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4/26/2014
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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.
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(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

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mcsnert
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mcsnert,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/28/2014 | 7:21:26 PM
Re: The markets changed- Ballmer didn't.
< 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.

This is an excellent solutiion. Simple, straight forward and keeps decisions in the hands of the end user.  

It just seems Microsoft is a slave to their greediness. It cannot end well for Microsoft if they continue down this course.
mcsnert
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mcsnert,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/28/2014 | 6:44:01 PM
Re: He was 50% An Idiot
< Not defending the policies, or -- for that matter -- singing the praises of Windows 8/8.1.  I just don't think this has much of anything to do with Ballmer's retirement.

Please keep in mind my addition to the 'Top 10 list' was offered in the same tongue-in-cheek vein as the original article.
mcsnert
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mcsnert,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/28/2014 | 6:40:08 PM
Re: More reason's why Steve Ballmer retired
I will give you this example.  Let's say you want to download a song from iTunes.  While I would have to authenticate to the iTunes site in order to download apps or songs, I would not have to log into my computer with my apple ID in order to do that. In order for me to download the 'free' Solitair games Microsoft offers, I could not just authenticate to their download site, I had to change the authentication method on my computer in order to be enabled for downloading these free apps. While federated services (single sign-on) can be a good idea, it cannot be forced on the user. Microsoft has taken an opt-out philosophy, which goes against every grain of independence I can think of, especially when the only opt-out option is to eliminate Windows altogether as you seem to think is a viable option. Well that is not a viable option for a large swath of consumer and corporate users and it is only averice on the part of Microsoft which would give them the idea that this is acceptable.  It is not. Not to me and I would venture to a very large part of the user base as well.  Some savvy lawfirm is going to recognize the opportunity here and will enjoin this fight with Microsoft. I believe there would be a huge amount of public and political support which would wither Microsoft's resolve back reality. And this is not just in the US.  The EU is much tougher than the US.

 

There is another issue I want to ellucidate. The product Micorsoft is selling is named Windows.  Where did that name come from? It came from the ability to take applications and resize them any way you wanted in multiple 'windows' on your desktop and move them independently around your screen. By the new methods in version 8 the OS should be renamed Half Pipe as you only have two choices in 'window' size, full or half screen, period.  And it wasn't until the latest update to ver. 8 that you were even given the ability to minimize or close an open application! Microsoft has betreayed their own legacy.  It is only because they have completely lost their way would they force every user into the same mold. That is antithetical to the idea of the founding value of Windows.
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
4/28/2014 | 6:07:29 PM
Re: More reason's why Steve Ballmer retired
> 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.


Agreed...

...but name one non-open-source competitor of Microsoft that doesn't fit that description.
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
4/28/2014 | 6:01:21 PM
Re: More reason's why Steve Ballmer retired
> They seem to relish in the act of killing the messenger

 

Is that a pun?  ;)
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
4/28/2014 | 6:00:03 PM
Re: He was 50% An Idiot
Just a general comment... You don't "purchase" software (not in the way you're referring to, anyway).  You purchase a license to use software under certain terms and conditions.

The company isn't reaching onto the hardware you own any more than you allow it to.  You're free to delete Windows, reformat your hard drive, and install Ubuntu or some other OS.

Not defending the policies, or -- for that matter -- singing the praises of Windows 8/8.1.  I just don't think this has much of anything to do with Ballmer's retirement.
mcsnert
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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.
dericw
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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.

 
anon9762084328
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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.
anon0216885350
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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.
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