty of Microsoft accounts, but I have no desire to notify Microsoft everytime I log on or off of my own personal desktop on hardware I own.  It is none of their business. I prefer to use other services for what Microsoft offers, such as Google Drive, etc.  I don't own a Microsoft phone or tablet, and it is doubtful I ever will.  Microsoft's creeed is to try and force the user into a mold they may not want to fit into and they do it without the user's knowledge of the options or consequences. It is corporate averice at its worst and will only be challenged when Microsoft faces severe fiduciary costs for this horrible and offecnsive behavior.

I hope this answers your question.
TeaPartyCitizen
50%
50%
TeaPartyCitizen,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/27/2014 | 12:51:54 PM
Leaving MS with only a 4% share of mobile is not a "solid foundation"
A foundation like that would look like a piramid turned upside down.
anon0216885350
100%
0%
anon0216885350,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/27/2014 | 1:41:43 PM
Steve Ballmer's retirement
Mr Ballmer didn't retire, he was shown the door.
A. Wolf
100%
0%
A. Wolf,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/27/2014 | 1:43:51 PM
Pretty sure the ten reasons were these.
DEVELOPERS, DEVELOPERS, DEVELOPERS, DEVELOPERS, DEVELOPERS, DEVELOPERS, DEVELOPERS, DEVELOPERS, DEVELOPERS, DEVELOPERS.
anon0216885350
100%
0%
anon0216885350,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/27/2014 | 1:53:37 PM
Re: More reason's why Steve Ballmer retired
Mr Ballmer's rejection of the Business and Corporate community in favor of the mobile market (low end users) was irresponsible. That's why the majority of Windows computers still run XP, or more so, 7. I remember his Exec VP, Tami Reller, absolutely lying about the adoption rate of Win 8 and stating that "the touch screen is the future". I thought, here I am typing an 8 page engineering report with formulas and graphics and in the near future I'll have to finger in the details/data. Not going to happen. Then to add injury to insult, "we listened" and out came Win 8.1. Nothing but lip service. Now we're faced with Win 8.2 (update, upgrade, service pack 1, or whatever they're calling it). Unless they release Win 9 and it makes sense, MS will become obsolete. People have work to do and are not going to play games with MS, nor the cloud, nor Office 365.
anon0216885350
50%
50%
anon0216885350,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/27/2014 | 1:57:53 PM
Re: More reason's why Steve Ballmer retired
For pain and suffering committed against the masses. Sounds like a good lawsuit to me.
anon9762084328
50%
50%
anon9762084328,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/27/2014 | 3:04:23 PM
Because he wants to follow his true calling
That is to say, sleazy second-hand car salesman.
dericw
50%
50%
dericw,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/27/2014 | 3:11:03 PM
The markets changed- Ballmer didn't.
I think he was basically just the guy Gates trusted most to stay the course and to keep on doing things the way that used to work so well for them.  They were too slow to adapt and had fostered a self destructive corporate culture so it was time for Ballmer and many others to move on.

Metro simply belongs on mobile.  It should take the back seat to the classic desktop interface which allows people to be more productive.  Let the people who want it on their desktop enable it, not the other way around.

 
mcsnert
100%
0%
mcsnert,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/27/2014 | 4:34:45 PM
Re: More reason's why Steve Ballmer retired
Yet Microsoft has just completed the purchase of Nokia! They have a very minor presence in the Mobil market and I just don't understand the thinking here. Is owning a phone manufacturer the key to deeper market penetration?  This sounds to me like a bass-akwards approach.  Mobil device manufacturers put OSs on their devices which consumers covet. Microsoft needs to break the barrier of acceptance. Instead they seem to be taking the tack they will just force it down the throats of consumers based upon the gadgets on a phone, not the quality of the OS on them. This would only be done by a desperate and misguided organization which has for too long weilded way to much perceived power over markets. This crash will be ugly.

The real travesty is that Microsoft is not listening anymore. They seem to relish in the act of killing the messenger.  The 'we know better than you do' mindset will continue to accrue losses and legal and market backlashes to their incredibly stupid and greedy approach to their users will mount.

If I was Steve Ballmer and I saw that kind of future, I would bail too. The sooner the better.
<<   <   Page 2 / 4   >   >>
The Business of Going Digital
The Business of Going Digital
Digital business isn't about changing code; it's about changing what legacy sales, distribution, customer service, and product groups do in the new digital age. It's about bringing big data analytics, mobile, social, marketing automation, cloud computing, and the app economy together to launch new products and services. We're seeing new titles in this digital revolution, new responsibilities, new business models, and major shifts in technology spending.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Tech Digest, Dec. 9, 2014
Apps will make or break the tablet as a work device, but don't shortchange critical factors related to hardware, security, peripherals, and integration.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on InformationWeek.com for the week of December 14, 2014. Be here for the show and for the incredible Friday Afternoon Conversation that runs beside the program.
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.