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back to article Ballmer's big regret at 10: Losing the interwebs

Steve Ballmer's biggest regret of the past ten years? Impatience. Ten years after taking over as Microsoft president - and eight years after replacing Bill Gates as chief exec - Ballmer has told The Wall St Journal that impatience prevented Microsoft from pursuing a Google-like paid search business back in 1999. According to …

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Typo?

"At the turn of the millennium, Microsoft took a fundamental decision that the PC remained its destiny and that the internet was a treat to Microsoft's hard-won desktop business." doesn't seem to make sense. Did you mean "..a THREAT to Microsoft's hard-won desktop business"?

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What is the definition of patience?

Does throwing a chair describe a patient person?

"I could be wrong now, but I don't think so! Its a jungle out there."

Then again, Steve Ballmer could just be a stand-in for the next James Bond villain, and it might even make an interesting movie!

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Gates Horns

Bullshit

If MS had pursued internet search they still would have lost to google because of one thing: usability.

We were mostly all stuck with 56k back then, and Google's clean, clutter free page gave us what we needed instantly. Microsofts page would have been loaded with ads. Even their Xbox Live thing on their console has ads, they haven't a fucking clue.

Thats why they are losing major ground to Apple now, usabiltiy. Not that they'd notice, with all the focus on spreadsheets and profit graphs.

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Anonymous Coward

Also known as...

'It hadn't been done yet so we didn't know what to copy'

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Anonymous Coward

Alternate history

"The company failed to realize the potential of paid internet search early on, a move that could have meant it - rather than Google - is now the number-one market leader in this space."

Sure - but then what would Cade Metz be writing about all the time?

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Gates Horns

public betas

You are right in what you say about mobiles.

I reckon each verison of windows mobile before the present one was a beta, that people paid for. And since I won't have anything more to do with it I have no idea whether 6.1 professional is a beta or not.

I do like AC's remark 'It hadn't been done yet so we didn't know what to copy'.

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Still Haemhorraging and in Need of New Blood Tranfusions

And Azure, which one assumes/presumes to be an MS Assault on the Virtualisation SpaceScape is about as Effective as a Gay Virgin in a Hetero Brothel. So Microsoft still haven't got their Act Together .....which must be a Reflection on the Savvy of those at the Very Top. Still not the Right Brains to Drain Power from the Competition and Control InterNetWorking Networks and Emergent CyberIntelAIgently Designed Virtual IDEntities.

Ah well, at least with their Pile of Cash Cushion, they can always easily fall back on their usual, very effective Methodology and just buy in what they Need, for IT to immediately Feed them their Desires. It is what any Good Business Manager would do ..... a Gates or a Buffett or even a Soros.

But I suppose if you are Supplying "the Right Brains to Drain Power from the Competition and Control InterNetWorking Networks and Emergent CyberIntelAIgently Designed Virtual IDEntities", you could work for anyone and make them any number of Absolutely Fabulous Fortunes for Spending Wisely and XXXXtravagantly.

Is that what NEUKlearer HyperRadioProActivity does with ITs NINJAs?..... Networks InterNetworking Javan Applications.

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Buying innovation

The problem with Microsoft is that they cannot see the uses of innovation even when they buy it in. They have never created for a reason and the last 10 years was all about creativity to solve certain reasons. The success of games, the Wii or myspace, facebook, twitter, et al. These enabled people to use the technology to keep people in social contact.

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Anonymous Coward

Keyser Söze was wrong

"Thats why they are losing major ground to Apple now, usabiltiy. Not that they'd notice, with all the focus on spreadsheets and profit graphs."

-Where, the times are a changing. Steve Jobs is dying you know.

But yes, whatever edge they had it is lost now. Not that i expect them to dissipate tomorrow, but it is written in stone, Microsoft have had there good days. Level sixteen manager anyone?

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Anonymous Coward

IE didn't come from nowhere....

It came from Mosaic by way of Spyglass.

Higly ironic that open-source code was used to beat the closed-source Netscape into submission. Especially when that open-source code was written by one of the Netscape founders.

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Anonymous Coward

Hindsight's great, isn't it?

Now, can anyone tell me tonight's lottery numbers?

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Patience

Patience is also a prerequisite of using most Microsoft products.

But I agree with AC @ 00:49, also hate teh fact MS seem to want to compete for competitions sake. It's not real competition (like a new company making Silverlight would have been), or IE vs Standards browsers, they use their heft to steal/cling on to market share and then everyone ends up worse off.MS have more customers, sure, but some developer somewhere will be lamenting.

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Jobs Horns

@ Also known as...

M$ have never been first with any application or innovation. They are great at stealing other ideas and adapting them & then convincing Joe Public that they are the great inventors, developers & innovators. M$ is a cancer on society.

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Gates Horns

One thing MS has never liked about the Internet

was that it looks like (and is really) an outgrowth of *nix. Windows has always been mired in the stand-alone PC with their C-drive,D-drive(which are partitions, not drives - they don't refer to disks internally like that, do they?) Netbios, and backslash(just to be different) setup. Whereas Unix was built from the ground up as a networked OS, and the internet was just another network to connect to.

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Unhappy

Hard hat area

"brain drain"

Well, would you want to work for Ballmer..?

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Gates Horns

So we got away by the skin of our teeth?

Imagine "The Internets" as a walled garden of "Microsoft Network" hosted content, accessible from dial-in POPs installed in each country, using proprietary "de facto" standards which are based on septic, festering, semi-disclosed specifications "available under reasonable licensing conditions". Said Internets being brought down regularly by worms, the "desktops" of the connectionati being mercilessly eaten from within by rogue code blooming out kernel-referenced DLLs...

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Erm not quite

Quote:

"Microsoft's track record shows it has no problem pushing into markets where it doesn't have a business"

Yes it can try to push in but it has a nasty habit of making large losses where it does outside of it's core business of office and the windows OS. MS falls on it's arse when it has real competition, Nintendo is giving it a real spanking in the console market for example and Nintendo actually makes a profit on the console sale.

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Jobs Horns

The beginning of the end

"Microsoft's entertainment and devices unit - home to Mobile and Xbox - has yet to turn a profit."

That's why it always makes me laugh when people say MS have 'won' the latest round of console wars, presumably by beating Sony (to these sorts of people the Wii is just a toy and so doesn't count). They tend to ignore the fact that Sony are actually at break even point for the PS3 project and everything they do from now on will be money in the bank for them.

Apart from that, every other one of their core businesses is under pressure to some extent or other from superior competitors, so I reckon the next step in propping up the decaying empire will most likely be a move into business consultancy / services a la IBM.

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Anonymous Coward

@ AC @ Also known as...

I think that was his point!!

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Anonymous Coward

@Sarah Bee - I know you're watching

Any chance you can start rejecting comments from people who use the term "M$"?

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Obsession != patience

There is a big difference between being patient and being obsessed.

Microsoft's biggest series of duds have been in the tablet arena. They've tried at least 4 times and dudded out each time. So why do they continue? Well, Tablets have always been Bill's pet project. He loves the idea of the tablet even if the market does not. Thus, Bill has chosen to ignore market feedback (a big MS flaw all round) and pushed on with his innovative ideas.

Their approach to Windows CE has been rather similar, but perhaps a bit more successful.

The primary obstacle to making search work is that MS just lack the business/sales structure to support this. Microsoft are great at chasing and pressuring big accounts (PC vendors, governments, corporates...) but are hopeless at dealing with smaller customers with smaller purchases - an area that is critical to making online ads work.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: @Sarah Bee - I know you're watching

That's come up before. I'm generally inclined to, but if they've got otherwise reasonable points they tend to get through. But I might start rejecting anyone who uses the tired old quip. It's just, y'know, then people complain and get all arsey and I have to explain that it's because they're being silly and it's all extra toil for Bee.

But yeah, I'm feeling snotty today, so all be advised - grit your teeth and put 'MS' rather than 'M$' (my sides! it's still such a hoot) or into the void your comment will go.

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Paris Hilton

Re Obsession != patience and ITs Marriage of Convenience delivering Hubris

Charles,

Those deliberations on Microsoft [and who would want to rattle Sarah Bee's cage whenever she's having one of those snooty days, so you'll find no reference to M$ here, thank you very much] are just so much like an exact mirror of the Shower raining on everyone parade and squatting in Downing Street ...... where coincidentally another Sarah B also probably has a lot of bad air days to deal with.

And given the poor performance of Prudence, can one speculate that it is separate bedrooms with Sarah's attention centred elsewhere .... for obviously hubby's is.

Its a funny old world and they/you/I make IT up as we go along and that is the problem/opportunity that the barstewards are trying to suppress and failing gloriously badly.

Oh, and the Shower in Downing Street and Westminster know Nothing of the Power of Clouds, for if they did, they'd be doing a Blair and running away to hide in foreign lands that do not understand the Depth of Conceit in Spinning Deceit. But it merely only temporarily delays the Inevitable.

And Paris because .... well, she's bound to enjoy herself with her head buzzing in the Clouds because of what she will find there, Sarah Bee. It is an immaculate Environment for the Fairest of Sex and XSSXXXX FareShareWare.

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Happy

Security Treats

"Microsoft U-turned on IE development, resuming it in the face of security treats and vigorous competition from open source,"

Security Treats sound delicious! Buffer-overflow gobstoppers, Zombie-chews with SQL-injected jelly hearts, Chocolate trojans, Pop-upping candy, colourful Rainbow-Table gums.

Another outstanding innovation from Register Towers...

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Spyglass.

And anyone remember the deal with them? A portion of the sale price.

So MS gave it away.

Which was nice.

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Gates Horns

Why M<dollar>?

It seems to be Microsofts' raison d'etre that they are out to make money, which is fait enough since they are a business and that's what businesses do.

The problem with Microsoft is that it would appear that having 'conquered' the desktop using dubious-enough means they are prepared to do anything, including breaking anti-competition laws, to keep their place.

In my opinion people tend to use 'M<dollar>' sign to show their awareness of M<dollar>s' tactics, and to highlight this to others.

I guess we will have to think of something similar for Googl€ and other businesses that seek to make a profit in what can be seen as an 'unfair' manner.

ttfn

Oh - heres a question, why stop M<dollar> usage, but allow the evil Gates? are personal view-points being stamped on now?

(hmm - just like €l R£g!) :-)

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Why M&lt;dollar&gt;?

>are personal view-points being stamped on now?

Of course not, don't be hysterical. It's just that little combo which is so well-worn now as to be meaningless. Surely if you're going to be critical of MS - which we have no issue with whatsoever - that's going to show in what you say. Using 'M$' just makes you look like you're trolling, and kind of lowers the tone, y'know?

I should point that It's Not Just Me - it was actually suggested quite a while back, and I've been letting it through but it's got too tedious now. The Evil Bill icon isn't going anywhere, so if you want to show the rest of the commenters that your overall view is that Microsoft is obsessed with the making of the paper, that ought to do it.

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Sam

@Sarah

Will Microtoss still get through?

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: @Sarah

Microtoss? That's not bad, actually. Well, not as bad. I'll use my own discretion. It's what I do, guy.

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Patience

is certainly a great strategy when a monopoly extracts its rent from the loyally cuffed customers. Whether the patience of financing new businesses ever pays off is another question. I am not sure if the sum of MS non-windows and non-office products ever turned a profit.

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Linux

@Sarah

or Microshaft

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Happy

@Sarah

Or Microsofty - should that have a lower-case 'M'?

Monopolysoft?

Please note - I don't really care, a little dig at MS is one thing, upsetting Sarah is a step too far, so maybe we could use ΣS instead?

:-)

ttfn

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Coat

@Sarah

...or Millisoft? Yes, they have grown by several orders of magnitude, but you still need a magnifier to see their contribution to serious networked computing :o)

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: @Sarah

See? Now you're thinking. It's fun to use your brain!

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Dead Vulture

"lowers the tone"

@Sarah Bee:

"Using 'M$' just makes you look like you're trolling, and kind of lowers the tone, y'know?"

If you were worried about the tone of comments here, 90 per cent of them would be rejected. Why pick on users who use a poor pucky piece of punctuation?

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Microshit

They really do make the shittest products imaginable.

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Pirate

off with his head!

Why does Balmer seem to be untouchable? He should have been thrown out with the rest of the garbage years ago...

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Gates Horns

@AnonCow @ 13:27 GMT

Right. So when Microsoft copies an idea and calls it their own they're dirty rotten cheaters, but when Google ripped off AltaVista, Lycos, etc... they become the innovaters of the century?

(Also, why the evil Steve Jobs?)

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@AC at 05:15

Google changed the idea. The google results were not ad-laden and picture laden monstrosities. they were text links.

Especially on dial-up a HUGE innovation.

Before Google made a business off it, the idea was that you HAD to have ads plastered all about to do a search engine.

PS the Evil Steve Jobs looks a lot like Evil Steve Ballmer.

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Paris Hilton

@ Mark

Dialup? Wossat?

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