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The Microsoft re-organisation unveiled by chief executive Steve Ballmer yesterday is the biggest - and riskiest - in his company's history. Not since Microsoft shifted from a PC software company to a PC-and-server-software-and-internet company have the top brass shifted the reporting lines so thoroughly. Back then, the change …

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makes Ballmer look like dead STEVE JOBS

So will that let them sell piles of phones and tablets and have a big pile of cash too?

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Devil

Re: makes Ballmer look like dead STEVE JOBS

"So will that let them sell piles of phones and tablets and have a big pile of cash too?"

Err, no. But changing the reporting lines means there's nothing for the investors and analysts to compare performance with from previous years. That buys a failing CEO two years of uncertainty about corporate performance, in which he can gold plate his pension and retire. If he wants to stay, it buys time for a turnround (yeah, sure), and pillaging the captive customers with big prices rises can be presented as "growth" to an ill informed world.

That might seem a little cynical, but its roughly what my employers did to disguise a string of value destroying acquisitions.

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Re: makes Ballmer look like dead STEVE JOBS

"That might seem a little cynical"

No not cynical enough. I've heard whenever the buck-stop algorithm gets close to the top, it triggers the Prism diversion flow control step, delivers the current executives identity to the NSA and then to the Pentagon and the executive the cursor is currently on is hit by a drone strike. The bald bloke escapes unscathed.

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Devil

Re: makes Ballmer look like dead STEVE JOBS

@Ledswinger

I have a smelling there is a lot of truth in what you wrote. One thing is the outside/fiscal performance and statistics - other is the inside metrics, that are of course much more detailed. And as in case of the fiscal performance the ability to compare numbers is crucial.

I am not sure what is happening in that company - you cannot really see on Ballmer's face that he's worried etc. You cannot say that he's worried or ambushed by judging his actions, because he is known to be a rather unpredictable person/chair thrower.

Personally I must say, that during Gates' years it was like "ok, windows tax to be paid - but it is usable in a way". Now it's "wtf windows 8?! What am I suppose to do with that?!"...

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Thumb Up

Re: makes Ballmer look like dead STEVE JOBS

Balmer has always looked like a dead Steve Jobs. He's butt ugly.

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Re: makes Ballmer look like dead STEVE JOBS

Ballance sheet does not give a crap about the reporting lines. That is why it is there. If they do not deliver in one year, and even earlier, it will be known and they will be punished.

And there is no more captive audience anywhere. It is really easy to switch from one platform to another. I used to be Windows person 100%, now I use windows only at work and that is because the company will not allow BYOD yet, but it will, soon.

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Re: The good news is...

Leaving Apple / Google / Facebook ?

I predict that in 10years we will be doing nostalgia pieces about the times when any kid in their bedroom could write an application and run it or sell it on any computer without having to have a deal with a publisher that is approved by one of the 2 companies that control access to all the computers and take 40% cut

Ironic that we have thrown off record companies, book publishers and movie studios and the same technology that allowed that is going to be locked up tighter than any robber baron ever dreamed of.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The good news is...

Exactly right. People wonder why so many kids today aren't getting into decent work. Unless they're on a computer science degree course they're not always coding.

When buying your computer in the 1980s you would get a programming manual with it. You didn't need to program it as there were games and software, but you did it out of fun.

It's part of a general trend of moving towards closed systems, "no user serviceable parts inside" was the start of the hardware decline and now it's software that is becoming a closed box.

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Paris Hilton

Re: The good news is...

Software becoming a closed box?

Sure, there is the ongoing patent lawyer cancer, but still...

You can have the source. It just won't be Windows. Does that hurt your feelings?

(Actually, you *can* have the Windows source if you put a bit of effort into it, I hear)

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Joke

In the process of this discussion

some people are going to miss Eadon

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Re: In the process of this discussion

BornToWin appears to be channelling him almost to perfection.

I say almost because his capslock works.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: In the process of this discussion

"some people are going to miss Eadon"

Seems unlikely.

There's no point having a point that makes sense, if the way you present it means most of your audience have already stopped listening.

He did have a point sometimes, but it was usually lost in the noise.

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Re: In the process of this discussion

Yeah where is he? It's been vaguely sane lately! Did the puncture repair kit for Rachel arrive?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: In the process of this discussion

"Yeah where is he?"

El'Reg fed him to the vultures.

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Devil

Re: In the process of this discussion

He who must not be named is back, hence the down votes

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Coat

I'm flying, Steve...

Is this the beginning of a rearranging-the-deckchairs-on-the-Titanic strategy?

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Windows

Re: I'm flying, Steve...

[I'm flying, Steve...

Is this the beginning of a rearranging-the-deckchairs-on-the-Titanic strategy?]

Perhaps more of a discussion on the best way of revarnishing the deckchairs...

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Anonymous Coward

Microsoft are going down the tubes

because Buffalo Bill's insisting on transferring all his money to Africa on his death, in some futile attempt to save likkle orphans, by giving them money (so they can buy guns and live to kill american citizens.)

As a result the American government's hiring in incompetent and compliant senior staff, to wind the company down, in such a way that customers remain with US companies. Then, when Gates dies, Microsoft shares will be worthless, and the whole transfer pricing from the US to the dark continent, will not be large.

Or at the very least, I can see no other explanation for Steve Ballmer.

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Trollface

Re: Microsoft are going down the tubes

This tunnel to Stormfront opened by APERTURE SCIENCE for your CONTINUED ENJOYMENT.

APERTURE SCIENCE. TUNNELLING TODAY WHERE HOLES WILL BE TOMORROW!

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Windows

Don't worry

not->

I can't believe enterprise agreements like these won't keep them alive for a while yet:

NHS Scotland

HMRC

Schools MoU

MoD

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Risky Stretegy

Abandon the things that you know make you money, in pursuit of things which might make you money, and you might break even.

Good luck Ballmer!

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Re: Risky Stretegy

So is doing the opposite. How is the English Electric Valve company EEV doing these days?

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Re: Risky Stretegy

[Re: Risky Stretegy

So is doing the opposite. How is the English Electric Valve company EEV doing these days?]

Apparently, fairly well - Wikipedia

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Risky Stretegy

Thank you for that, good to see that some of the former GEC empire can survive when freed from the disastrous leftovers of the Weinstock era.

Shame about the brand realignment (new name, new logo) - what's wrong with the old EE one?

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Go

Re: Risky Stretegy : Weinstock

In what way was the Weinstock disastrous. It had massive market share, operated in many sectors and had more money than most banks of the time - in fact they went to Arnie for loans

Now if you want to be correct, the post Arnie era is when the crash happened.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Risky Stretegy : Weinstock

"In what way was the Weinstock disastrous.?"

Massive market share? Yes, at one time. Massive diversified revenues too, at one time. And massive workforce. In the UK alone, they could have taken on all the relevant engineering graduates.

Many sectors and more money than the banks? Yes, at one time. But why?

Post Arnie crash? Yes. But the seeds were sown long before.

The main piece of the picture you're missing is the reasons for the above. One major reason for the eventual crash was a widespread HQ failure to invest adequately, in people, processes, technology, etc. Maybe even a failure of HQ to invest in a bit of market research and blue sky thinking ? (yukky expression, but...)

The ultra short version is that people like Weinstock led an "investment strike" in British industry in the 60s and beyond. Read on for a little more detail about GEC in particular.

Lack of investment by GEC HQ meant that there was cash sitting in the bank. Cash in the bank meant that shareholders got a nice dividend. Whenever the lack of investment meant lack of R+D was becoming critical, HQ could get the R+D on the market by buying yet another company or setting up yet another joint venture, and all would be OK again, wouldn't it?

Well no, not really, not in the longer term.

HQ's lack of investment became particularly visible outside the company at the time of the dot con boom. GEC hadn't really kept up with the rest of the carrier class market (cosy relationship with GPO/PO Telecom/BT being part of that, perhaps?). Anyway, having failed to develop competitive products of their own to compete in this massive new market, they had to buy technology in at at short notice and at the peak of the market. Two companies they bought were Fore and Raltec. Massively overpriced, did GEC no good at all, and highlighted to all concerned that GEC HQ had lost the plot.

Elsewhere, a fair amount of GEC had done nicely out of "cost plus" military contracts. "Cost plus" allegedly went away. Whoops.

Round about the same time as Fore and Raltec, GEC's main telecom customer, BT, was doing the procurement for "21CN", which was going to revolutionise BT's core network and their voice and data services. GEC ended up not being on the shortlisted suppliers. (BT later abandoned their 21CN voice rollout too).

Somewhere along the way, HQ's lack of investment combined with the complex and global nature of the corporate acquisitions (many of which hadn't been properly integrated organisationally, in part because it would have required investment) meant HQ didn't actually have a proper view of what was going on in the company financially, and in a rapidly changing company in many rapidly changing markets in multiple geographies, this was a bit of a snag. You won't normally hear me defend beancounters, but there is sometimes a role for bookkeepers and beancounters.

That's the short(ish) version. There's a book or two to be written, somewhere, if it's not already been done.

Any parallels with any Redmond-based technology companies currently not looking to be as blue chip as they used too? That's a different story.

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Re: Risky Stretegy : Weinstock

Was this story what you were 'predicting' at

http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/containing/1879716

?

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Conflict

More than ever I suspect this means the imminent death of RT. Why would the OS division want to keep 2 mobile operating systems going now? They will most likely concentrate on Windows Phone and Windows 8.

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Re: Conflict

I predict the opposite

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Re: Conflict

Agree that RT will stay and I think it should stay.

RT devices that could be immediately administered with the same management and monitoring tools as laptops and win8 tablets could do well and would push sales of Microsoft services and servers.

The expensive full fat windows tablets are a cludge in comparison, useful for the odd legacy or specialist application (not unlike kinect for windows and, I'd hazard, destop touchscreens outside the point of sale type setups for which they are currently used).

I think that it's a failing of Microsoft that they've put so many unnecessary blocks in the way of SMEs and home users making the most of Microsoft software and services. This makes it easier to switch to competitors. E.g. Directaccess restricted to Win 8 Enterprise Software Assurance version.

I get that they "charge what the market will bear", but within every business and home there are submarkets, so ability to upgrade licenses and features easily without having to re-buy everything would encourage people to stick with Microsoft.

Have there been any changes to the management of Microsoft Licensing as part of this shakeup?

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jai
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xbox marketing

marketing now rests with a completely different operation

So the same department for marketing xbox and games is also going to be marketing windows and sql server?

We're either going to get really funky adverts for Visual Studio or very very dull marketing for the next Halo... which'll be bland and devoid of any colour or 3D whatsoever

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Linux

"So, for example, the operating systems and engineering team under former Windows Phone chief Terry Myerson will work on Windows on mobile, PC and backend systems.

If you've been watching the munging-together of Windows for PCs and slabs and Windows for phones and have been either encouraged or horrified, expect more." -- When I read this, yesterday, on another website, I was horrified at the thought Microsoft has not learned from this lesson and is instead pushing them further down the line of horrifying mistakes. Where is the strategy for enterprise networks ? If they think that Windows Server + Metro Start screen is going to be accepted; they are completely deluded idiots. Somehow Microsoft are convinced that business types are immediately going to drop their Blackberries and iPhones and jump on the WinPhone wagon; it isn't very likely.

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They're trying to pull an Apple, it seems

By saying that they are 'listening' customer feedback, then ignoring it and doing what they wanted to anyway. That's why Metro is still there, annoying users in Win8.1.

But Apple had Jobs and the RDF, Microsoft not only lacks that but they're generally seen as the uncool guy. Even IBM can be seen as the cool guy these days, but that's because they changed a lot in the last 15 years or so.

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Paris Hilton

Ballmer's an overundulged, peter-unprincipled, marketing-major frat boy

==--

> If they think that Windows Server + Metro Start screen is going to be accepted; they are completely deluded idiots

THEY aren't deluded idiots; HE is a deluded idiot. He's a run-of-the-mill marketing guy who woke up one morning as the CEO. While driving to work, he thought "gee, if people saw the same simpleminded interface on their PC as we put on our telephones, then when they go to buy a telephone, they'll want one of ours because it looks like the same blocky screen they use at work!"

Later that day, when he unveils his new "vision of the future", a soon-to-be fired manager asks, "What about the users? They'll hate it! They'll prefer the functional, pc-centric interface we've developed over 30 years."

"SCREW the users!" [bangs fist on conference table] "They are locked in to windows! They have to buy what we give them!" [throws chair]

Ballmer sees it as obvious that he should do what's best for MICROSOFT, not what's best for his customers. That beguiling reasoning is poisoned by greed. It blinds bad managers because it's logical. But the problem isn't that Ballmer wants what's good for the company instead of what's good for the customers.

► The problem is that he thinks there's a difference.

(If there really IS a difference, then managers need to be fired). This psychosis only affects big corporations. Every mom 'n pop bakery store knows that you only bake cookies which people want to eat. You don't put fish heads on them even if you also own the seafood restaurant next door.

-- faye kane ♀ girl brain

sexiest astrophysicist you'll ever see naked

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"Demonic Zeal?

Um, I actually think they've done their homework and looked at their reasonably credible experience with the cloud. In beginning, each MSFT product team was independently trying to be a cloud hero and doing crazy things (like forking the SQL Server code line). Getting to the cloud was a scorecard goal, which of course made doing the right thing much less important. It doesn't take a genius to know that all these services need to line up and sensibly share vision and execution with respect to privacy, security (NSA issues aside), billing, and marketing.

The real jeopardy will come from pushing customers into licensing schemes they don't want or don't understand. The nice thing about a subscription is that you can elect not to renew if something more attractive comes along. It's sometimes even cost effective to abandon an agreement in mid-term. The crap thing about subscriptions is that, for many things, we'll end up sending more money to Microsoft than ever before.

I don't like the article claiming demonic zeal. If anything, that resembles the criticisms of Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, or even Bill Gates. We vilify them while quietly following their lead.

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Anonymous Coward

Wow, Ballmer is REALLY doing something this time

Microsoft is changing, Ballmer is doing it. NOT

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Let me guess

Windows will become a much simpler cross platform OS designed to support a browser, terminal command line along with a few simple apps & everything else will be cloud based subscription services.

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Anonymous Coward

Does the cult of managerialism die so easily?

Being engineering lead is a fundamentally good idea. Google and Apple have at least proven that, and they've also proven that engineers have marketable ideas. However, I fear the incumbent culture at Microsoft doesn't die so easily. That's not meant as a full on criticism of managers, many of whom were just getting on with their jobs within that culture. It's just that everyone from the top down is used to doing things in a certain way. The leaders are used to providing leadership in a certain way, while the lead are used to being, well, lead....

A bigger problem may well be the engineers themselves, many of whom probably don't realise they now need to grab their own jobs by the balls (perhaps to the extent of redefining themselves to survive), harder than they've ever had to before.

Of course, it could be one of 'those' changes. You know, one of those changes where there's a massive top down reorganisation, everyone is told how important it is to adapt to change, but where 99% of the staff mysteriously carry on doing exactly what they've doing already. Not everyone who preaches change has a pair of trousers to go with their mouth.

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"the biggest - and riskiest - in his company's history"

Has any risk that Steve Ballmer took been successful without losing billions of dollars first? I'm drawing a blank.

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FAIL

Microsoft FAIL

The thing to remember is that relevance trails revenues by a number of years ... in the tech industry it could even be a decade or more. IBM made megabucks for years after they became irrelevant. And that's pretty much the situation with Microsoft now. They may still have a stranglehold on the desktop, but they're no longer dictating the terms by which the entire industry operates.

Their death is not yet complete, though, and it's in everyone's best interest to see to it that Microsoft does receive the agonizing death it so richly deserves. There are still places where one can get sneered at for not exchanging documents in Microsoft formats, and believe it or not, there are still quite a few places where Exchange is believed to be a server program that actually works instead of failing all the time.

This is why I am happy to see Monkey Boy remaining in place as the CEO: he will continue to make major missteps. He clearly doesn't understand how to sell anything other than Windows and Office on Intel PC's. It's a shame for them, really -- they'd actually be in much better shape today if they had been broken up in the 1990's as originally intended. The divisions that produced something useful would be thriving today, and Windows would have been completely gone by now.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Microsoft FAIL

In which fantasy land do you live where there is a suitable enterprise ready alternative for exchange? Or for that matter, Word and Excel?

Are you seriously saying that one company dying is good for innovation and competition?

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FAIL

Re: Microsoft FAIL

There is only one person I have ever encountered who would substitute something like "Microsoft FAIL" for actual English.

Eadon, my lover, my darling, is that you?

Are you back from the dead?

EADON SUCCEED!

(See, I even remember how to talk in your own unique language substitute!)

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Anonymous Coward

Can't be worse than now...

Having contracted to Microsoft once and attended meetings in Redmond with a couple of product teams, I can say that changing to this structure can't be worse for their future success than their current one. In their current structure each separate division works hard to grab the resources and products of other divisions, or to block work by other divisions that they see as a threat to their own (look at how many products transferred from one division to another and then quietly died).

I'm sure that the new structure will bring it's own problems, but hopefully killing other divisions products will become a thing of the past.

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Steve Jobs

was always a marketing manager first and foremost. What made him different to most marketing managers is that he understood that there's a thing called the customer experience, and how you can influence it with product design, packaging, sales, and presentation.

He was very, very good at this. He wasn't good at imagining completely new things. I don't think Apple ever did that. But he was very talented at refining and declunkifying technology someone else had already developed, and rounding the corners enough to make it feel like a desirable lifestyle accessory.

Most marketing types understand none of these things. At best they have some vague idea customers exist, and they can filter feedback through their own prejudices when - if - they report to HQ.

At worst they think if they're shouty enough and smarmy enough their sheer awesomeness can make customers suck up whatever crap they're selling.

Guess which description fits Ballmer.

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Random retrenchments would be good

For decades they've been running a promotion/release system (stack ranking) that entrenched people who's primary skill was at not getting fired. They need to balance that with some technical-managment turnover. Randomly firing 20% of the workforce would be a sensible start.

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Paris Hilton

"Collaboratation issues"

An interesting neologism...

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Facepalm

Niggle

Steve Jobs was NOT a technology CEO — he was a salesman/designer who recognized good tech. As a salesman, he was among the best...

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