Re: Ballmer's MIcrosoft legacy...
"For the life of me I can't ever remember reading about even one single successful contribution/idea/decision that Steve Ballmer made while CEO at Microsoft."
I think you're being harsh. Gates was always the senior partner in the relationship, and when Ballmer was (nominally) made CEO, he had Gates breathing down his neck in three suffocating capacities:
1) As shadow CEO, still interfering directly, still speaking day to day to senior MS managers, so doing Ballmer's job at the same time as Ballmer, and undermining Ballmer's authority and control
2) As "software architect", which gave him unparalleled control of Microsoft's destiny, thus critically influencing what Ballmer's choices and strategy might be
3) As chairman of the board, and a major shareholder, so Ballmer's direct boss - marking Ballmer's work whilst at the same time undermining him, interfering, and reigning in his options
It is possible that Ballmer was the incompetent buffoon as his critics say. But we'll never know, because the man was never given a fair crack of the whip as CEO. CEO's should never, ever stay on after their time, and they should never, ever become chairman of the company's board. Bill Gates was responsible for Vista, and as software architect responsible for W8, and the whole Windows Phone mess. Gates' continued involvement in Microsoft after his time as CEO is probably why MS is in the pickle it is now, and ought to be taught at all business schools for decades to come.