Five reasons to fire Ballmer

Ballmer's record of failure speaks for itself...

On July 1st, Bill Gates will retire. He'll still spend about 20 per cent of his time on Microsoft projects. If Microsoft is to retain 20 per cent of its economic clout in five years time, the company's board should start working on firing CEO Steve Ballmer now.

Why? Because Ballmer has been in charge of Microsoft for the last several years and he's been running it into the ground. Even before Gates announced that he was going to retire, Ballmer was already in charge and his record of failure speaks for itself.

The Vista Technology Flop

Technically, Vista was crap. You don't have to believe people like me who think Vista, a year and a service patch since its release, is still an over-priced joke pretending to be an operating system. But, maybe you will believe Microsoft's top-level executives when they say its trash.

Who was at the wheel of the good ship Microsoft during the tens of thousands of man-years and billions of dollars to create Vista? That would be CEO/captain Steve Ballmer.

The Vista Business Failure

Microsoft has managed to sell junk before but this time it had set itself an impossible job. Vista does nothing better than XP except to cost more, require greater system resources, and give users new headaches with device problems and UAC (User Account Control).

That's a hard sell. In fact, it's an impossible sell. Ballmer denies that Vista sales are poor but in the last reported quarter, Microsoft operating systems sales were down 24 per cent even though PC sales were up 15 per cent.

Ballmer denies that Vista was at fault. In a way, he's right. If Ballmer, who is an overgrown salesman, thinks sales dropping while the market is expanding means Vista is doing well, he clearly deserves a lot of the blame.

The Yahoo Fiasco

If Microsoft had pulled off the hostile takeover of Yahoo, it would have been the biggest acquisition in the company's history. It would have given the company a real presence in both the Web search market and in online advertising. Ballmer couldn't close the deal.

Maybe the acquisition would have worked. Maybe it wouldn't have. I can argue either side of this case. Ballmer didn't just screw the pooch, though he drove Yahoo into becoming buddies with Microsoft's arch-enemy Google. Smooth move dude.

If anything ever does come out of Microsoft/Yahoo it will be because Carl Ichan has taken an interest in the proposed deal, not because of anything Ballmer did.

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Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols
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