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back to article Microsoftie's tell-all on 'rival-flinging' Ballmer: The politics of disbelief

A former Microsoft executive has sketched an unflattering portrait of Steve Ballmer that depicts him as a cut-throat Machiavellian schemer, and claimed in his new book that the top man at Redmond has forced out rivals who challenged his authority. Joachim Kempin, a former head of Microsoft's OEM business, claims chief executive …

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Meh

Yes but all big company bosses have these fundamental character traits, or may be I should call them flaws?

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> There are different kinds of boss though,

But by all accounts, Jobs was as big an asshole, if not bigger, than Ballmer. Same is true for most of the successflll Silicon Valley execs. The companies run by the nice guys were the ones that got screwed when times got tough.

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Anonymous Coward

@Eadon

One of the most common ways for a startup to fail is for the founder/engineer type to think that they are somehow able to be the CEO, without any proper schooling in the role and what a CEO does. Usually it's much better for the founder to be a CTO or such like and get in someone who knows about CEOing to do this work.

It's very rare for founder/CEO types to have successful companies, you remember the ones which are successful because they stand out: MS, Apple, HP are top of the list. Facebook is a good example of why the founder shouldn't be the COE, although I admit they've just about pulled it off.

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Paris Hilton

"Yes but all big company bosses have these fundamental character traits, or may be I should call them flaws?"

Not all. Quite a few though. They're psychopaths (I'm not using hyperbole, I mean it literally, the personality disorder) that boards would do well to get rid of. Ignoring that I don't understand how Ballmer is top dog just based on company performance anyways.

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Read the Jobs biography...

...which he had no editorial control over and as far as I could see didn't even get chance to read before he died.

Jobs primarily didn't suffer fools - if you knew your stuff and had the backbone to stand up for yourself you were treated with respect.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Politics Microsoft Style

Nokia has posted a healthy profit, their Windows Phone strategy is working. So you can moan about Windows Phone all you like, it's not a failure.

Your track record of posting is just massively biased against commercial software in general.

You can be an "open source" advocate all you want, but the fact is that the best tools for certain tasks are either commercial (Music composition, high end graphics) or they are bespoke (3D and special FX work, written in house, see Weta or Pixar).

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Re: Politics Microsoft Style

Their profit is 1/2 the money MS threw at them and that makes you think they're doing well?

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Re: ranging from Zune to Win phones to windows tablets

Ranging from APL, Multiplan, Windows 1.01 actually

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WTF?

Re: Politics Microsoft Style

"Nokia has posted a healthy profit, their Windows Phone strategy is working. So you can moan about Windows Phone all you like, it's not a failure."

BWAHAHAHAHA <- that's what your ridiculous nonsense deserves, more ridicule. :)

WP is a DISASTER, despite sinking BILLIONS into it MS still has NO MARKET SHARE in the mobile market, period. If that's not a failure then I don't know what is in the head of that bald, fat, angry chair-throwing beancounter...

Nokia? Strategy? What...?

You mean the profit that comes after MS' BILLION-dollar 'investment' in Nokia's new, even at deeply discounted price badly-selling WP phones? FYI Nokia's revenue DECLINED 20%, with SMARTPHONES SALES FALLING OFF A CLIFF WITH 55% LOWER sales (eg Lumias running WP)...

...in other words you can cut costs, fire people, even cancel dividend payouts as Elop, this MS-parachuted Trojan operator just did and you can even post a profit but if it comes on the heels of falling revenues and collapsing sales in the most important market then you're ON DEATH ROW, nothing "is working"...

...unless your strategy was slowly killing off the company - something many of us suspected from the beginning, that it's a game to bring down the price and have MS pick up Nokia's excellent hardware division and it's distribution operations for the ashtray change of Ballmer.

"Your track record of posting is just massively biased against commercial software in general."

And you are obviously a paid MSFT shill, it's just pathetic you guys don't even have the balls to defend your BS position on your real name.

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Re: Politics Microsoft Style

"you are obviously a paid MSFT shill"

Y'know one day it'd be nice if someone could express an opinion without being screamed at as a "shill". The phrase 'play the ball, not the man' springs to mind.

C.

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Happy

In other words...

Respect my Athoritaaah!

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Happy

Microsoft Damage Control©

I see the damage control exercise has already begun in the media ...

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Coat

Re: Microsoft Damage Control©

MSO-911-112-999 "Microsoft advise that this media player patch is applied with immediate effect."

Mines the one with thet box of press bandaids in the pocket.

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Holmes

Good article.

Oddly, I agree with Gavin pretty much 100%. "Outsiders" don't seem to last long at MS and Kempin wants to sell a book. Ballmer's weaknesses have historically been backing losers rather than Machiavellian plotting. If Sinofsky hadn't bailed (and nobody except he and the MS board really know why), this book would have sunk without a trace due to lack of media interest.

As it is, he'll probably sell a copy to Eadon (it can go on his "erotic fantasy" shelf) but that's about it.

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FAIL

Re: Good article.

1. Ballmer has $66.6 billion US to work with, but nice try.

2. MS are non-players in the cloudy and mobile revolutions

o rly?

You know what iCloud runs on? MS Azure. And Office365 is already a huge player, based on Azure.

Amazon are currently bigger but they're the only larger provider that exists. As for mobile, MS were a major player pre-iPhone with WM and foolishly rested on their laurels rather than work to maintain that position, an IE6 problem if you will. Now they're working pretty hard to recoup and offer the consumers choice and competition.

I know you don't like the idea of consumer choice, but I do.

Your little dreamworld must such a fun place for you. Why don't you stay there?

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Anonymous Coward

"I know you don't like the idea of consumer choice, but I do"

Given that MS have done their very best to prevent user choice an any area they can touch, I don't think this is a good point to make.

I think one of MS' biggest problems now is the "windows everywhere" attitude. They don't offer Office for iOs for Linux even though it could sell, because that is considered a threat to sales of Windows. Similarly they have (in the past for sure, not quite as bad now) kept Windows information limited so their own developers had a head start, again making it poorer for others to compete or improve things. I have no love of MS, but if I were in charge I would separate the key groups and tell them to work alone and offer the best product, no corporate tie-in. That way, for example, Office could go OS-independent and sell more. OS group could concentrate on making itself secure and with a choice of GUI, and the GUI group offering what users want to use.

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Re: Good article.

MS is not a serious cloud player. Amazon and Google and others own the cloud market.

Opinion based on wishful thinking. Sorry, dismissed.

iCloud does not run on Azure - that's a myth - you're googling and finding rumours from 2 years ago.

Actually, it does. The authentication is delivered via AWS but the storage and retrieval is Azure. You don't know what you're talking about.

MS will not catch up with Google and Amazon - they're falling further behind each year.

More baseless opinion, devoid of fact or information.

You're not worth the keystrokes, Eadon. I won't even bother to correct you any more. Feel free to tell your endless lies here from now on. Somebody else can argue, although it seems that you've acquired a fully justified reputation these days so probably people will just sit back and laugh.

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Boffin

Re: Good article.

Off the top of my head, Ars Technica.

link

And with that, I am done with you. You delusional little liar.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "I know you don't like the idea of consumer choice, but I do"

@AC 11:53 "They don't offer Office for iOs for Linux even though it could sell, because that is considered a threat to sales of Windows"

Yet they do sell Office for Mac OS, which is the biggest single desktop competitor for Windows.

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Anonymous Coward

@AC 13:21

Yes, they do sell it for MacOS but until recently that was a minority of total computer sales. Now the iPad has the biggest single share of fondleslabs and a decent revenue in paid applications.

MS wants that market, and is not going to help Apple by offering what the users want in terms of Office software. They want to sell them WinRT devices or similar to get Windows a market share of such post-PC (I hate that expression!) machines. That attitude, I hope, will come back to bite them.

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Happy

Re: Good article.

Damn...Eadon and Dogged stopped before I'd finished my popcorn!

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Re: Good article.

Eadon, my issue with how you are treating dogged is this. There are multiple resources from a couple of years ago that state Azure may be part of the backbone for iCloud and you've asked for a more recent source. Dogged responded with a more recent source and you call into question the statement "several sources we consulted believe that..."

What is see is that dogged has in good faith present several different sources to back up his claim. You on the other hand simply deny without any substantiation at all. So Eadon, instead of being what appears to be an "asshat", why don't you back up your assertion with some data of your own...

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Pint

Re: Good article.

@b23h

Let it go, it doesn't matter. Eadon is incapable of admitting fault and is religiously biased and zealous in his posting. Find an article containing the words "Microsoft" or "Windows" - any article at all! - and there he is.

Me, I'm actually pleased with how it's all turned out. Eadon, and Eadon alone has made the Register less enjoyable than work. My productivity is way up.

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Black Helicopters

Shaky Ground

I'm not all that knowledgable of the american legal system, but a book about this kind of thing, could Balmer not have a case of libel / slander against the guy?

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Re: Shaky Ground

It is nearly impossible for a public figure to win a libel suit under US law. Since Sullivan v. NY Times, the plaintiff has to prove actual malice.

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Headmaster

Interesting to note in passing that Elop left after a year at Redmond.

If he left because MS' corporate culture was not to his liking (as implied in the article) then that does rather beg the question as far as his alleged role as a "trojan horse" at Nokia is concerned, hmm? Perhaps we might even focus (when the issue comes up) on evaluating his decisions at Nokia on their own merits/demerits rather than the tin foil hat speculation that a certain number here are so fond of.

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Windows

Re: Interesting to note in passing that Elop left after a year at Redmond.

Severe losses??Nokia? Results published today seem to imply (thanks to NSN - which was totally unexpected), they may - just may - be turning a corner.

http://www.results.nokia.com/results/Nokia_results2012Q4e.pdf

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Facepalm

Re: Interesting to note in passing that Elop left after a year at Redmond.

"occam's razor says that Elop is a Trojan."

It says nothing of the kind. If one hypothesis calls for the existence of an nefarious and elaborate conspiracy and another requires only stupidity, Occam’s razor is going to favour the latter every time. Obviously.

Your problem is that you start from the assumption that Elop must have destroyed Nokia deliberately and then go looking for reasons why he might have done this; you neglect the possibility that he might simply have been being massively inept, as parachuted-in corporate saviours so often are.

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WTF?

Re: Interesting to note in passing that Elop left after a year at Redmond.

"it's impossible to be THAT stupid, so occams razor favours conspiracy"

A remarkable claim; I'm wondering what evidence you could possibly have to support it. Some kind of rigorous experimental data on exactly how stupid humans are capable of being, used to support a prooft that Elop’s performance exceeds the human capacity for idiocy? To me it seems pretty clear that human history is littered with examples of people doing far, far more stupid things than running a formerly-successful phone manufacturer into the ground with a series of misguided decisions.

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WTF?

"If Elop was not a Trojan horse, then he would have kept Symbian and Meego alive"

What you appear to be saying is that because he has taken decisions that you don't agree with then that proves he is Redmond's trojan horse? I do not know where to begin to explain the fallacy in the logic of that argument. Apart from anything else it is based on an assumption that the man is a villain because he does not share your opinions. You must be an absolute joy to be down the pub with if you are of the view that anyone who disagrees with you must be doing it for the worst possible motives.

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Re: "If Elop was not a Trojan horse, then he would have kept Symbian and Meego alive"

Personally, I can't wait until Eadon starts distilling his wisdom in published form. CEOs around the world are probably already thinking "now, what would Eadon do?".

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Re: "If Elop was not a Trojan horse, then he would have kept Symbian and Meego alive"

Elops destruction of Nokia only makes sense if he's a trojan horse, nothing else fits.

Eadon,

Nope. It really isn't. There really are more than one possible explanation for most phenomena. Particularly when information isn't clear, and so much depends on personalities/intentions/mistakes.

Please try to use your brain and think before engaging your prejudices. And maybe comment a bit less on MS stories. Oh and while I'm asking, please stop screaming shill every 5 minutes as well...

Elop may be the Trojan horse sent by MS to destroy Nokia. Except he didn't work for MS for that long, and if this book is to be believed* (which I'm not sure I do), Elop was dumped as a threat to Ballmer. Also why did Nokia pick him? What would cause them to pick a Trojan Horse, and allow him to make all his recent decisions. Remember what can happen to CEOs who do 'burning platform' speeches? Ask Leo Apotheker. HP's board (who've been seen as pretty crap at oversight themselves) dumped him right quick when he talked about selling off the PC division. Shame they didn't stop him buying Autonomy...

Given Nokia's recent incompetence - over at least the last 5 years - I'd say it's pretty fair to assume one of the huge problems with Nokia was Nokia management. Which was true both before and after they hired Elop. They had some great R&D, but couldn't stop fighting each other long enough to get any of it to market. Which then makes his decision to dump their internal stuff (which was improving) for an outside product more explicable. Even if MS's product wasn't particularly ready either. Having to break compatibility for WP8 and still not getting all the UI changes done means it's still not totally read now! But then could Nokia have got Hanrattan/Meego/Maemo working any faster? Asha is pretty good by all accounts, but that's not aimed at high-end kit. So it'll never be very profitable. The profit's all in the £400-£500 phones that cost £200-£250 to build.

*I don't think I believe the book. I mostly agree with you on Ballmer. He seems to have made too many screw-ups. I don't think you can totally blame him for Vista, that was going on when he took over, and I guess Server&Tools seems to have been doing quite well. I've no idea whether Bing was worth the effort or not. But they certainly dropped the ball on phones (where they had about 50% of the smartphone market in 2005, from memory). Had they continued to develop a phone OS, then they'd have been properly positioned to try a tablet earlier as well. I'm not sure about Win8, WinRT, WP8. Trying to merge everything might be a great idea, or too clever by half. Just allowing people to turn off Metro in Win 8 would have saved so much bad PR though that it looks like a horrible error to have been so dogmatic. Which would be a good reason to dump Sinofsky, expect they did that before they knew what sales would be, and they didn't change anything, so that doesn't seem to stack up as an explanation.

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Re: "If Elop was not a Trojan horse, then he would have kept Symbian and Meego alive"

@Eadon: "Elops destruction of Nokia only makes sense if he's a trojan horse, nothing else fits."

Seems odd that you'd make the assertion that Ballmer is doing the same thing to MS, and then come up with that in the very same thread!

Why not say:

Ballmer's destruction of Microsoft only makes sense if he's a (Linux/Unix/open source) trojan horse, nothing else fits.

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Gimp

Says it all

"the company has spent 12 years throwing billions of dollars at every game-changing technology wave to catch up" ... (and never did .... will they ever learn ?)

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startup

"A 47-year-old Unix server guy from Silicon Valley joins an aggressive, Unix-bashing start-up outside the The Valley?" Was Microsoft really a start-up in 1998 or 1999? It seemed to me to be pretty well entrenched by then.

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Captain Immanence

Eating the first and second children is standard practice among the Prador

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Windows

I still don't get it.

OK, the N8 (s60) and the N9 (MeeGo) weren't making a lot of money. But they were making money.

Why dump them before time?

So Flop jumps off his burning platform, to go Windows-7 (already obsoleted), and now we've got Windows-8.

Hope Flop lands in the "Jolla".

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Xbox

There are Dean Takahashi's books on Xbox, and Ballmer didn't obviously have to do much with the Xbox project

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Angel

Google is God and Microsoft the Devil

Well considering they are all working for the planets largest secret satanic cults, they are all probably guilty of crimes they could be imprisoned for. Two devils fighting over the scraps. The company needs to be exposed, sued, dismantled and most of its evil employees who have been been aware of this activity should have their day in front of a firing squad. Greed does strange things to you humans. You all could be living in paradise and instead you choice to drive in circles letting these corporate monsters destroy anything positive about this planet and its people.

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