At least that is the way it seems when the Microsoft CEO opens his mouth. At a time when things are going well for Microsoft – pre-orders of Windows 7 are running briskly, the press is, for the most part, giving big congratulations to the product, and the company has just received news that not one, but two lawsuits that were potentially quite devastating, have been overturned.

What could be better?

With all that, Mr. Ballmer simply does not seem to know that his open mouth is a dangerous weapon. His remarks and demeanor in general are a distraction from the message at best, and, at worst, he is the very thing that keeps many from having a favorable impression of the company.

When sincerely trying to do right by the company, he appears overbearing, and plodding, giving the impression that ‘gloom and doom propaganda’, and incessant harping on the prospective customer is all he can do.

Mr. Ballmer, from one salesman to another – A good salesman knows when to shut the hell up. That good salesman knows that, after the great message is delivered, there is nothing like silence to force the customer to make the decision to purchase. (And make no mistake, no matter the title on his office door, or business card, his real function is ‘salesman-in-chief’.)

With all the good news for Microsoft of late, Mr. Ballmer still does not get the message that silence is sometimes truly golden.

In a piece from PCWorld, we see his continuing message –

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer put on his sales hat Tuesday and made a case for why businesses should upgrade to Windows 7, despite an economy in which many IT budgets have been frozen or are lower than in years past.

“It’s a different environment today than the environment we all sat in a year-and-a-half ago,” Ballmer told a roomful of business customers at an event in San Francisco.

Microsoft had no idea at that time that it would be launching three major products — Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2 and Exchange Server 2010 — into such an uncertain economic climate. “I can’t tell you that this was the economy we thought we were going to live in,” Ballmer said.

Overall, the CEO’s comments betrayed a few chinks in the usual armor of confidence that cloaks Microsoft executives when discussing their projections for next month’s global release of Windows 7.

Ballmer took a poll of the people in the room to find out if IT budgets at companies were up, down or frozen. While a scant few said they were up, most said they were down or frozen, a trend Ballmer said he knows will make it difficult to convince people to purchase new software.

Calling the current IT climate a time for “new efficiency,” Ballmer said companies are looking to do more with less and will likely free up IT budgets only to purchase products that allow workers to collaborate more efficiently and take costs out of business.

He tried to position the three upcoming products, but Windows 7 in particular, in this light, saying they would help customers achieve innovation and cost savings in their businesses.

Ballmer cited customer case studies the company prepared with analyst firm Gartner, intended to show how the new OS can help businesses save money in three key areas. The studies were first released a couple of weeks ago in an earlier promotional push for Windows 7.

According to the report, companies achieved annual costs savings of US$36 to $45 per PC on the service desk; $25 to $98 per PC for desktop management; and $28 to $61 per PC in deployment and provisioning.

also, there can become problems beyond the anger created by the drone of your own voice, as the piece speaks of. If you don’t shut up, people will draw parallels to your previous blatherings, and see that it might be only hype.

Microsoft promoted Windows 7’s predecessor, Vista, with similar case studies. But many businesses ultimately shied away from Vista because they considered it sub-par, and much of Microsoft’s marketing efforts around Windows 7 have been focused on repairing that damage.

“Vista was a nightmare,” said Brent Allard, a studio technical support manager for Electronic Arts, who was at Microsoft’s customer event Tuesday.

It’s never good to try to show excellence with the same methods that recently promoted mediocrity. It might be a good time for Mr. Ballmer to get a new face for the company, and be the man behind the curtains, to the new spokesperson’s Great Oz.



Monkeyboy Ballmer

the face most of us know – not the face of a CEO, salesman, or wizard.

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