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Old 12-22-2009, 10:00 PM
Andy Dixon
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Default Matt Asay Wonders If Steve Ballmer Is To Blame

"Microsoft is in significant disarray, fettered by its destkop dominance as the world goes mobile. Would this have happened anyway, or is Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to blame? Ballmer, after all, knows how to sing to developers, but he doesn't really speak their language. Former Microsoft CEO and co-founder Bill Gates did. Now, more than ever, Microsoft needs to get in front of developers but finds itself playing catch-up."

Matt Asay has posted an article on CNET about the future of Microsoft, and whether he thinks Microsoft has lost it's way since Bill Gates left the company and Steve Ballmer took over.¬* It's an interesting opinion and one that does raise some valid points. I personally feel that Microsoft is stuck in a rut and is not adapting quickly enough to the way technology is changing and in particular, the way we users are using that technology.¬* Windows Mobile is a good example of how Microsoft have fallen behind, and how developers are now focusing their efforts on iPhone apps and¬*Android apps. What about the desktop, will that go the same way?¬* Does Steve Ballmer have the same creativity and¬*vision that Bill Gates had? With Microsoft under attack from the likes of Apple and Google, is he the right man to lead the battle? What do you think? Do you think that like Apple, Microsoft should entice their talisman, Bill Gates, back to try and drive Microsoft forward?

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Old 12-22-2009, 10:36 PM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 984

Honestly, I think that Microsoft's "slide" (if you can call it that) started under Bill Gates's watch. Remember, he was the guy during the whole antitrust debacle (a debacle made bigger by Microsoft's general reluctance to comply with what they agreed to comply with - publishing APIs, etc.), the guy in charge when what became Vista was started, etc. And, as somebody who is not a huge fan of Microsoft*, I really like the direction that Microsoft is heading in. I just think that the changes that are happening will take a bit more time to be fully realized. Microsoft is successful enough and large enough to sustain a few years of small growth.

I think that WM 7 will be here soon enough, and Microsoft has enough marketing muscle, that it will be a real player in the Mobile market - even if they own the enterprise market and struggle a bit with consumers, that's a heck of a big niche. They really seem to have a great cloud strategy in place; Bing and other search services are really strong right now. Ballmer is great for the company in that he has shoulders big enough to personify taking the heaps of scorn thrown at the company, but I think he's got Microsoft on the right track.

It's funny that this article comes out when Microsoft has just started selling their best version of Windows at a time when the recession appears to be bottoming out, if not coming out of a bottom. There may be a future huge increase in enterprise computer systems sold just as Windows 7 is there to be sold, and enterprises simply aren't ready for a mass adoption of Linux or an expensive switch to OS X.

* what I mean by this is not that I feel that I am not biased against Microsoft just because they are Microsoft, but I tend not to use their products these days.
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Old 12-23-2009, 12:16 AM
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 2,341

Is Microsoft in disarry? Its stock has been steadily climbing for the past year. Windows 7 seems to be selling very well. From what I hear its enterprise and server divisions are doing quite well also. So as a company it seems to be doing quite well under Mr. Ballmer.

Windows Mobile, in the latest snapshot, doesn't seem to be doing well at all, but I don't think that means that Microsoft is in disarry. Who knows, maybe Windows Mobile isn't doing well by design. It's quite freezable that Microsoft has purposely let Windows Mobile slide as it puts most of its mobile resources into Windows Mobile 7. It really looks to me like WM7 is going to be about so much more then just selling licenses , and a lot more about selling services into a very wide mobile market.

I have a very hard time believing that Microsoft would let its mobile platform slide like it has without some other plans being laid for the future. Why would they spend over ten years loosing money and spend so much in resources to build Windows Mobile just to let it fizzle out just as mobility begins to really take off.

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Old 12-23-2009, 12:25 AM
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 86

"A successful parasite does not kill the host"

Nobody apparently, at Microsoft, has ever heard this quote before. You can't continue to put out crappy and insecure software, charge a fortune for it, and expect to rule the world forever. The perfect storm of Microsoft overestimating the patience of it's customers and underestimating rapid evolution of both it's proprietary competitors and the open source ecosystem is finally coming to light.

The sales rep from Microsoft was completely incredulous when I explained to him that we had migrated from Office to and from Exchange to Google. So much so that he wasted no time in calling my immediate supervisor the same day to make the same sales pitch. It's nice when you are on the same page as your boss.

Microsoft's Exchange in the cloud service - $60 per employee per month

Google's Apps Premier program - $50 per employee per year

Never mind the $65,000 we save by dumping Office in favor of OpenOffice. And we'll likely save a similar amount by migrating from XP to Arch Linux.

Surely I'm not the only one who has gone down this road...
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Old 12-23-2009, 01:26 AM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 740

Originally Posted by Paragon View Post
Is Microsoft in disarry? Its stock has been steadily climbing for the past year.


Sales (Qtr vs year ago qtr) -14.20
Net Income (YTD vs YTD) -18.30

As for the stock value they just, partially, rebounded from the previous, severe drop.

Check a historical chart: since Ballmer took over, ten years ago, the stock value has remained flat.

And yes I am a MS stockholder and I have been it for the last 16 years.

As for WM 7 I wonder how so many paople keep saying that it will be the Holy Grail of the MS mobile strategy; Does anybody have an idea about what it will be? The only word I heard from MS is that it will be more integrated with the so called "Social networks"... and this is it.

Said that I am not blaming everything to Ballmer but... the fish always start to stink from the head.
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Old 12-23-2009, 03:12 AM
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 214

To answer the original question, Microsoft needs someone visionary, and Ballmer isn't.

But to find someone to lead them into battle, first they have to acknowledge there is a battle, and second they have to decide that they want to win it, no matter the cost.

MS really seems to have a big problem with investing what it takes to win the market both in the short and long term. Their first assumption, that they were in the Enterprise market and had that sown up, was obviously mistaken. Since the iPhone has become the top choice among executives, and workers at every level.

The second assumption, that Windows Mobile was an extension of Windows and Office, and not a platform in its own right, was grossly incorrect. Look at the number of ways an iPhone can be plugged into other devices, from highish end speakers and stereo system adaptors (with remote controls) to cars.

I made my choice to go Windows Mobile this time for the next two years, knowing it would be my last. I don't really care about what WM7 will do. I just know that no matter how good it is, Android will be at a point by the time I buy my next phone that any advantages WM has at that time, will be short lived and WM will fall behind for another 3 years again.
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Old 12-23-2009, 03:37 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 471

Steve Ballmer is to Microsoft what Prince Phillip is to the British royal family. Every time he opens his mouth, you know that he's going to say something stupid.

Microsoft needs a leader who can stand on stage and wow people. They need someone with a vision of the future but that's not enough. What really matters is having the determination and guile to execute that vision. I don't know enough about the internals of Microsoft to say whether that person already exists within the company (J Allard?) but that person certainly isn't Ballmer.
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Old 12-23-2009, 04:11 AM
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 403

In reference to mobile devices:

"The King is naked!!!!"

There, I said it!!!
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Old 12-23-2009, 06:55 AM
Lee Yuan Sheng
Contributing Editor
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Posts: 2,503

Originally Posted by frankenbike View Post
The second assumption, that Windows Mobile was an extension of Windows and Office...
And not a very good one and that too!
Baka. Soku. Zan. - The justice behind the dysORDer.
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Old 12-23-2009, 02:11 PM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 118
Default Multiple angles to this hydra

Microsoft has been steadily attacked by niche companies over the last 7 to 10 years.

Add these companies together and you start to see the picture of alternative viable options to Microsoft that are cost-effective and "good enough" for many individuals and business including large verticals.

Currently the "cloud" is an incredibly disruptive force for many reasons. Microsoft is late to this table but they have an enormous appetite (and wallet).

From the psychological (or emotional aspect), Microsoft is no longer fresh. Apple, Google, and Twitter have encroached into this space with more companies joining everyday.

Cheers and happy holidays!

"I thought technology was supposed to help simplify my life"
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