BALLMER: 'WE MADE MORE MONEY THAN ALMOST ANYBODY ON THE PLANET'
and set the IT industry back by twenty years
Outgoing Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer may have egg on his face when it comes to missteps like Windows Vista, but he has no regrets about what he saw as his real job at Redmond: pulling in profits. "How do you make money? How do you make money? How do you make money?" Ballmer bellowed in a new interview with Mary Jo Foley for …
and set the IT industry back by twenty years
"and set the IT industry back by twenty years"
Pretty much what I was going to say.
Considering they have had the revenue of a small country from our pockets what a pile of shit we have to show for it after all these years.
That's not true. If it was, XP wouldn't be EOL.
In their defence, they did have tablets on the market the thick end of a decade before Apple. WM6 was an entirely useable mobile phone app (which allowed easy development and deployment of apps), and the GOOD versions of Windows (98SE, XP w/SP>2, latterly Win7) have been solid OSes.
PC Gaming means Windows Gaming, too- Linux isn't there yet, and most of the progression they've got is WINE. Which doesn't support DirectX past V9 (stopping a lot of games running).
At no point has it been as tekky as Linux (which is great for some things but has a vertical learning curve for others) or as restrictive as the various Mac offerings, and I can't think of a time when I wanted my computer to do something and couldn't make it do it.
Without Microsoft, we'd be in a far bigger mess. Though we'd have been far, far better off without Ballmer.
"GOOD versions of Windows (98SE, XP w/SP>2, latterly Win7)"
MS have a history of releasing unfinished products which the masses have rushed in sheep like droves to buy. Usually a Service pack or two down the line, the product is what it should have been on release. A least with a Linux desktop, you know it's work in progress, and now regular "Service Packs" from the commercial players.
"PC Gaming means Windows Gaming, too- Linux isn't there yet"
There has been no alternative to the defacto standard until recently. Valve & Steam are changing that for good. Most casual gaming now done on tablets/phones, so PC gaming probably peaked.
"At no point has it been as tekky as Linux"
Only because it's been a black box & the internals not generally available.
One trawl through the Windows registry & it's tekky enough.
All depends on what you're doing on each system I guess.
"Without Microsoft, we'd be in a far bigger mess."
Really? Say IB/M with OS/2 had won the day - IBM had a reputation for well engineered stuff.
Or, if Linux had been out earlier & got commercial backing sooner, it might be the standard desktop, just as Android has become the defacto standard smart phone O/S.
Now this is a post I can not only agree with, but also applaud. It's factual, objective, and in no way fanboish. In fact I couldn't have said it better myself!
> In their defence, they did have tablets on the market the thick end of a decade before Apple.
Simply not true. Apple's Newton was released in 1987.
> WM6 was an entirely useable mobile phone app (which allowed easy development and deployment of apps),
Not according to:
Microsoft made an error in making its early tablets and phones have a desktop-like UI. Later they made a mistake by making its desktops have a tablet/phone UI.
" WM6 was an entirely useable mobile phone app (which allowed easy development and deployment of apps),"
I'm sorry. I must respectfully disagree.
My sister had a Windows 6 phone and it was the most user hostile piece of hardware I've ever had the misfortune to encounter.
I have no opinion as to how easy it was to develop for but as for it being a good product for the end user.. no.
She hated the thing and was trapped in an AT&T contract. I was trying to convince her to accidentally lose it under the wheels of a bus one dark and slushy evening so she could replace it with something which worked.
Say what? A decade before Apple's tablets? Remember Apple had the Netwon pad in the 1990s. Yes, it was a huge flop. But earlier Windows tablets were neither a very good sell.
"PC Gaming means Windows Gaming, too- Linux isn't there yet, and most of the progression they've got is WINE. Which doesn't support DirectX past V9 (stopping a lot of games running)."
How is this the fault of anyone but Microsoft - remember they more or less crushed OpenGL take up for many years so that is the reason we have been stuck on bloody windows for gaming!
Thank god for Valve and their efforts to revive open standards, long may they continue.
Apple's Newton was a PDA, not a tablet.
>Apple's Newton was a PDA, not a tablet.
While technically true, it could also be argued that the "tablets" spawned from early MS efforts were just laptops with touch screens and were also not tablets by today's definitions.
IIRC, the Newton was the first device to be referred to as a PDA and those early touchscreen laptops were the first to be referred to as tablets, but in reality there are a lot of semantics and fine lines between the definitions of these devices.
In fact, these days, I would tend to say that a tablet is a touchscreen device with no permanently attached keyboard (this is not intended to be a complete definition, sit down at the back) and that would exclude those early laptop derived machines.
>MS have a history of releasing unfinished products which the masses have rushed in sheep like droves to buy.
Like sheep? Er, People and businesses bought new computers, and those computers came with Windows. That the software they used, office suites, accountancy packages, DTP, CAD and games ran on Windows, was important too. Those are real people you choose to patronise, using computers for tasks related to their job or business, or for entertainment. That doesn't make them sheep.
Quite right. But it doesn't fit with the narative of "everything that MS has done ever is wrong and they've stifled the development of computing" which seems to be popular here and particularly in this thread.
Just look at the voting patterns - say something slagging off MS and it's 20 upvotes, say something neutral or even positive and it's the same in downvotes. It's rather pathetic tribalism which serves to alienate FOSS and Linux from the "sheep" thus preventing its uptake more widely. Would you use an OS where the loudest cheer leaders spent much of their time telling you how stupid you were? Would you use an OS where the same people go on obviously incorrect rants about how MS are the worst thing ever, despite the fact that they presided over the main desktop developments in computing for the last 20odd years. (I daresay it would have been someone else if not MS, probably IBM with OS2, but it wasn't.)
I make a fair chunk of my living from Linux, I'm a backup guy the vast majority of backup servers I see are Windows based, the next amount are Linux based. Linux has a good foothold in corporate because these sort of forums don't influence corporate decision makes. They do, however have some affect on the general perception of Linux (and other FOSS) with the more general user and I think that a number of the more shouty zealoty types are more damage than good to the movement as a whole.
> Apple's Newton was a PDA, not a tablet.
That is like saying that Microsoft had the first GUI because the others weren't called 'Windows'.
Terminology may have changed but functionality hasn't.
No, it's more like saying a microcomputer is a mainframe because they are similar in functionality.
I owned a Newton, it was all geared around personal data management, it was not geared around being a general purpose computing device.
IIRC PenPoint was first, I tried it out during a conference in Boston in 91 or 92, and immideately fell in love. That looked like the future to me.
Then, Microsoft introduced Pen Windows (or Windows for Pen, or whatever it was called). Like many others, my employer decided to go with MS instead. Microsoft abandoned that version of windws soon after, it's man purpose apparently being nothing but to kill cmpetition.
I, too, believe they have held up computing for about twenty years, at least in some areas.
> No, it's more like saying a microcomputer is a mainframe because they are similar in functionality.
What's your point?
'Mainframes' and even SperComputers are now being built using 'microcomputer' CPUs.
> I owned a Newton, it was all geared around personal data management, it was not geared around being a general purpose computing device.
In what way is an iPad _not_ "geared around personal data management"?
The Newton had various 'general purpose' applications. You wouldn't run a web server* on it, but then you probably wouldn't on a iPad or Surface.
"""Works word processor and the Newton Internet Enabler, as well as the inclusion of bundled 3rd party applications, such as the QuickFigure Works spreadsheet (a "lite" version of Pelicanware's QuickFigure Pro), Pocket Quicken, the NetHopper web browser, and the EnRoute email client."""
* My Nokia N800 does run a web server.
"At no point has it been as tekky as Linux "
Really? Did you ever try installing USB on Windows 98?
"Or, if Linux had been out earlier & got commercial backing sooner, it might be the standard desktop, just as Android has become the defacto standard smart phone O/S."
The very first version of Linux released in 1991, although that did apparently require some compiling and linking that put it beyond the abilities of most users. Apparently the first major release of Linux was in 1992.
Although. having said that, you are right. Linux needed someone commercial and well known to back it. Someone like Dell or IBM. It does seem, however, that the PC market was VERY pro microsoft and considered any competing OS vendor to be the work of Satan at the time. Dell and IBM did start actively supporting Linux toward the end of the 90s, but even that's had a few problems. Dell has done some sterling work getting Linux onto people's desktops, but seems mainly interested in using as a server OS and IBM sold their PC division to Lenovo, who don't seem to be actively pushing Linux,
As for the assertion we'd be in a mess if Microsoft hadn't been around, well, personally, I don't believe that is true. I believe that had Windows failed for whatever reason, someone (Apple, Novell, IBM etc) would have "picked up the ball" and written what would become a dominant OS. The potential market was too huge for people to ignore.
Why is Baller saying we made more money? Is he counting his incompetence not being great enough to kill the golden cow as a blessing. Fact is Billy Gates left that company in a foolproof place to print money and Ballmer has done precious little to get it in an even better place. Yes didn't screw it up but that's about all he did.
Generating a steady revenue, that's the real challenge. One which Microsoft could only manage from a monopoly (or power) position, but the very moment when some other competitors started to appear they had a problem(tm).
Can you imagine the pain when they found out that Open Source couldn't be bought? That had to hurt!
If only they actually learned something from their mistakes, but interviews like these make me seriously doubt that.
it is perhaps why in this enlightened age all public expenditure on IT should be FOSS. Simple.
When the govt wants something special > $SmallPurchaseLimit they can specify agnostic functional logic (i.e. less "requires reading of $proprietary format" and NO "requires WRITING of $proprietary format ), and all code reverts to Govt. i.e US the public.
Small IT developers are under these rules (is this right?), why aren't big companies for Govt contracts?
Is this too idealistic? I would be interested to hear from those who know better as to why this may not be possible?
It is great for big and SME companies to hire loads of people to build cool stuff to serve their customers. But with the sheer quantity of cash spent on some of these public projects, I imagine it would be easily possible to refine Liberoffice or any other FOSS tool to be "sufficient for govt".
Will it be easy? No. Will it be quick? No. Computing has come a very long way since low bar was set by Win31 etc... And yet the trenches for technology are being dug deeper, rather than building amazing architectures.
Something has appeared in the last year or so that may change everything. There is a project called Hybris (libhybris) which permits android and gnu-linux to share apps.
On my phone that gives me on-demand access to the massive Android app space.
What would this do for the smallbiz office tools market?
Your statement "generating a steady revenue, that's the real challenge" is surely true, but even the best manager can't maintain a monopolistic revenue stream forever.
The only way forward is to hold on to the monopoly as long as possible -- and that is something Ballmer did quite well (see 1st comment for the sentiment he earned for this). Once the monopoly is gone, the extraordinary earnings will be replaced with quite ordinary earnings. The big question is whether the company can survive without the monopoly.
Not even making a steady revenue. Today companies that think Profit, Profit , Profit will start to crumble.
The difference with Apple and Google is they are risk takers who try new and innovative ideas with no guarantee or even a mapped out path to profit.
Other tech companies have built first and then looked at how to profit later and sometimes make a killing out of it (even without actually making the profits).
It epitomises MS when Ballmer talks about wringing every last cent out of his customers for profit. You start to hate your customers and they start to hate you (look at Ryanair!) and eventually your profits plummet.
Do a bottom down approach, treat your customers as key and provide them what they really want. Despite many hating Apple, they have a large loyal fanbase. Apple have created a magic aura about themselves.
Nobody ever 'loved' Microsoft or their products as far as I have seen.
Psychopaths only love themselves.
But it smells bad, plus it is detrimental to human and wallet health.
Thank you for smoking Microsoft
You really are trying to go all out to become the new Eadon, aren't you?
"Microsoft's closing stock price was actually higher on Ballmer's first day as chief exec than it is today"
The price is less, but when I looked at the history, there was also a stock split. This implies that the stock is less than twice as valuable...
With Vista, Windows 8, Surface and Windows/RT, Silverlight, and any version of Windows Phone, Ballmer should be justly proud of how he and his company have helped Apple and Android.
...The unholy mating of Steve Jobs and Homer Simpson.
And not in a good way.
There's a good way? I mean even if it was a holy mating, what could be the good way?
I'm not sure, but it probably involves mixing common household chemicals in the right proportions to get a good KABOOM....
...and lots of powdered sugar too
That sounds more like a recipe for a decent doughnut (or donut if you prefer the American flavour)...
I'm going to miss the big lug. Especially on YouTube.
It's not like he's dead!
I'm sure he'll rear his shiny head in front of cameras again. The real question: How many will be attached to Microkia WP8 phones?
Not to worry ... Ballmer won't be dropping out of sight anytime soon. American media are enamored of rich celebrities ... how else does one explain the 'Donald'* who pops up for comic relief at the oddest moments?
(*Trump, D., comb-over buffoon, possible only in America.)
And I thought you'd have to be more innovative and take risks.
Ballmer took over as CEO in January 2000, since then there has been ONE stock split, in 2003. There were 8 under Bill Gates, so the author got it wrong (the Fortune article doesn't even mention stock splits, so I blame the Reg author)
The share price when Ballmer took over was around its all time high. If you adjust it for splits and dividends, it ranged from 36 to 41, it is currently 37.61 - with several points of its recent increase probably due to the announcement of Ballmer's retirement!
The adjusted price takes into account all the dividends paid out, so the value of the company is lower or at best the same as when he took over. However, during that time the PC market more than doubled in size, and huge new markets like smartphones and tablets grew up from nothing. Microsoft shareholders realized ZERO gain from all that. He's an utter failure by any measure.
Was Vista a Turkey post SP2? IMHO, NO! Now Windows 8 There is no justification at all for the existence of this Turd of OS. That breaks every conceived concept EVER, and very badly at that too...
Ballmer cost Microsoft massively more than he ever made them. He reigned over a period that, even to this day, sees market share thrown away on the back of a tactical, barrow boy focus on the short term. How much of Microsoft's enterprise advantage has been thrown away by the sales targets of individual product groups being allowed to run roughshod over customers' long term strategies? Add barrow boy sales mentality to MBA-style segmentation and you end up with an amalgam of process-bound bureaucracies that will sell their own grandmothers to hit their short term targets. Ballmer fundamentally failed to recognise what had made Microsoft successful in the first place. RIP the creative campus culture...
"SHAGGING TIME! SHAGGING TIME! SHAGGING TIME! SHAGGING TIME! SHAGGING TIME!"
(Wrings sweat from shirt, hurls bed through window...)
"KISS! KISS! KISS!"
(Gentle readers, we'll protect your sensibilities by drawing a veil over the next 30 seconds ... )
"CIGARETTE! CIGARETTE! CIGARETTE! CIGARETTE! Everybody wants to make love, but nobody ever made so much monkey-love as me! I'm proud of that! Aaaaaooooogahhh!"
The IT industry goes through massive and very fundamental shifts of technology and we're in the middle of one right now.
It's almost exactly the same as the last major paradigm shift that created Microsoft in the first place - the rise of the desktop PC. IBM really didn't understand how fundamental that shift was and concentrated on the wrong areas of business and ended up being sidelined by a smaller upstart : Microsoft.
Just because a company's big doesn't mean that it's necessarily going to be the industry leader forever. I don't think Microsoft's going to disappear anytime soon. However, I think it's going to vanish into the background similar to the way IBM has.
Windows 8 really hasn't done what it was supposed to do. On the desktop it's just weird looking and has pushed a lot of people away from upgrading. So, a lot of businesses are still using Windows 7 and a lot of consumers seem to be actively looking at Apple's OS X based machines as the interface is appealing and the form factors of the machines is very attractive.
On the mobile Windows 8 again seems to have missed the goal entirely. The iPhone seems to have cornered the less adventurous market where people are looking for a proven, solid, slick interface and device and don't necessarily want to do a lot of tweaking and Android's now absolutely dominant in the rest of the market.
I don't really see Windows 8 mobile generating a big enough ecosystem of apps to pull people away from iPhone and Android to be perfectly honest. Although, they may yet manage to convince IT managers to force business users to use Win8 phones, especially as Blackberry fades away.
I think really we're seeing a battle for consumers between Apple and Google and to be honest, I'm not even sure how big a battle that is. Apple's got a nice, profitable chunk of the highest spending part of the market and seems to be able to retain that while Google's got a much bigger, broader market which suits it as it ultimately it makes money from ads and services.
I think the saviour of Microsoft on the consumer market's going to be some kind of building on the Xbox brand. I'm baffled as to why they haven't launched "the X Phone".
It's pretty clear that their powerful consumer brand is X Box not Windows!
But, in general this whole shift is nothing new. Technologies shift and huge businesses can find themselves obsolete in a matter of months.
Even Apple sort of missed the boat when Spotify and other streaming services came along and are only playing catch up now. Same with the Kindle - neither Apple nor Google seem to have really seen that coming.
At least it keeps our lives interesting!
re the Xphone
It would poisen the xbox brand. And the xbox brand is shakey enough without dumping a failing and unloved mobile OS on to it.
Well, of Microsoft's existing brands, Xbox is by far the most consumer-focused one and it has huge traction in the gaming world. Gamers are genuinely hugely influential too in terms of technology purchases. They tend to make a lot of tech purchases themselves and are often the person in a household / group who will influence others' technology choices.
So, from a pure marketing perspective, I think Microsoft is wasting its time trying to pitch Windows as a major brand. Most people see Windows as something to do with desktop / laptop PCs and work/office environments and it's really not a very 'exciting' brand.
Part of Apple's 'cool' is that it's associated itself deeply with the creative media industry and I think the company really understands how much that association is worth in terms of influential trend setters being seen with Apple gear. It's also not something that most of us associate with boring work environments. It's all about entertainment devices iPods, iPads, iPhones and its desktop platform isn't the one most of us use in the office.
To me, when I see a START button, I immediately think of Outlook and emails from my boss.
"Pulling In Profits One Inherent Monopoly Property" ~ another corrected headline
for more "Another_Corrected_Headline" topics, see FauxScienceSlayer
And yet he says that like it's a good thing.
What he is blind to is that the very aim of making so much money has now crippled their ability to make money long-term. Especially the migraine-inducing licensing that is designed to extract the maximum possible cash from every customer - the VM licensing article on elReg today says it much better than I could.
Now that Microsoft is addicted to the money they have become incapable of making products that are a good value-proposition. Microsoft stuff may be inexpensive in its early versions, but that is only when that product is struggling for market share. It's the inevitability of getting milked once the product has gained traction in the market that makes me completely disinterested in anything new from Microsoft.