back to article Ballmer aims chair at Apple after Windows package miss

Steve Ballmer is eyeing up an Apple-style future for Microsoft of device manufacture and support, just as he’s been personally dinged for underperforming in one of the company’s cash cows: Windows. Microsoft’s chief executive has evangelised devices as the future opportunity for Redmond in his annual letter to shareholders, …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft needs to remain the more "open" choice in terms of being able to put their software onto lots of different devices.

  2. Ralph B


    Is this article really telling us that Windows and Windows Live president Steven Sinofsky receives 6.5x the salary+bonus of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer? What? Really?

    1. Ralph B

      Re: What?

      Ah, I see, Sinofsky got most of that in stock. The Reg article could have made that clearer.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    I'd be the first to admit, my business skill are shite - I'm a code monkey at heart.

    But at a guess, I'd say I'd be just as good as Ballmer at running Microsoft into the ground. I'd quite happily ruin Microsoft for 1/2 of what he's getting.

    So if a new Captain of the Titanic is required, just let me know and I'll start packing my bags...

    1. Code Monkey

      I love Ballmer. This industry will be so much less funny when he's gone.

  4. Joefish

    It's interesting to see both these former titans

    as now a couple of headless giants still lumbering around taking a pop at each other.

    That's 'interesting' as in the famouse curse, 'May you live in interesting times'...

  5. NoneSuch

    <sarcasm>Can someone give me an address where I send a few Pounds to help them through this tough time?</sarcasm>

    Mate of mine is living in his car after being unemployed for close to a year and I am supposed to feel sympathy for MS execs?

    1. Annihilator

      Rather pointless comparison, but no, I don't think that article asked for your sympathy anywhere. Merely reported on the remuneration packages of the top brass at an IT company, generally seen as a view of how well or badly a company is doing currently.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    If MS go the Apple route

    Then it's a gift to Linux (or Linux derivative).

    1. Lunatik

      Re: If MS go the Apple route

      Unfortunately the door has been open for years for *nix-based solutions to enter the consumer/SME market, but the learning curve and sheer bloody-mindedness of most of the FS/OS effort pretty much prevents any significant take up.

      1. Bananimal

        Re: If MS go the Apple route

        But if Microsoft want to control the hardware their software is deployed on to a greater extent, it will restrict the freedom they have historically given to OEM's. A more compelling reason then presents itself for OEM's to move to *nix based solutions.

        Could prompt the first significant landgrab for *nix in the consumer/SME space. If people got used to using popular *nix based productivity tools in the office, who knows what could happen next.

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    2. Geoff Campbell

      Re: Linux et al

      First thing the FOSS movement needs to do in order to be in a position to gain any significant market share is to engage some decent technical authors. The documentation for FOSS products is universally horrible, if it exists at all, in my experience.

      Once that's done, we can start talking about usability labs.

      (FTOAD, I use FOSS extensively myself, trading my time taken working around the deficiencies against the cost of commercial software. End users and corporate IT departments will never be willing to make the same trade-off.)


      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Linux et al

        Like windows help is sorted....

        I rarely use the software help alone but do expect users to give it a go before picking up the phone, "how do i do x?" - well what did the help file say when you typed that in? don't know, (unspoken- your extension is less key presses).

        Part of me can't blame them as often I've made my weary way to the PC for some "Obviously simple issue" only to find the MS help file completely mute on the question and that is stuff we've paid for from a massive company rolling in money.

        The trouble with FOSS is few are rewarded for fixing the help and the bar is set so low.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Linux et al

          Some barriers to Linux taking off for casual/business users:

          1, industry-specific software not being released for it, CAD, Adobe, etc

          2, Poor documentation- you visit the webpage for a piece of software, and are greeted with changelogs and wikis... fine if you want to help develop it, but its not user friendly

          3, Software being giving jovial names that give no hint as to what it does: Spot the odd one out: MS Paint, PhotoShop, The Gimp. Again, not user-friendly.

          1. Kevin 6

            Re: Linux et al :Dave 126

            There is that ,and the sheer difficulty it is to install stuff.

            Tried using (Desbian) Linux 2 months ago as people are saying it got easier, and more user friendly...

            After 1-2 hours of typing in commands to install ONE program(I even had a step by step guide) I gave up, and not started the box up since... I got sick of swapping repositories rebuilding lists back and forth.

            Until they make it as easy to just DL, and install a program as windows (or even DOS) I hate to say Linux will not make it big.

            1. Anonymous Coward

              Re: Linux et al :Dave 126

              Millions of people are using Linux everyday even though they do not know it. Your router, Android, most of the internet backbone, your TV, tills, most mainframes etc. English is English and French is French, they are both languages but achieve things in different ways.

              Give Opensuse a try (my own favourite) as it supports 1-click install.

            2. Levente Szileszky

              Re: Linux et al :Dave 126

              Plain Debian is junk, a pretty bad choice if you want easy, user-friendly installation - try Ubuntu, it's more for your crowd.

              That being said I think installing programs with their dependencies via yum in linux is a FAR FASTER and EASIER deal than installing any Windows software - and I'm a primary W7 user, CentOS/RHEL is only my secondary choice (mostly server except when time-by-time I load up the latest Fedore in a VM to see where is it).

              The only PITA issue I can see for a potential converts is to find WTF you want to install (name of the package) and the related repo configs if needed - those could be improved, no question about it but this is why you should start with Ubuntu. :P

              1. tom dial Silver badge

                Re: Linux et al :Dave 126

                Debian install is the same, more or less, as CentOS (and presumably Fedora). You recommend yum, proving you are smart enough to use a command line and find the program you want. apt-get, in the same circumstances, works as well or better for Debian. So what's your beef? The only benefit I see from Ubuntu is automatic access to non-free software repositories andnice pointy-clicky progam installation that works almost as often as APT. What's your real problem?

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          2. hplasm Silver badge

            Re: Linux Jovial Names

            Skype anyone?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Linux et al

        What kind of twat signs his posts

        1. Geoff Campbell

          Re: Signing

          This twat does, thanks. I also refuse to post anonymously, because I believe in standing behind my views.

          Now do fuck off, there's a good chap.


          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Signing @GJC

            Highly amusing, here's an up vote.


        2. Toothpick

          Re: Linux et al

          "What kind of twat signs his posts"

          What kind of twat signs in as an AC to post that kind of fuckwit comment.


      3. Someone Else Silver badge

        Bloody forums

        Won't let me upvote Geoff's comment more than once!

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Linux et al

        "First thing the FOSS movement needs to do in order to be in a position to gain any significant market share is to engage some decent technical authors."

        Seriously, that's what you think? In my experience very few people will bother reading documentation ever. Ask yourself, what's the percentage, and of those how often?

        When I turn to vendor-provided technical documentation, I usually find it's rubbish, be that MS or Apple or Linux. Better to google and find what other users experiencing similar issues found useful. And that works for me.

        It probably won't work as well for the non-technically minded. I reckon they need stuff that mostly "just works", not technical documentation. Ubuntu had a pretty good shot at it, then shat at that with Unity.

        1. Geoff Campbell

          Re: Linux et al

          Well, yes, it is what I think, that's why I wrote it, do you see?

          Different people work in different ways. A significant chunk of the PC market do indeed read documentation, in my experience. In a different market, I read documentation when I'm trying to implement something I've not done before, or when I come across an unusual result that I don't understand.

          I also read forums and other web resources, and sometimes that works.

          Here's a thought - you and others are, in fact, quite correct when you say that a lot of documentation for commercial software is shite. Perhaps the FOSS movement could gain some traction by putting itself forward as an alternative that comes with proper documentation, to encourage newcomers?


    3. petecamp

      Newsflash: Desktop Linux is Dead

      Unless you're a computer geek, you won't see Linux on the desktop. Regular users don't like it because it's too unfamiliar, power users don't like it because it's too different from Windows and all their knowledge is nullified, vendors don't want to ship it on their boxes because it sits on shelves, corporations don't want to use it because it requires hiring/training staff.....

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      2. asdf Silver badge

        Re: Newsflash: Desktop Linux is Dead

        Yep and with both the GNOME team and KDE team taking the piss in the last 5 years its not really a surprise. Still Linux might not own the desktop but it sure owns your phone.

    4. Morely the IT Guy

      Re: If MS go the Apple route

      Android is a Linux derivative. I'm running an Android desktop PC at home; it cost me $65 including shipping (plus $12 to get something nice-looking as a case for it to live in), uses 14 watts of power (vs. the 750 watts burned in my Windows 7 desktop PC) and serves the majority of my computer needs. for World of Warcraft, yes, I still need Windows. I wonder how long, however.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Just a thought.

    I am pretty OS neutral at the moment, having been messing with GNU/Linux for over a decade, an avid user of OS X to now using a GNU/Linux VM (because it just works) as my work area on a Windows 7 PC because at the moment the stupid Broadcom based Dell wireless card ceased to work correctly after a certain Kernel version and I needed the machine up and running. . If I could have any combination it would be a Lenovo laptop running Mint. At this moment in time.However, Windows 7 is, by far, the best iteration of Windows to date. I have no opinion on 8 yet because I haven't used it, though I have been following the various 'discussions' over the FKAM Metrolike UI. In fact, for the most part, I no longer give a flying cowpat about the technology I use as long as it works, is well made, has a life of over 3 years at LEAST, supported, is secure, (admittedly not usually in MS and Apples favour, but at least the former now admit to problems when they occur), works well on on the chosen hardware/works well with the chosen software. This still leads me to using Mint on a tried and tested laptop, however I am digressing.

    Now, with that brief background out of the way to let you know I don't have MS tattooed on my butt.- this is why I think Microsoft is missing a massive trick.

    Hardware...Microsoft are a software company. They have been doing, mostly, software since inception and so far have their relative successes and downfalls. Lets be honest, on standalone machines they have the market cornered and have done for well over a decade. Manufacturers, for the most part, still don't give a crap to Linux support, despite the fact that there would be a decent slice, if not massive, of the market who go for it.

    Why don't Microsoft go into Linux in a BIG way? For a moment just forget their history regarding manipulating standards to suit them etc..and the distrust they would have in the GNU/Linux community. They have the clout to get a frame work in place to ensure anything that is Microsoft Linux certitfied as a hardware device is supported. With, hopefully, the same driver support also then feeding GNU/Linux as a whole. Manufacturers would love them because those machines would also work with other distros so therefore these new machines would sell to those who want a, relatively, trouble free install experience. GNU/Linux then becomes a desktop norm. Microsoft can make money by selling services and charge for its other software. They only have a market share to gain, as opposed only having a market share to lose. They effectively sidestep Apple competition as now you have the full force of an open market, as opposed to the closed market that Apple works in.

    I can see this working. Regardless of the slight horror that is looking over my shoulder whilst writing this.

    So - what are the thoughts of others on this? Am I mad? Is this crazy talk? Can you see this as an avenue that could work? is this the way that MS may stop becoming just another IBM (Yes, they are a major Service company, I see the parallels in my argument - I should be working, not typing this :) ).

    What say you?

    1. Badvok
      Thumb Down

      Re: Just a thought.

      Down-vote for the comment "(because it just works)" in relation to anything GNU/Linux.

      1. Spoonsinger

        Re: Just a thought.

        Actually OSX would be luvely - if I could change the desktop to how I want it to work, rather than being dictated to on how it should be used. Some people like being dictated to, some people don't - that's life).

        (Ok mention linux and feel my whraf, wrifff, wrath - in actuality I would love a useable BSD desktop install. But that ain't gonna happen sister - nice on servers though).

        1. Dana W

          Re: Just a thought.

          Hey, I have much more flexibility in my OS X desktop than anyone running Gnome 3.

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          2. asdf Silver badge

            Re: Just a thought.

            Really more flexibility than Mac OS eh? Do I sense sarcasm? With friggin Mac OS you can't even hide the menu bar at the top without a 3rd party app. Even Windows 95 could do that I believe.

    2. fung0

      Re: Just a thought.

      Microsoft already has a pretty good OS. What's it called again...? Oh, yeah: Windows 7. I hear it's pretty popular.

      Mind-boggling that they can squander it so effectively that your suggestion almost seems to make sense.

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  8. Anonymous Coward

    Re Article.....

    Re Steve Ballmer - "just as he’s been personally dinged for underperforming in one of the company’s cash cows: Windows."

    Ummm no.

    He didn't under perform.

    He over bullshitted, over gouged, over scammed, over repackaged the same old software in new wrapping paper, over regionalised, over product locked in, over sold shitty product, over under developed, and over hyped his own bullshit on the way through....

    While I use the Xubuntu Operating System, with the Nautilus File Manager, the most desk tops I have needed to have open at any one time is 20 of them - with 4 directories open on 4 drives in 4 tabs per window, with sometimes several windows per desk top, while sorting out a very disarrayed system/s.

    I dread going back to using Microsoft and their operating systems.

    In the foul year of our lord 2012, and "Lame Brain Ballmer" and the Microsoft product development team, only has separate single windows - with no TABBED windows for the file manager.

    They took like 5 or 6 years to bring out Pop Up Add Blocking - AFTER all the other browser makers had it.

    Microsoft's bullshit OS's trumpeted by a bullshit artist.

    1. Peter Simpson 1

      Re: Re Article.....

      You sound bitter...

      1. elderlybloke

        Re: Re Article.....

        Dear Peter,

        Alas he does sound bitter but I can understand it as he may have had unhappy eperiences using Windows

  9. Mike Flugennock

    Microsoft... PHONE?

    Y'know, there's some great jokes about a Microsoft Phone in here somewhere, but it's still too early in the morning, and I'm still on my first cup. All you guys in the UK, though, about five or six hours ahead of me, feel free to have at it.

  10. NomNomNom

    I like Windows, it's good for the captains chair model of computing where you sit in a comfy seat in front of a desk with 2 or 3 monitors surrounding half a meter away, a big keyboard and a mouse and fat headphones.

    I hope Microsoft don't ruin this model by chasing the Playing-Angry-Birds-On-The-Train tablet model of computing whichsucks for anything but trivial tasks for any device I've tried using (no keyboard!). Although no doubt it's good for checking email, watching videos of cats on youtube and playing coffee break games.

    That other model, the Sitting-in-front-of-the-TV-with-an-inferior-controller model also sucks. Again I think it's because of the lack of a keyboard, makes trivial tasks a lot harder. Not to mention the gamepad controller they all use makes many tasks impossible/hard. Press I for inventory makes a hell of a lot more sense than left-shift-button-up or whatever the fk input some of these console developers choose and then they want you to enter your name for a high score!

    It looks quite a sad future for the captains chair. Touch screen monitors are the only cool thing I see on the horizon. Everything else seems to be an effort to marginalize it out of existence for newer trendy yet inferior models (although perhaps cheaper isn't inferior).

    1. hplasm Silver badge

      If you *need* Windows for the Captain's Chair

      Then you are probably just playing at being Captain.

      1. asdf Silver badge

        Re: If you *need* Windows for the Captain's Chair

        >Then you are probably just playing at being Captain.

        Or he is the real ass captain (urban dictionary fluff).

  11. P Saunders

    no mention of Zune?

    wunner why...

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: no mention of Zune?


  12. TheOtherHobbes


    That'll be Ballmer trying to innovate then.

    Time to buy shares in popcorn.

  13. Right In The Balls

    Ballmer is a Idiot

    Ballmer is a Idiot and his ego won't let him see it.

    1. fung0

      Re: Ballmer is a Idiot

      Couldn't have said it betterer.

      Ballmer is talking about turning the world's most successful maker of high-margin, high-loyalty software products, into a maker of low-margin, commodity gadgets. Tossing away all the company's 'core competencies' just because he sees someone making bigger profits in some entirely different business.

      For a cock-up of such historic proportions, firing would be grossly insufficient. He needs to be erased from all company records, smeared with molasses and staked out on an anthill in central Africa. And then replaced by someone who actually has a f*ing CLUE about technology.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ballmer is a Idiot

        "And then replaced by someone who actually has a f*ing CLUE about technology."

        According to the current chain of succession in the Microsoft hierarchy, it'll be either Sinofsky or that ex-Walmart guy Kevin Turner who'll replace Ballmer.

        Good luck Microsoft. Because you'll need loads of luck with those nincompoops in charge.

      2. Richard Plinston Silver badge

        Re: Ballmer is a Idiot

        > into a maker of low-margin, commodity gadgets

        You have misread his intent. He wants to turn the company into a maker of _high-margin_ gadgets. He wants the 90% of computer users to have the WP7 UI forced on them so that it becomes the most familiar UI in the world. Then they will _demand_ that UI on all gadgets including desktop, tablet, phone, servers, TVs, cars, toilet seats, ...

        That demand will mean that they will pay more for MS branded products than they will for Apple ones.

        > because he sees someone making bigger profits

        Microsoft has always had a business plan that requires they have increasing revenue and increasing profit. This keeps the stock price increasing. They pay their staff partly in stock options which they can continue to print and can claim tax exemption on. This allows them to keep most of their income rather than frittering it away by giving it to the employees or the government. This cash holding also keeps the stock price up.

        They need to continue to increase revenue. Selling desktop Windows and Office software will not do that, they need to move into new areas, such as mobile and tablets. They need to grab more revenue from their partners, they need to copy Apple who is showing the way over increasing revenue. They think that they can build gadgets that will be profitable. To do that they need to kill Google, Android, Linux, Meego/Maemo and a few others.

        1. Levente Szileszky

          Re: Ballmer is a Idiot

          "Microsoft has always had a business plan that requires they have increasing revenue and increasing profit. This keeps the stock price increasing. They pay their staff partly in stock options which they can continue to print and can claim tax exemption on. This allows them to keep most of their income rather than frittering it away by giving it to the employees or the government. This cash holding also keeps the stock price up."

          Huh? It's a nice sounding theory except it's complete BS - their stock is essentially FLAT for 5-10 YEARS, just what are you talking about, seriously?

          1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

            Re: Ballmer is a Idiot

            > Huh? It's a nice sounding theory except it's complete BS - their stock is essentially FLAT for 5-10 YEARS, just what are you talking about, seriously?

            Exactly, that is why Ballmer gets a cut in his bonus and they are trying new strategies as a matter of urgency.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    mug shots

    Do any photos of Ballmer exist that don't make him look like an imbecile? If so, the reg doesn't have any.

    1. fung0

      Re: mug shots

      Even Photoshop can't work miracles.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: mug shots

        Even Photoshop can't work miracles.

        Bring out..... THE GIMP

      2. Bod

        Re: mug shots

        He needs a black Polo Neck.

  15. petecamp

    Bonus for Ballmer?

    Microsoft needs to fire him! He's done nothing good for the company.

    1. asdf Silver badge

      Re: Bonus for Ballmer?

      Hush you. Then M$ might start succeeding outside the desktop and we will get stuck with even more crappy M$ products at work.

  16. Ilsa Loving

    Makes me sick

    Ballmer has managed to tank Microsoft so badly it's become a shadow of it's former self, and yet he still somehow manages to get a BONUS that's 10x more than the average person's yearly salary.

    CEOs are the new aristocracy. They take and take, and don't even have the decency to be responsible when the decisions they make destroy the organization they are supposed to be shepherding.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Developers!!! Errrrrrr....

    Factory Workers!!! Factory Workers!!! Factory Workers!!! Cue the red face and spittle....

  18. RonWheeler

    Less stuff for idiots to f$%k up

    Give most users a PC without a walled garden and they will fill it with malware. Then take it to work and try to bully the work IT team to fix it. Give PC vendors a blank slate Windows machine and they will put ad toolbars in the browser, a one month subscription remaining copy of some nasty consumer AV product and a bunch of autostart s41t apps that make the PC run like crap. In a world where most people don't know the difference between Windows and Office, this is inevitable. People are stupid and the really stupid lazy ones are breeding faster.

    1. Bod

      Re: Less stuff for idiots to f$%k up

      Have to say when it comes to dealing with friends/family who've messed up their PCs, I welcome a restricted box for them where they can do no damage but are given enough to do what they want.

      Linux is not the option for them, still easy to get into a mess or they want to install something and it's a nightmare of scripts and command lines (or got forbid recompiling the kernel!). Yeah they have app store kind of things now but they're generally rubbish and don't contain the apps they want, and the Freetard nature of some distributions prevents them easily installing a proprietary or commercial package without a million lines of instructions, installing dependent components that don't exist on their distribution.

      Android on the desktop only really exists in tablet form and many want a proper and more beefy desktop for their purposes.

      Apple stuff... too expensive for them.

      If Microsoft offer the Apple approach at a fraction of the price, walled garden and all, then I'd be recommending them. Likewise for a phone I'd recommend a Windows Phone to someone who can't deal with a phone that let's them get into a right mess (Android). Myself I'd still buy Android to mess about with (wish Symbian still had a life though).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Re: Less stuff for idiots to f$%k up

      "Give most users a PC without a walled garden and they will fill it with malware."

      ^ this.

      For the average home computer user, Windows is far too complex a beast for someone who just wants to e-mail, arsebook and look at captioned photos of cats.

      I think Apple's walled garden approach is the way to go for many people and have started recommending iPads to friends/family who 'just want the Internet'

      Looking at some of the crud on the Android app store and the permissions that some apps request (and are granted by users who don't know / care what they are giving access to) has put me right off Android as a solution.

  19. kb

    Just great

    We'll have Apple..and Ersatz Apple, just wonderful. Luckily Win 7 is good until 2020 so lets hope that the board fires his sweaty behind before then, because I don't know about you but I DO NOT WANT everything I watch and listen and play coming from an appstore so they can nickel and dime me to death. Not to mention look at how lousy MSFT has been with regards to support, even worse than Apple. Kin, Zune, Playsforsure, WinPhone 7 ring any bells?

  20. ducksoup

    May we have the next Mastermind contender please?

    Your name: Stephen Ballmer

    Your occupation: CEO

    Your specialist subject: My business strategy and the bleedin' obvious

    So glad the value of my stock options don't rest on this man.

  21. jungle_jim

    I want to go out drinking with ballmer.

    1. Goat Jam

      Are you sure?

      He looks like he's had a bit of a head start . . .

  22. Goat Jam

    "Apple-style future for Microsoft of device manufacture and support"

    Seriously? Does he think that will work? Has he forgotten the Zune already? What about the Danger Phone?

    MS has zero cool factor. compared to apple*

    Even their XBox fanboys are just a bunch of nerdy gamers.

    Not cool. Not cool at all.

    * I am not justifying the apparent "coolness" of apple, I think it is largely undeserved but the facts of the matter are that apple is uber cool in the eye of the non-tech public and people want to be seen with their products in a manner that I cannot imagine ever associating with MS.

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