back to article Microsoft snorefest: For crying out loud, Nadella – just channel Ballmer!

Once upon a time, around every November, Steve Ballmer visited the UK on an official, annual state visit. Microsoft parked a giant metaphor DeLorean at the entrance to its Future Decoded conference in London Microsoft’s ex-CEO took time out from meeting customers to meet selected national press or trades to whom he’d say …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    To be fair(ish)

    you went on the Monday, which is the fluffy day, surely the Wednesday would make more sense?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft are struggling to remain relevant.

    They have no USP for their products since to stay relevant they make their software available on the iPad and iPhone often before their own mobile OS.

    It's all very reminiscent of Blackberry who made their USP (BBM) available for other platforms.

    1. Zippy's Sausage Factory

      I'd agree.

      There's nothing that Microsoft now do that other people aren't doing - often better and/or cheaper. Sure, they're sitting on a big cash pile right now, but that's dangerous in that it breeds complacency. And Nadella doesn't seem to be sure what Microsoft is supposed to actually be doing, which is worrying.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        There's nothing that Microsoft now do that other people aren't doing

        ...often better and/or cheaper


        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: There's nothing that Microsoft now do that other people aren't doing

          Er... Don't you mean 'Skype for business'?

  3. dogged

    "snore" "boring" "contradiction"

    "not relevant" "other platforms" "Ballmer"

    Dammit, my "Gavin Clarke Microsoft Article" Bingo sheet came with "doomed" on it.

    I'd better just wait for a commentard.

    1. Chika

      Re: "snore" "boring" "contradiction"

      You want a commentard? Trouble is that it's 'ard to comment on a non-story like this.

  4. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Simple maths

    Our partner friend reckoned Nadella’s done no harm to the Microsoft business since February 2014…After nearly two years, it's time for Nadella to update his message and channel his inner Ballmer.

    I just checked my calendar and I think it's November 2014 which according to my calculations is 9 months.

    Everyone knows that Nadella was given the job when Microsoft couldn't recruit a "champion" CEO from outside. Still, sometimes boring CEOs are just what you need. Ballmer was responsible for some spectacularly expensive acquisitions that have yet to pay off: AQuantive, Skype, Nokia's handset business. Minecraft is small change next to those.

    1. Should b Working

      Re: Simple maths

      Agree. Gates was the techie, Balmer the salesman, and Nadella is the strategist. They can't all be extroverts like Balmer.

      Gates was never particularly engaging when he talked either.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Simple maths

        "Gates was the techie, Balmer the salesman, and Nadella is the strategist. They can't all be extroverts like Balmer."

        Speaking as a business strategist for a very large company, and having worked with a whole range of CEOs and MDs in different sectors, I can assure you that most strategists make poor CEOs.

    2. h4rm0ny

      Re: Simple maths

      I always liked watching Ballmer talk or in interview. I never understood the seething hatred some had. Much of what has been going on at Microsoft over the last year will still be things Ballmer set in motion. Big projects have long lead times.

  5. Grikath Silver badge

    "They gave us windows 8"

    Are you serious? the Cult of Jobs is bad, but could you possibly plant your lips any firmer on Ballmers' puckered brown rosette?

    1. Rosie Davies

      Re: "They gave us windows 8"

      I think you might find that sentence qualifies as sarcasm. El Reg, being British, does quite a bit of sarcasm.


      1. Grikath Silver badge

        Re: "They gave us windows 8" @ Rosie.

        I have, very carefully, re-read that entire section of the article. And yes.. after all these years I'm pretty well versed in El Regs' ways of hyperbole and verbal subterfuge.

        But alas... I wish the author employed some nefarious style scheme I wasn't familiar with as yet, but unfortunately it's a sad, sad case of an el Reg contributor going $Boss in a tale from Simon.

        Please.. Someone at Vulture Central get the Prod...

    2. plrndl

      Re: "They gave us windows 8"

      Can they please take it back now.

  6. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge


    Microsoft SHOULD be boring. I want open, working, reliable stuff at reasonable prices not some super-gay-colored SHIT clearly marketed to the ADHD/MOBILTARD generation that needs PIZZAZ and WHEEEE SMILING PEOPLE bullshitand RETARDED HIPSTER C-OF-SOMETHING doing gorilla dances and DIANETICS CONVINCE-O-SPEECHES in public.

    OK, Satya, we’ll bite. Boring – but tell us how Microsoft can make them emotionally appealing?

    SOD THAT! Emotional appeal can be had at the porn movies. Excitement can be had when watching share tickers (yet another industry that went from BORING to WHEEE!! EXITING!!! for the good of a very few of us.)


    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: BORING IS GOOD!!!

      Emotional appeal can be had at the porn movies.

      Really? Is this your mac by any chance? ;-)

  7. Phil_Evans

    Blue Sky thinking

    The last platform that MSFT has to defend the mountain of blamanche that is their mobile/device strategy is probably Azure. It gets little or no press yet is functionally the logical road ahead for the legion of Windows Servers out there today in biz land. Ultimately, the same infrastructure supports 'productivity' if the same is actually data and I/O

    Whilst scampering around trying to out-cool the rest of the hipsters, Nadella would do well to nod to this from time to time.

    It's also quite good. In an non-emotionally appealing way.

    1. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

      Re: Blue Sky thinking

      I agree, there's a hell of a lot of potentially engineering goodness to be found in Azure, but it's not me. Everything good in MY universe is about me, Me, ME! Oh, I forgot. That's Apple's shtick.

      But to continue, boring was always IBM, Burroughs, Data General, all those suit and ties firms, most of which are gone and even IBM is now trying to find a paddle while the financial wrecking crews are circling the lifeboat as crewmembers are flung over the side to distract them from the core issue. Why anyone should buy anything from IBM? So. Why should anyone buy from Microsoft. And how do you justify it, speaking as past project lead, management, and CIO? At least with Ballmer, he took care of the sales side for those not bought off with addressing the boring stuff.

      (Besides, being in the same room with Gates resulted in me running a loving thumb along my knife. Not even Ballmer evoked that and I loathe sales people. Strange that.)

    2. Tom Betz

      Re: Blue Sky thinking

      Blue Sky thinking is great when the nuts and bolts work correctly.

      For example, one of the more attractive elements of Office 365 is the for-all-intents-and-purposes unlimited synced cloud storage that is One Drive for Business. However, from a corporate standpoint, it is also one of the most annoying elements, as the location of the local store can't be relocated from the user profile; hence One Drive for Business (and not for Business, for that matter) is incompatible with another feature of Windows important to the corporate world, roaming profiles.

      This while Box and Dropbox and Google Drive are all happy to permit you to put your local store practically anywhere, even on mapped shares! So these products are more compatible with Windows than Microsoft's own product is.

      And I don't see Nadella whipping his teams to correct this ridiculous oversight any time soon.

  8. ElNumbre


    I was quite surprised how dull his talk was. 24hrs later, and I'm struggling to remember a single element. of his scripted Q&A. It it wasn't Satya, I'd of walked out.

    Paxo and Geldoff were very good - I was quite impressed at how eloquently Sir Bob spoke about education driving African development. Dame Stella was interesting from a personal perspective and the other three felt a bit sales-pitchy.

    That said, Satya (and therefore the rest of the Microsoft collective) seems to get that Windows is not a USP anymore and the next 10-20 years in computing is to be driven by 'rent as you go' compute capability and are addressing it with the "well, you're using Microsoft servers and services, you may as well use our cloud because look how easy it is" answer.

    Not sure I'll rush back next year.

    1. CCCP

      Re: Heh

      You lost me at "I'd of...". Pox on your English.

      1. wdmot

        Re: Heh

        Right, it should have been I'd've.

  9. John Sanders

    This is Microsoft we're talking about

    The future for Microsoft is like this:

    If someone else comes with a clever brand new market idea, (IE: the internet, smartphones, consoles, et all)

    We'll throw endless amounts of cash into creating our own version of it.

    In the mean time we will kill as many old APIs, programs and platforms as we see fit.

    There, that's MS's vision of the future, one where they dominate, because they have to.

    Why would anyone in this day and age would pay attention to MS in other areas than how expensive and confusing their licensing is, its a mystery to me.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: This is Microsoft we're talking about


      Why would anyone in this day and age would pay attention to MS in other areas than how expensive and confusing their licensing is, its a mystery to me.

      Isn't that their key modus operandii? Confuse the hell out of everyone with their archane licenisng and when you get audited by FACT/BSA etc you are found to be non-compliant. Then you pay them lots of money to get compliant. Then the next year it is repeated all over again...

  10. DJV Silver badge

    "The genius of Ballmer"

    The WHAT of Ballmer?

    Now I've heard it all!

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: "The genius of Ballmer"

      2014: People that can be spotted on facebook are "genius".

      Get with the times.

  11. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Something other than "productivity"

    It needs to be something like "creativity" but that's already been taken. They need a thesaurus.

    Fecundity is a synonym of productivity. Maybe that'll work.

    Microsoft, used by fecundists everywhere.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "We've seen the purchase of mega game factory Minecraft. "

    Minecraft is a game... Mojang was the company that made minecraft, Mojang's only real success, and a game most of us already own and wont be buying again.

  13. Arctic fox

    "The genius of Ballmer was he was a general "

    Oh hello Vulture Central do make your minds up with regard to what the current message is. The whole line you took whilst Ballmer was the boss was, roughly summed up, "Monkey Boy, Idiot, ho, ho, ho." Now he is suddenly a "general" because you want to snide the (still) new CEO? Please, this article was poor stuff, to say the least of it. Nadella has been in the job about 10 months and so far the numbers appear to be pointing in the right direction (from Redmond's point of view). I do not pretend to know whether that will last or not but this extremely thin piece does not impress at all.

    1. Captain DaFt

      Re: "The genius of Ballmer was he was a general "

      Hear, Hear!

  14. trance gemini

    So he didn't announce that he's gay?

    MS PR dep dropped the ball on the G-bomb there then ... tut tut

  15. thames


    Balmer wasn't inspiring. He was a buffoon. The press loved him because he was always good for a laugh, and that sold newspapers (or web page ad impressions).

    Microsoft is a boring enterprise legacy vendor. Their customers are cut from the same cloth as the ones that run boring legacy Cobol programs on IBM mainframes. These customers don't want visions of the future. They simply want to continue to run the same software they've had for the past couple of decades and can't justify replacing. That may not be exciting, but businesses will pay good money for it.

    If Nadella wants to do everyone a favour, he can bin the phones, tablets, Bing, etc., etc., etc., and embrace Microsoft's boring, profit generating, enterprise legacy vendor reality. Microsoft doesn't have the latest cool Mongo-Node-on-Rails touch enabled thingy? Neither do Oracle or IBM, and you don't see them running around like chickens with their heads cut off in panic as a result.

    Sorry, but not everyone can be, or even ought to be, Silicon Valley start ups with cool logos, vague business plans, and no profits. If being boring makes Reg journos sad, well Nadella is there to make profits for shareholders, not good headlines for the press.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The increase in our share price,

    Since Satya took over, is anything but boring.....

  17. Sirius Lee

    So what you're really saying is

    That Ballmer used to do your job for you now you actually have to work to find something to write about. Tough, that. After all, who wants a CEO that stays on his message and tries to make sure the organization is delivering. Much better the CEO who shoots the company from the hip, the general who makes decisions based on the last person he spoke to. Microsoft is a company that sells products to companies. It is boring. Not so many of those cool marketing gimmicks the retailers need to think up. Seems like your life just lost a little of its emotional appeal.

  18. Andrew Johns

    The fake CEO is more interesting than the real one

    Microsoft's Chief Envisioning Officer, Dave Coplin who "interviewed" Satya, often jokes in his talks that his job is the closest he would get to being CEO. Having sat through a number of talks by Coplin over the years, I felt sorry that it would fall to him to be part of this charade.

    I walked out before the end. If you want someone to talk about Microsoft's vision of the future, have Coplin speak, he'll do it with far more humour and engagement. If you want to be bored senseless by someone repeatedly talking about the importance of the cloud, get Nadella.

    Still he wasn't the worst of the Monday/Wednesday keynotes. The Yo Founder on Wednesday trying to find as many ways to say that Yo was a notification system, that businesses could use to notify their users, and that the future of Yo was more people using it. Great. Really insightful. Be honest, it was an April fools joke that you've spent 6 months trying to convince people is a legitimate service.

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