Reading Between The Lines: Gates And Ballmer

You can learn a lot about a person from their style of communication. I am not talking about their ability to convey intelligent thoughts in a written format — I mean by simply listening to the words coming out of their mouth. Best of all, once transcribed, the facts really jump right out at you. When I read this post about Ballmer’s and Gates’ feelings on the idea of Microsoft breaking up into smaller companies, I noticed that Gates actually offered a valid path of thought while Ballmer was boring me with buzzwords. “Economic dis-synergies?” Seriously, Steve?

While both men presented strong arguments for Microsoft remaining intact, I actually felt like I had a better time understanding the logic behind the thoughts after reading Gates’ own thoughts on Microsoft. Well, once I excused the word synergy. Guys, ten years ago called – they want their buzz words back!

Getting back on track, it seemed evident to me that in a round-about way both men were trying to say that the company’s components were not strong enough to stand alone in the market place without diluting the brand. So while the Xbox could become its own company, it would miss out in cross promotions and cross-branding with its counterpart software. With the diluted brand of MCE and Xbox living as two separate things, keeping the two compatible and recognizable to the public might become a real challenge. I am likely a little off here, but I think the general theme rings true.

I come back full circle to one thing that was perhaps the most telling in this interview and it’s the white-knuckled control Microsoft continues to hold on its assets. Who cares if someone has a concept that would better the product — it’s going to be Microsoft’s way or forget it. Worse is Ballmer’s dream of Microsoft becoming to software what Google has become to information. Too late, man. Sorry. You have the OS, enterprise, and gaming markets working for you. But honestly, search isn’t your game.

And last, the one thing this article seems to reflect is what feels like stagnation in the company. I know for a fact there are young, bright minds in Microsoft screaming to be heard. Yet instead, we hear the old guard drone on about synergy. Come on, guys! If you’d like the company to remain relevant and not just become a legacy commitment for future generations, it’s time to really study what people want and who isn’t already doing it. Bing = fails hard for search. It works, but it’s no better than Google. Windows Phone 7 could be fantastic, but it just needs to iron out some kinks along the way.

I agree that Microsoft may not need to be broken up. But for the love of Pete, someone needs to drain the swamp over there in the exec offices. Fresh ideas and fresh blood. Windows Phone 7 Live Tiles is one example…what’s next?

Ballmer Confesses To Vista’s Sins

Anyone who says Vista was not a total mess was simply not paying attention. While it is accurate to point out that Vista shaped up well enough toward its most recent SP release, Vista’s initial release was TERRIBLE.

And now we see Ballmer sort of admitting this, on the coattail of the successful Windows 7 release. Honestly, I cannot say that I blame him for waiting. After all, why admit that a product release stinks until you have the better option ready go?

The one take away from the ComputerWorld article that I think really hits the nail on the head was the point about what Vista was designed to do. Vista was too much hype and not enough follow through. Poorly executed, it tried to do entirely too much. In a single release.

[awsbullet:tom robbins]

Ex-Microsoft Employee – Microsoft Today ‘A Lot Like IBM Was In 1985’

After Mike Dodge was laid off from Microsoft last month after 5 years working for the software giant, he was immediately scooped up by Google. In a recent interview he shared some of his thoughts concerning Microsoft and Google and the differences between the two companies. The one comment he made does seem to sum up where Microsoft may be heading, since his opinion of Microsoft is that they look a lot like IBM was in 1985.

But this one sentence seems to express how many feel about Microsoft today:

Microsoft is still a powerful company – $60 billion in revenue and very profitable – but I think after 20 years they are losing the innovation edge. The most innovative companies today are Google, Apple and Facebook. Very few companies can dominate an industry for more than 20 years. It is just the natural competitive cycle. Another factor – Bill Gates leaving the company. The transition was smooth, but not having Bill there every day has far-reaching implications.

I personally believe that Bill Gates leaving did have a far-reaching implications, not only inside Microsoft, but also outside of the firm. Mr. Ballmer does not seem to convey confidence in the company. There was also this statement:

Microsoft is a vast company with products in just about every market. It is tough to compete and be the leader in every market. Even in desktop operating systems, where Microsoft has dominated for years, Vista has been a disappointment. So, you can never rest, never stop innovating. Windows 7 looks like a pretty solid product.

Vista will leave a mark on the company for many years to come. Rushing the operating system to market hurt the credibility of Microsoft and even though Windows 7 is an improvement, some still sting from the problems Vista caused and how it took almost a year to fix issues with the OS.

So what do you think?

Comments welcome.


Bill Gates – Google OS Looks A Lot Like Linux

Bill Gates has stepped up to the plate and took a swing at the newly announced Google Chrome operating system saying it looks like Linux. Mr. Gates did say the Google hasn’t really said much about the new OS so it is hard to really comment on it. In fact the less Google says the more interesting it becomes. The former head of Microsoft also stated in an article the following information:

As for the notion that the browser needs to act more like an OS, he noted that the browser has already become an extremely broad concept, with all of the plug-ins and other things that are now done inside a browser.

“It just shows the word browser has become a truly meaningless word,” Gates said. “What’s a browser? What’s not a browser? If you’re playing a movie, is that a browser or not a browser? If you’re doing annotations, is that a browser? If you’re editing text, is that a browser or not a browser? In large part, it’s more an abuse of terminology than a real change.”

Steve Ballmer, the current head of the Redmond software giant,  has his own thoughts:

“We don’t need a new operating system,” Ballmer said Tuesday, as part of his keynote at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference in New Orleans. “What we do need to do is to continue to evolve Windows, Windows Applications, IE (Internet Explorer), the way IE works in totality with Windows and how we build applications like Office…and we need to make sure we can bring our customers and partners with us.”

No one expects Microsoft to be happy about the Google announcement, though it wasn’t exactly a surprise. Rumors have been flying for several years that Google was in fact developing such a system. But as I have stated before, I believe that Windows and Chrome are going to be apples and oranges.

If the Google Chrome OS doesn’t live up to expectations, it also will go the way of other Linux distributions that have little appeal to the masses. Chrome needs to boot fast and get the user on the Internet quickly. Chrome should also include a variety of different browsers to allow the user some choice in what they use. It will also need to support a large number of printers and other hardware. It should be interesting to see how Google overcomes these problems.

Opinions please.


From The Man To Take Microsoft Into Competition With Google

There should be an image here!Sometimes it’s fun to look back over the years to see what was happening way back when. Like going back to a much earlier meeting had between Redmond giant Microsoft and then new search engine powerhouse, Yahoo.

At the time, Yahoo was growing like mad and Microsoft was interested in exploring the possibility of working with the growing search engine company. But what strikes so many people as completely insane was Ballmer’s prediction that search was merely a fad.

Yes, apparently he felt that eventually, there would only be a few websites left on the Internet thus rendering the need for a search engine in the future, a moot point. Comical, especially considering how much involvement Microsoft has in search these days. Nothing against Ballmer, this is a mistake that anyone could have made way back when. After all, the Internet was still a place trying to find its land legs.

Companies That Stick With XP Will Face A Backlash?

Steve Ballmer is stating that companies that do not get away from Windows XP and upgrade to Vista or Windows 7, will face a backlash from irate users. Mr. Ballmer thinks that the company masses will revolt when they discover that their company is using slower machines at work than they have at home. This mass of disgruntled workers will rise up and demand a change.

According to an article that covers Mr. Ballmer’s thoughts, it states that:

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is warning IT organisations that they risk provoking an end user backlash if they don’t move off the XP operating system.

“If you deploy a four or five-year old operating system today, most people will ask their boss why the heck they don’t have the stuff they have at home,” the Microsoft CEO said.

In an interview at an event to mark the extension of Microsoft’s collaboration with EMC to help IT professionals improve virtualisation, security and content management, Ballmer touched on the progress of Windows 7.

He stressed that its faster performance, longer battery life and simplified security settings will be “a pretty good step forward in terms of what users care about.”

For these reasons and others, Ballmer warned that, enterprises that stick with Windows XP too long risk complaints from impatient users who have been using newer computers running Vista and Windows 7 at home.

Interesting. I think people today will just be happy to have a job and not be worrying about what OS their company is using. This ploy may of had a better chance when business was good. But I seriously doubt it will work in a time of economic uncertainty. This also makes one wonder why is XP still be offered on netbooks if it is so slow, irritating and subject to user backlash.

What do you think?  Would you rather have a job with a company that uses Windows XP or be unemployed using your home system with Vista or Windows 7 ?


You Can Pass On Vista And Go Directly To Windows 7

The new lord of Microsoft has stood on his balcony, waved to the masses and addressed the crowd saying that we could pass on Vista and go directly to Windows 7. Steve Ballmer, while still defending Vista as being better than sliced bread, is now saying it is OK to skip Vista. His remarks while directed at businesses, also applies to home users as well. So what does this mean to you and me?

Nothing really. It still goes back to the same thing I have said over and over. Use the operating system you like. Not one that is being shoved down your throat. In an article from C/Net it also states:

Ballmer did note that Vista has had compatibility problems with some applications and hardware, but that those problems have diminished. “We had a great success with security and starting to see a ramp with adoption.”

Gartner analyst Neil MacDonald countered with Gartner survey data showing that 61 percent of respondents are thinking about skipping Vista altogether. Ballmer said that Microsoft would be ready for that outcome and reiterated Microsoft’s pledge that Windows 7 will be compatible with Vista.

Ballmer also stated that Windows 7 will not just an upgrade of Vista, but a complete new operating system, which will be compatible with Vista. Interesting, Does that mean it will not be compatible with previous versions of Windows? :-)

It should be interesting to see just how much Windows 7 will change.

What do you think? Will Windows 7 be a big deal for you?

Comments welcome.


‘Windows Cloud’ OS Is Coming

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has stated that they are currently developing a new ‘Windows Cloud’ OS, which will be separate from Windows 7. Mr. Ballmer states that the new OS will make it easier for developers to write applications that will be used in future cloud computing, similar to what Google and others are offering. What is surprising is that the bread and butter for Microsoft has been their flagship operating system, Windows. By entering into the cloud market, one can ask exactly how far Redmond is willing to give up their cash cow OS and develop an alternative that may not be so lucrative.

In a recent article is states that:

Cloud computing is a term often applied to programs that are presented in a Web browser, but the actual computing is performed at a distant datacenter.

Ballmer was short on details, saying more information would spoil the announcement. Windows Cloud is a separate project from Windows 7, the OS Microsoft is developing to succeed Windows Vista.

Companies such as Google and have embraced the concept of delivering software over the Internet, as it can mean lower costs and less maintenance for those who use the applications.

Ballmer was quick to point out that Microsoft doesn’t envision products such as the Office productivity suite to move entirely off desktop PCs and onto the Internet.

But Microsoft is working on a service that would let people do “light editing” of Office documents at places such as a public Internet kiosk, Ballmer said.

The ‘light editing’ statement may give us a clue that Microsoft is not willing to give up on its other cash cow, Office,  just yet. So it will be a wait and see what Microsoft plans on offering developers.

Comments welcome.


Microsoft – Trouble In Paradise?

It makes one wonder. Should Bill Gates come back to steer the good ship Microsoft? Maybe Microsoft needs a Jerry Yang of Yahoo fame to help out. No matter what your opinion of Microsoft might be, the once mighty corporation is feeling the sting of the Microsoft – Yahoo deal gone sour. In fact we may see more employees leaving the Redmond software company as the head of Windows tries to regain its direction. A direction which includes a bigger presence on the Internet.

But can Microsoft achieve their goal, without buying a piece of Yahoo? I think Microsoft has two problems. First, without Yahoo their search hopes may be damaged and second, they need to make Windows 7 the best Windows yet. In an article from Boomtown it states:

But, most of all, it has zeroed in on Yahoo, which has a share in the mid-20s, in order to give it a better chance to compete with Google, the dominant market leader.

After first trying to buy Yahoo in a bit of a ham-handed manner, it turned to a plan to buy its search business.

That proposal has been rejected by Yahoo twice as not good enough for a variety of reasons, some better than others.

The hubbub sent Yahoo into the arms of Google, with which it struck an outsourcing ad search deal, which has attracted a lot of controversy, but will likely go forward.

Welcome to Microsoft’s nightmare!

So what do you think? Should Microsoft do what it does best and concentrate on Windows 7 development? Or do they need to diversify and catch up with Google?

Comments welcome.


Ballmer’s Memo

Ballmer – No Printed Newspaper Or Magazines In 10 Years

Steve Ballmer, the new spokes person for the mighty software empire from Redmond aka Microsoft, is now making predictions about the future of newspapers and magazines. In his wisdom he believes that within 10 years we will no longer be able to view newspapers or magazines in print form. But in an article over at the San Jose Mercury news, this one statement[s] expressed my feelings when I read what Stevie had to say:

Technology has yet to deliver a replacement for the convenience of having a paper product to take along on the subway, to the bathroom (insert joke here), to the doctor’s office and to read at the checkout stand.

We are all aware that one can read the latest news on your iPhone or other gadget, but the one word that sticks out is convenience.  Putting the issues of being ‘green’ and saving a tree aside, tossing out printed material may be harder than one might think.

But what do you think? Is Ballmer onto something? Or should he stick to computers and his quest of Yahoo?

Share your thoughts.

Comments welcome.


Windows 7 – Why Microsoft Is Not Saying Anything

Over at ZD-Net they are having a meeting of the minds trying to figure out why Microsoft is being silent about the next version of Windows dubbed 7, as in Windows 7. There is also some discussion that testers and those in the groove are being left out as well. But one could conclude that the silence by Microsoft could mean a variety of different things.

When Vista was under development, Microsoft had provided us with a road map of new features that was going to make us dump XP in a heart beat. One of the features was called  WinFS which was going to sit on top of the NTFS file system and would make grouping attributes such as project, author etc., easier. But WinFS did not make the final product. There were some other features that also did not make it to Vista because they did not work properly. Add to this the famous Jim Allchin memo to Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer which stated:

From: Jim Allchin
Sent: Wednesday, January 07, 2004 8:38 AM
To: Bill Gates; Steve Ballmer
Subject: losing our way…

This is a rant. I’m sorry.

I am not sure how the company lost sight of what matters to our customers (both business and home) the most, but in my view we lost our way. I think our teams lost sight of what bug-free means, what resilience means, what full scenarios mean, what security means, what performance means, how important current applications are, and really understanding what the most important problems [our] customers face are. I see lots of random features and some great vision, but that doesn’t translate onto great products.

I would buy a Mac today if I was not working at Microsoft. If you run the equivalent of VPC on a MAC you get access to basically all Windows application software (although not the hardware). Apple did not lose their way. You must watch this new video below. I know this doesn’t show anything for businesses, but my point is about the philosophy that Apple uses. They think scenario. They think simple. They think fast. I know there is nothing hugely deep in this. [Note: link no longer works]

I must tell you everything in my soul tells me that we should do what I called plan (b) yesterday We need a simple fast storage system. LH is a pig and I don’t see any solution to this problem. If we are to rise to the challenge of Linux and Apple, we need to start taking the lessons of “scenario, simple, fast” to heart.


Now. Does anyone need to wonder why Microsoft is remaining mum on Windows 7. If they provide  information as they did with Longhorn, they may have other embarrassing moments. But the big reason is that the company is trying to palm off, I mean sell Vista. Telling the masses that Windows 7 will be better than Vista will just make more of us wait for the next Windows to hit the street.

Comments welcome.

PS For those here in the US have a safe Memorial Day holiday. For those of us here in the mid-west may God protect you and your family from the vicious weather that is plaguing the area.



Should Gates Stay At Microsoft And Put Off Retirement?

We will fight them on the beaches, in the trenches, in the air and under the sea. No matter where they try to hide, we will destroy them! A famous speech from a WWII leader. Nope just the mind set of Microsoft while they attempt to swallow up Yahoo. You may have noticed that Bill Gates is still hanging out and was the spokesperson for the new cashback scheme being offered over at Live Search.

Let’s face it. Steve Ballmer is a clown at times who’s antics are well known. But is he the kind of leader that Microsoft needs when they are facing such a crucial battle?  Microsoft is well aware that they need to try and catch Google before the world famous search company has control of the universe. But who is going to lead this charge?

Look what happened at Dell. Michael Dell gave the reins to his company over to a CEO who ran the good ship Dell right into the ground. Whether Dell will be able to recover from this down ward spiral is left to be seen. But one can look back at Carly Fiorina’s decision to merge HP-Compaq, once considered ludicrous by some, as a deal that has paid handsome rewards for the HP empire. If someone would of said five years ago that Dell would fall to the #3 spot, they would of been called daffy. Yet it did happen and the #4 spot is available if one asks Acer. :-)

So getting back to this Microsoft, Yahoo and Google debacle. The folks at Redmond are well aware that in order to remain in their position as the tip of the sword, they need to make a huge splash on the Internet and Yahoo is a must have. This is where I believe that Microsoft will need to depend on Bill Gates to save the company. Bill knows where all of the skeletons are, which buttons to push, and how to succeed where few have.

So what do you think? Should Gates stick around?

Comments welcome.

Dell To Offer XP Until 2011 – Rumor?

After reading further about what Steve Ballmer said to the MVP’s in Redmond on April 17, 2008, this rumor could be more fact than fiction. Mr. Ballmer stated:

In the meantime, we have some customers, a lot of customers using Vista, a lot of customers, and we have a lot of customers that are choosing to stay with Windows XP, and as long as those are both important options, we will be sensitive, and we will listen, and we will hear that. I got a piece of mail from a customer the other day that talked about not being able to get XP anymore, and we responded, XP is still available. And I know we’re going to continue to get feedback from people on how long XP should be available. We’ve got some opinions on that. We’ve expressed our views, but certainly with this crowd, [email protected] I’m always interested in hearing from you on these and other issues.

It makes sense that Microsoft may just allow XP to live on. The rumor that Dell may continue to offer Windows XP until 2011 springs from a blog posting over at Sunbelt Blog which states:

        We just got this in from a credible source:

I have just been advised by my Dell representative that Dell will be offering XP on Optiplex and Latitude computers through 2011 at no extra cost. Vista media will be available for those who think they might want to install it later on. Vostro computer orders will have the same option at a $50.00 premium.

Note: this means that there will be an extended period of review available for Windows 7 before we have to commit to it.

She told me that the reps are thrilled to be able to respond to the increasing expressions of concern from customers regarding the June 30 cut-off XP date publicized by Microsoft. She also told me that, of the more than 100 customers she has, only one is ordering Vista computers…

Anyone have any confirmation on this rumor? If it’s true, it’s really good news…

Alex Eckelberry

Well Alex, I can’t confirm whether this rumor is true. But like your self, if it is true, I feel it is really good news as well.

Full Sunbelt blog entry is here.

Full press release is here.

[tags]dell, windows, xp, june, 2008, extend, 2011, representative, rumor, ballmer, mirosoft,  [/tags]

Even MVPs Choose Google As Their Favorite Seach Engine

Steve Ballmer was addressing a group of MVPs attending a summit meeting in Redmond when he asked the following questions:

“How many of you use Live Search as your default?” Ballmer asked.

A smattering of hands went up. Tepid applause.

“How many of you use Yahoo search as your default?”

Far fewer hands went up and the room was relative quiet, until it filled with laughter.

Ballmer, trying again, louder this time, “How many of you use Yahoo search as your default?”

The same response.

“How many of you use Google as your default?” Ballmer asked.

The vast majority in the audience raised their hands, cheering and hooting.

Ballmer also took a hard look at Vista when he stated the following:

“Windows Vista,” he said, pausing for a moment, “A work in progress.”

The crowd laughed and applauded.

“A very important piece of work and I think we did a lot of things right and I think we have a lot of things we need to learn from,” Ballmer continued. “Certainly, you never want to let five years go between releases and we just sort of kiss that stone and move on. Because, it turns out, many things become problematic when you have those long release cycles. The design point, what you should be targeting. We can’t ever let that happen again. We have some things that we can’t just set the dial back, but I think people wish we could.”

I believe that Microsoft does realize that Vista is problematic and that hopefully they can do a better job with Windows 7. Vista still leaves a bad taste that Microsoft is struggling to overcome. Some industry observers doubt that SP1 for Vista will be enough to make businesses switch. Only time will tell.

I wonder why Ballmer didn’t ask how many MVPs use Firefox? :-)

Comments welcome.

Full story is here.

Ballmer To Yahoo!: You Got 3 Weeks

Seems that the friendly atmosphere that Microsoft was trying to present to Yahoo! for an acquisition proposition amounting to a $44.6 billion offer is now turning aggressive. It seems that the gloves are coming off and Microsoft has stated in a press release that the board of directors for Yahoo! may be wish to reconsider. Also stated in the PR is the following:

During these two months of inactivity, the Internet has continued to march on, while the public equity markets and overall economic conditions have weakened considerably, both in general and for other Internet-focused companies in particular. At the same time, public indicators suggest that Yahoo!’s search and page view shares have declined. Finally, you have adopted new plans at the company that have made any change of control more costly.

By any fair measure, the large premium we offered in January is even more significant today. We believe that the majority of your shareholders share this assessment, even after reviewing your public disclosures relating to your future prospects.

Given these developments, we believe now is the time for our respective companies to authorize teams to sit down and negotiate a definitive agreement on a combination of our companies that will deliver superior value to our respective shareholders, creating a more efficient and competitive company that will provide greater value and service to our customers. If we have not concluded an agreement within the next three weeks, we will be compelled to take our case directly to your shareholders, including the initiation of a proxy contest to elect an alternative slate of directors for the Yahoo! board. The substantial premium reflected in our initial proposal anticipated a friendly transaction with you. If we are forced to take an offer directly to your shareholders, that action will have an undesirable impact on the value of your company from our perspective which will be reflected in the terms of our proposal.

So it would appear that in the next 3 weeks or so we will be able to see if Yahoo folds under the pressure or continues to ignore the mighty Redmond giant.

Comments welcome.

Microsoft press release is here.