back to article Ballmer goes to LSE as internal doc calls for radical overhaul of MS

Microsoft is privately telling its staff that the company’s way of doing business needs to be re-addressed – the only trouble being that public knowledge of that fact has been evident for some time now. The software vendor’s CEO Steve Ballmer was in London this morning speaking at the London School of Economics to a student …


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  1. The BigYin

    MS to change tack?

    You mean they will stop patenting the obvious?

    Stop suing world+dog for writing software?

    Stop trying to destroy open software?

    Stop trying to destroy open standards?

    Stop trying to break interoperability?

    Stop producing software with proprietary extensions (IE, all versions)?

    Stop producing software with gaping security holes?

    Stop believing the sun shines out their collective fundament?


    Thought not.

  2. Rogerborg

    I almost feel sorry for Uncle Fester

    Almost. He's clearly well out of his depth. He's as sociopathic as Gates, but without the innate cunning, or the ability to tell a turd from a curly wurly.

    Then I remember that he's running a company that spends $9,500,000,000 (count those zeros) every year in R&D and produces... uh... the Zune. Kin. WinCE 7 - the OS You Should Choose In Case Something Bad Happens To You. Windows 7 - Now Nearly As Good as XP Again.

    There isn't enough FAIL for this man, and the sooner he's replaced with a chair-throwing chimp, the better for Microsoft investors.

    1. Giles Jones Gold badge

      Gates was a 'geek'

      Gates could code and in assembly language. The work him and others did on Altair basic was pretty good, using tricks to cram in as much in such a limited device.

      Ballmer is just a numbers droid and he isn't head of Microsoft on merit, he just knew Gates and was there at the start of Microsoft.

      If you look at the income Microsoft generate, it's still largely Office and Windows. You don't really need to do anything to keep those two bringing in the dough. Certainly just a refresh with some new ideas every couple of years.

    2. Bugs R Us
      Gates Halo

      You forget...

      ...that is took nearly 10 years for XP to become a stable OS. Windows 7 from the offset was more secure and stable. It only took the 2 years or so of Vista for Windows 7 to be improved vastly.

      People also seem to forget that there are hundreds of thousands of machines in everyday public use from ticket machines to EPOS to public information systems that successfully run on Windows variants. Add that to the hundreds of millions of PCs already running Windows. That's dominance.

      1. W. Keith Wingate


        I agree that Windows is everywhere, but I'm not sure about the qualifier "successfully".

        When the cash-register hangs at your local checkout line, I wonder how often that's Windows?

        I often see information kiosks in BSOD (or equivalent mode). I know many that might have been potential customers of the Ford Fusion Hybrid, .... until they heard (not sure about this, it may be a rumor spread by General Motors) that it runs Windows, though hopefully not for anything mission critical like say, the ABS.

        OTOH, there's lots of embedded Linux out there, nearly invisible, I suppose, because it just works.

        1. Alastair 7

          Except that...

          "OTOH, there's lots of embedded Linux out there, nearly invisible, I suppose, because it just works."

          Thing is, that's not even true. Yes, you do see more Windows kiosks failing, but because there are more Windows kiosks. I've taken a lot of flights that use a Linux-based entertainment center in the back of the seat, and I've lost count of the number of times I've had to ask them to restart mine because it's frozen or died completely.

          Basically, these kiosks are only as good as the people that program them. Sadly, the people that program them are often not great. Hardly surprising, as they're never system-critical, so they never have to attract the kind of ace programmers that other systems do. The underlying OS has nothing to do with that, though.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Except that...


            "OTOH, there's lots of embedded Linux out there, nearly invisible, I suppose, because it just works."

            Thing is, that's not even true.


            I would have to agree. I don't know what OSs my TVs run (an LG and a Toshiba) but they have both crashed. Unresponsive to any buttons or the remote, had to have their plugs physically pulled (as there's no other way to turn a TV off these days!) Now they might run Linux, they might not. But whatever they run (and it's not Windows) they do crash from time to time. I wonder how common this is.

            1. Nigel 11
              Thumb Down

              Re; Re: Except that ...

              If you can't find out what OS it's running, you can't *begin* to tell whether it crashed because of hardware failing underneath it, or the application code that you interface to failing (leaving a perfectly functioning O/S lacking any input device to tell it to abort the application).

              If it's displaying BSOD or Linux oops screens, you can rule out the app, but faulty hardware may well be to blame.If you've got two of them with identical firmware and only one is unreliable, it almost certainly is the hardware at fault.

              Still, there are a lot of routers, PVRs and suchlike running LInux. If there is any router that runs embedded Windoze, I've never heard of it (and frankly, if I had heard of it, that would be a reason I wouldn't buy it! ). Why would anyone pay good money to Microsoft for an inefficient, bloated, x86-only, closed-source, programmer-hostile O/S, when you can have Linux for free?

          2. Anonymous Coward

            @ alistair7

            In response to the comment: "OTOH, there's lots of embedded Linux out there, nearly invisible, I suppose, because it just works."

            "Thing is, that's not even true. Yes, you do see more Windows kiosks failing, but because there are more Windows kiosks."

            So there's a lot more kiosks that use Windows than there are (for example) modems using embedded Linux?

            I'd suggest that you see more Windows kiosks simply failing because Windows kiosks fail.

      2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: You forget...

        "it took nearly 10 years for XP to become a stable OS"

        Not 10 Earth years, it didn't. Given any definition of "stable" that allows Win7 to be described thusly, XP has been stable since SP2. Vista (with "SP7") is only now reaching the same position.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Steve's a plank

    If MS want to get back on the horse, they need to dump Steve 'Del-Boy' Ballmer and get someone with more cunning and a better understanding of how to run a multi-billion dollar company, not some muppet who simply starts shouting buzz-words at the top of his voice, when the going gets tough!

  4. Geoff Campbell
    Black Helicopters

    Google take privacy very seriously indeed.

    But not in a good way.


  5. Stephen Bungay

    Cloud not the real money-maker...

    When there's a gold-rush you don't get rich by digging for gold, you get rich by selling the picks and shovels to those who think they will strike it rich by digging for gold. Apply this to cloud computing. The real money will be in the infrastructure, no access to infrastructure? No cloud. Want to access your O/S? Pay up. The O/S makers seem to be mesmerized by potential subscription fees for their wares, forgetting that if/when they do migrate their wares to a cloud model, and do so to the exclusion of all-else, those who control access to the cloud control them and the real value of their product.

    Me? I'll stay with my O/S on my computer and use the Internet infrastructure as an add-on tool instead of a necessary component.

  6. Giles Jones Gold badge

    New blood needed

    Someone from outside of the Microsoft bubble needs to come in, do lots of observation and reviews of the company and implement the changes.

    It's often easier and someone new will not be institutionalised.

  7. Mountford D

    Beginning of the end?

    "He prefers to see Microsoft’s rivals as being the likes of Amazon, Oracle and VMware."

    I had long suspected that Microsoft had been winding down their core business of Windows and business-related software and concentrating on lightweight home-market, money-spinning stuff like the X-box and suchlike. Is he actually admitting to that by that statement?

    Perhaps the man is not such a chair-throwing chimp after all - faced with the unwinnable competition from the Open Source community and the inevitable demise of a crap operating system, he is throwing in the towel instead.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is this Steve Ballmer who's dismissing Google out of hand

    different to the Steve Ballmer who dismissed the iPhone out of hand? Because that didn't work out too well...

  9. StanBumps
    Gates Halo


    They could start by getting rid of that utter loon Balmer if they are serious about addressing their current image/perception problems.

  10. JayKay

    What an idiot Steve Ballmer is...

    I just cannot believe that this man is still in charge at Microsoft. I mean, even the most ardent M$ supporter has to cringe every time this buffoon opens his mouth and talks.

    His speeches are usually chaotic, chanting things like "form factor" and "synergy", with no actual end result. Kin? Dead. Win7? It's XP with a new skin. Zune? Dead. Most new products produced by M$ now are dead before they've even hada chance to grow.

    He's a second hand car salesman at best. And even that is insulting to second hand car salesmen.

    1. Penguin herder

      RE: Beginning of the end?

      "I had long suspected that Microsoft had been winding down their core business of Windows and business-related software and concentrating on lightweight home-market, money-spinning stuff like the X-box and suchlike. Is he actually admitting to that by that statement?"

      I don't think they are letting go so much as losing their grip. The cost to generate patches for their bloatware has to be crushing, and at some point the numbers are going to start looking unattractive to investors.

      One thing I will say for Uncle Fester: he's a billionaire and not in rehab; I am serious. Look at the string of burnt out rock and tv/movie stars and the even bigger string of lottery winners who managed to ruin their lives over mere pocket change to Ballmer. Microsoft has pushed me (way) too (damn) far to continue watering the cash cow at their trough, but for folks who have enough money to do anything they want (and very little they don't), Gates formed a foundation, Simonyi takes *really* cool vacations, and Ballmer shows up to work every day. I think we'd all be a little better off if Ballmer would retire, but I can't fault them too much on how they run their own lives.


      gold rush analogy fail

      Hmm, yes, it's a gold rush, and, yes, historically, Levi et. al. made bucket loads of money. However, people also made money mining -- some of them got quite rich.

      In any event, you're missing the markup. In your scenario, selling infrastructure, what's the markup? Conversely, what's the markup for offering the cloud? Seems to me that, for example, there's not much markup in selling hardware to Google.

    3. DZ-Jay


      Sir, you win 10 intarnetz today.


  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good ideas but not enough

    Looking at the new Phone UI it looks interesting... but is it too late, or will the features that didn't make it into v1 stop it being competitive? I hope not as Apple and Android need some sort of competition (and they're not going to get it from Nokia or HP/webOS)

    Their cloud strategy is interesting, though flawed. With Google (for instance) I get elastic computing magically limited by how much I'm willing to spend. With Azure I get to make manual choices when I deploy (how many VMs, what size VM) and then I have to manually change that if conditions change (here's hoping you don't get /.ed at 3am one day!) Couple that with arbitary throughput limits on Table and SQL that mean you end up having to write a shitload of retry and backoff logic and limited SQL instance sizes (which mean you have to split data across databases and worry about the architecture for that) and it's all harder than it needs to be. Amazon have similar problems, but at least make managing and automating a lot of this easier (and at the other end of the scale support very coest effective micro-instances to play in the sandbox and get a feel for the service)

    There's a lot of effort in preserving the status quo of the political empires inside Microsoft, and not enough effort at the senior levels in making sure Microsoft is driving the next generation of thought leadership with some clear execution

  12. Dest

    Bill Gates stated recently that "He Likes The Job That Steve Is Doing".

    Bill Gates stated recently that "He Likes The Job That Steve Is Doing".

    1. That statement proves that Bill Gates doesn't care what happens to the company anymore since he has already cashed out.

    2. Steve Ballmer still has the Polaroids of the intimate encounters he must have had with Bill Gates when they were back in collage together.

    I mean, how in the hell could any rationally minded person possibly approve of the direction Steve Ballmer has taken Microsoft?

    Microsoft is nothing more than a laughingstock.

    Something to ridicule and make fun of.

    What's left of the formally mighty Micorsoft is a operating system that really isn't all that good compared to Mac OS or Linux Mint and a gaming console.

    Does anyone with any common sense take anything that Microsoft promotes seriously anymore?

    I fully expect them to start suing everyone for everything in the near future as an act of desperation to remain reliant but they will ultimately fail as all companies who use the Machiavellian principles as their business model eventually do.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As an ex-Microsoftie

    I worked for MS when billg was still at the head of the table and it was really quite an impressive place to work. Impressive enough that I soon lost the anti-MS chip on my shoulder and said thankyouverymuch I'll take your money Mr. Satan sir. Can't imagine doing that now. I imagine it's a very different dynamic going on behind those walls these days.

    It is now becoming alarmingly obvious that monkey boy has to go, and quickly. Reminds me of a scene from Grosse Point Blank...

    Debi: You know what you need?

    Marty: What?

    Debi: Shakabukku.

    Marty: You want to tell me what that means?

    Debi: It's a swift, spiritual kick to the head that alters your reality forever.

    Marty: Oh, that'd be good. I think.

  14. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

    Three words


    Sooner would be better.

  15. Mark Davies

    This article is not exactly true...

    I was at the lecture this morning - I thought it was entertaining and worth going to.... And I don't even work for MS.

    I have to say though that this report is a bit, well a bit tabloid, i.e. misrepresenting a couple of things.

    For example I kind of thought, like most people there, that Steve chosing not to answer all of the 6 or 7 questions posed by the El Reg journo, was not stonewalling but was to the benefit of students and business people who the lecture was aimed at. These event are not primarilly aimed at journos, are they? Surely other people attending the event should get to ask some as well? And I, like a number of people had trouble hearing some of the questions (and I was only a few rows behind the El Reg journo), so I can easilly believe that Steve asking for the question to be repeated was genuine.

    It's a shame this wasn't run like most of my University's alumni events, i.e. no (or very limited) press, ensuring people only get to ask one question and Chatham House rules. The event might be a bit more useful for the rest of us then.

    F*ck me! I can't believe I'm defending MS!

    1. Anonymous Coward

      typical student attitude

      it's all about you you you. Heaven forbid a journalist should turn up and ask questions, not on your precious student time! Oh but you paid through the nose to be there did you? I guess no one told you that all of your course materials are actually free online. Hard cheese.

      "The event might be a bit more useful for the rest of us then."

      Useful? Oh I'm sorry, were YOU writing an article covering the event? Or were you just going to ask him some pointless question then go jerk off and drink Special Brew? I think my last statement would actually be true regardless of whether or not you write for the campus magazine.

      I love the smell of hardcore pwnage in the morning.

    2. Adrian Midgley 1

      There is only one

      Chatham House Rule.

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Cloud Computing...

    Formerly, thin clients, and before that, mainframes running dumb terminals.

    There are advantages to cloud computing, as in "download my shiny new client now" because I sure as H*** don't trust your privacy statement to be backed up by reality (oh, you mean you archive/backup to China and India? Europeans love that too!), and your security is an oxymoron.

    All my data stays on machines I control, unless that data has zero value or is encrypted by a process I control (there is a reason why tier1 countries don't buy crypto from ... countries that don't play well in the sandbox...).

    M/S doesn't have any near term real competition for O/S leadership, unless a huge wave of stupidity enshrouds most users and they start to trust the Cloud... Or Linux gets a clue and there are fewer distros to confuse people. Or Jobs gets rejuvenated... Actually, I think I'd bet on the last one, Apple and Jobs have more lives than a cat, with a few lives left to go...

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Does anyone with any common sense take anything that Microsoft promotes seriously anymore?

    Just the entire commercial world and most of the personal computer world --- who continue to lap up their products for desktop use, and will do for the foreseeable future.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    Move On...

    Steve B. need to go. Surprised he has lasted so long given the public failures.

  19. JayKay

    I think this speak volumes of M$

    Ladies & Gentlemen, I present to you, Songsmith...


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Gates Halo


      The official advert is an epic fail, but the software itself might well be the best thing MS has released in over 20 years. Just watch this:

  20. Bilgepipe
    Gates Horns


    "Ballmer clearly thinks the cloud competition in the shape of the Mountain View Chocolate Factory at least can be laughed off."

    Ballmer thought that the iPhone, Linux, MacOS, iPad and everything else under the sun could be laughed off too (he hilariously claimed the iPhone would never even break even). And in each case he's proved to be shockingly incorrect.

    Ballmer is an incompetent and a failure. No wonder Gates got out while the going was good.

    Still no Evil Ballmer, or Idiot Ballmer, icons?

  21. Ascylto
    Big Brother

    Steve Ballmer

    Is the right man for the job.

    It's down to him that Microsoft is the company it is today.

    Only Steve Ballmer has the ability to run Microsoft.

    We should pay Steve Ballmer twice as much as we do.

    The moon is made of cheese.

  22. Gil Grissum

    Get Balmer out of there

    Balmer is a text book case of why you do not want n MBA running a technology company. I was working fine with Bill at the helm because he's a Tech at heart. A Programmer. That's the kind of leader Microsoft needs. Not an MBA who does not have the vision, wisdom, or common sense to run the company. Microsoft has sucked since Balmer took the helm. He's got a list of failures, thanks to his lack of insite:

    Windows Vista; He laughed at the iPhone, now it's the top smartphone. He's laughing at Google and Android is on it's way to surrounding and overtaking Apple. What ever happend to .NET?

    Balmer is a joke. Bill or the board or a combo of the two, need to pull Balmer out of there. Apple yanked Gilbert Amilio and brought Steve Jobs back. Look what it did for Apple. Bill needs to come back and fix what Balmer has broken.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dead Keyboard

    I read (elsewhere) that during this speech MB said that Chinese companies had to become "innovative".

    Can't think of any satirical or deep, meaningful comment concerning MS & innovation.

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