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Microsoft Businesses The Almighty Buck

Is Bill Gates the Cure For What Ails Microsoft? 337

Posted by Soulskill
from the more-cowbell-not-available dept.
theodp writes "After reading the recent call for Steve Ballmer to step down, gdgt's Ryan Block concludes that it's time for Bill Gates to come back to Microsoft. 'I've long seen it as a foregone conclusion that Ballmer isn't the guy to be running what was until quite recently the world's preeminent technology company,' writes Block. 'The more pressing question is: who should replace him? I think we all know damn well who — but I'm not so sure he's available. Yet.' Block adds: 'I'm not saying Bill's going to leave his new gig as the world's greatest living philanthropist with aplomb, but the multi-billion dollar wheels at The Gates Foundation have been set in motion — and lest we all forget, the Foundation's endowment is tied directly to Microsoft's long-term success. It may just happen that Bill can help the Foundation more by securing Microsoft's future.'"
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Is Bill Gates the Cure For What Ails Microsoft?

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  • by symes (835608) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @08:21AM (#36295394) Journal

    With Buffett and a few others pitching in to help the Gates Foundation I hardly think the Foundation is reliant on MS. Also, I would hardly think Gates would be interesting in "saving" what is still a very profitable organisation - he's much more into pushing boundaries.

  • They are trying to make a new Steve Jobs? The one that comes back to save the day? WTF?
  • by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @08:25AM (#36295410)
    Bill Gates is not the answer for Microsoft, but changing leadership is. They have become sloth-like in their old age and have become a market follower rather than a market leader.

    MS probably needs to remove one or two levels of management to allow things to speed up again. Ideas and progress are slowed by too many filters.
    • by WuphonsReach (684551) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @09:01AM (#36295702)
      MS probably needs to remove one or two levels of management to allow things to speed up again. Ideas and progress are slowed by too many filters.

      Too many management layers and probably too many of the wrong people have been promoted over the years. It's not going to be as easy as saying "replace Balmer". Whoever takes over is going to have to do some serious housecleaning to get rid of those people who are making the decisions to ship bad products.

      They should have done what the anti-trust fans wanted done years ago. Split the company up into at least 3 major segments and spin things off. Shove the MS-Office bunch into their own company, shove the server folks into their own company, shove the hardware products into yet another company, etc.

      Which cuts down on the layers of bureaucracy and forces those product lines to compete on merit instead of relying on other corporate cash cows (or being used as a cash cow).
  • by CFBMoo1 (157453) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @08:25AM (#36295414) Homepage
    Honestly if companies like Microsoft and Apple can't do without their great leaders then they need to sink forever in to the abyss. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs aren't going to live forever no matter how much money they have to get human parts to replace things like Jobs did. You can't even stick their heads in jars like Futurama did. Although I would be highly be amused if they ever did manage that one for real.
    • YOUR ANALYSIS IS INTERESTING STOP I THINK YOU RAISE A GOOD POINT STOP MOD PARENT UP STOP

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      (Lameness filter is lame. Lameness filter is lame. Lameness filter is lame. Lameness filter is lame. Lameness filter is lame. Lameness filter is lame. Lameness filter is lame. Lameness filter is lame. Lameness filter is lame. Lameness filter is lame. Lameness filter is lame.)

  • developers, developers, developers, developers, developers.
  • by LavouraArcaica (2012798) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @08:27AM (#36295424)
    For me, Bill Gates is the symbol of the junk-microsoft: DOS, windows 3.1; 95; 98; Me. As far as I see the history of Microsoft, since Gates left the CEO chair, things are slightly better. And, finally, the problem isn't Ballmer, but the fact that a company can't be the only big player in the entire sector forever.
    • by miffo.swe (547642)

      Exactly my thought, those who long for Gates must have very short memories.

      • Hedge fund managers don't care is MS succeeds or fails. All they want is a change in management to drive the stock price up, so they can then sell their stock and make a profit.
    • by diegocg (1680514)

      For me, Bill Gates is the symbol of the dynamic (and yes, also monopolist) Microsoft that got his OS on every personal computing device on earth. He was part of the Microsoft that was able kill any competitor cloning his software and improving it until it was the best choice, even if the tech was not the best. The most close thing these days is Google's Chrome (yes, IMO the tech under it -Javascript/DOM- is crap)

    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      Hey WIndows 95 and 98 didn't suck. Sure Windows 2000 and XP where big improvements but at the time 95 and 98 where big leaps forward. Windows 95 was when the PC actually caught up with the Amiga from 1985 in many ways.

    • Gates could not control every aspect of the company. Remember his usability rants? [edibleapple.com]

      He knows what is needed, but there are too many project managers and fiefdoms and it's not a single company working towards a single goal. No Fortune 100 company could possibly be run by a single person. He gives up some control to people, they are expected to focus on that aspect.

      In my mind, I would rather have the CEO finding problems with a product and complaining about it.

      But that's not the point. The point is, so many

  • MS may want to acquire their way into a profitable market, such as eBay or Amazon, (eBay is cheaper and they'd get PayPal with it), and then if they do get Skype, they could come up with tech to do 'peer-to-peer' sales, something that eBay/Amazon don't offer because they don't have that kind of tech and something Skype doesn't offer, because it's not their business, but if they did something like that, they could then have an online bank, an online retailer, an communications company all in one package, and

    • by miffo.swe (547642)

      The problem is that whatever Microsoft buys gets tainted by their bad rep amongst users and soon abandoned. Just look at how many jumped ship from Yahoo as soon as Bing took over their search results.

  • Its overly simplistic to put the blame on Ballmer since it was Bill Gates that got Microsoft under close scrutiny from monopoly enforcement agencies all over the world. Bill Gates was also the one that won Microsoft the biggest EU fine in history for Bills predatory practices.

    What Ballmer has done is followed in Bill Gates footstep with so-so products sold by extremely hard marketing and very shoddy business practices. If anything Ballmer is just a bleaker version of Bill. The return of Bill Gates would just be about more pressure on OEMs, more underhanded deals and more of using the monopoly again.

    Personally i would love it if Bill Gates took the helm as it would make Microsoft become irrelevant even faster than today. The mobile and computing industry at large is right now liquid mercury and the tighter Microsoft squeezes the sooner it will slip.

    • by Bill_the_Engineer (772575) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @09:43AM (#36296128)

      Its overly simplistic to put the blame on Ballmer since it was Bill Gates that got Microsoft under close scrutiny from monopoly enforcement agencies all over the world. Bill Gates was also the one that won Microsoft the biggest EU fine in history for Bills predatory practices.

      Translation: Ballmer isn't as good as Gates. Under Bill Gate's leadership, Microsoft garnered so much market share that it scared nations.

      What Ballmer has done is followed in Bill Gates footstep with so-so products sold by extremely hard marketing and very shoddy business practices. If anything Ballmer is just a bleaker version of Bill. The return of Bill Gates would just be about more pressure on OEMs, more underhanded deals and more of using the monopoly again.

      Wrong. Ballmer is relying on momentum to keep Microsoft afloat. This is what the share holders are upset about. They see a future where most of the money are in mobile computing appliances and it appears to the man on the street that Microsoft's extensive portfolio is stuck on the desktop. This isn't necessarily true but their server products and mobile OSs haven't been stellar performers.

      Personally i would love it if Bill Gates took the helm as it would make Microsoft become irrelevant even faster than today.

      Personally I think its a shame someone can't enjoy their retirement without a bunch of whiny shareholders begging him to come back to work. Shareholder's are holding on the illusion that if Bill Gates returns then somehow he would be able to bring Microsoft back into a strategic marketing position that would preserve their market share.

      The mobile and computing industry at large is right now liquid mercury and the tighter Microsoft squeezes the sooner it will slip.

      Sounds like a pipe dream. Microsoft is building strategic alliances with cell phone manufacturers (eg. Nokia) and renewing their commitment to the smart phone market that they neglected since they dropped the ball on Windows CE back when Gates was preaching "Windows Everywhere". I wouldn't count Microsoft out just yet.

    • by delinear (991444)
      Indeed, it seems to me Gates has spent the last few years trying to distance himself from his role at MS as much as possible. I'm sure he much prefers the title of international philanthropist to international monopolist. We know he doesn't need the money, I can't think of anything else MS could offer him to return at this point.
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Its overly simplistic to put the blame on Ballmer since it was Bill Gates that got Microsoft under close scrutiny from monopoly enforcement agencies all over the world. Bill Gates was also the one that won Microsoft the biggest EU fine in history for Bills predatory practices.

      It's overly simplistic to regard Gates' actions as a failure. Ashcroft under Bush gave Gates and Microsoft a free pass on actions in the USA, and the EU fines were not enough to make Microsoft unprofitable, and thus they were a worthless, token effort that surely made a few individuals richer than they already were and otherwise had no real effect. If Ballmer were to follow in Gates' footsteps then Microsoft would flourish.

  • He says Bill Gates needs to come back, and then states Gates listened to J Allard about the Xbox, Microsoft's only real consumer success story in the last decade. Doesn't that mean that maybe J Allard should be the new CEO of Microsoft? Or can Block not connect the dots he himself puts down on the paper?
  • I don't think you're getting what you think you are asking for.

    These are large crude parallels being drawn here: "Steve Jobs returned to Apple and saved it" is an interesting story, but Apple's story is certainly exceedingly unique.

    Not many companies crawl back from hasbeens to dominance. Apple was a joke in the 1990s, a shell of its former '80s self. The natural arc is to go from dominance to hasbeen. This is Microsoft's fate. Google's. Facebook's. etc. Apple is the weird exception, not the rule, and I wouldn't let its experience try to teach us anything. It's like seeing someone hit the lottery and trying to figure out how they did and repeat that. No, Apple is a pretty unique story in technology and business. Microsoft can't find their Steve Jobs in Bill Gates.

    • In a sense, Steve Jobs renovated the shell of 20th century Apple to create 21st century Apple. The current version only really owes elements of the MacOS UI to the original macintosh. So Apple didn't really survive the revival.

      • to further the parallel, you would be asking bill gates to come back and somehow microsoft becomes a force that kills the cable giants and netflix as everyone moves to their boxes for television and movie content. and this is what microsoft becomes known for in the late 2010s

        someone's going to converge the internet and the traditional cable company's market space, it could be microsoft. and then to complete the parallel to apple's story, windows 8 or 9 or 10 etc becomes a has been as Google OS takes over th

      • by careysub (976506)

        In a sense, Steve Jobs renovated the shell of 20th century Apple to create 21st century Apple. The current version only really owes elements of the MacOS UI to the original macintosh. So Apple didn't really survive the revival.

        So was the 70s Apple dead in the 80s, since the Mac owed nothing to speak of to the Apple I/II? There may be a case for your claim, but the lack of a direct descendant of the original MacOS in the current product lineup isn't it. (I acknowledge that a case can be made that the original Apple start-up did not survive into the 80s, but what start-up organization does survive its growth into a multinational?)

    • by sheehaje (240093) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @09:38AM (#36296086)

      If the natural arc is to go from dominance to hasbeen, how do you explain IBM? Have they found some type of middle ground of the IT landscape that makes them immune to bubbles and fluctuations in the market? They seem to be doing well for themselves, and have been for a long time.

      • IBM is not the picture of gold in middle age. IBM is the picture of gold in the elderly years. IBM's business acumen makes steve job's heroics look tiny

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        IBM secured major defense contracts early on, and also understands the idea of selling the customer what they will buy. IBM has had its massive flops, for example the PS/Valuepoint line, and OS/2. One led to selling out to OS/2 and the other led to Microsoft dominance of PC operating systems.

      • As I said farther up I think the difference, in both Apple and IBM's, cases is that they had to go to the brink before they rebuilt themselves. Apple was particularly a hairsbreadth from death when Jobs returned, and IBM wasn't much better off when they started to turn around in the 90s. Microsoft remains, for now, highly profitable. They aren't growing, they aren't dominating new markets, but they're making lots of money. Until that stops, until they start to fail, they aren't likely to turn it around.

    • by Larryish (1215510)

      Microsoft can't find their Steve Jobs in Bill Gates.

      Gentlemen, I invoke rule 34.

    • A wise old businessman once told me how companies are like people. They are born with lots of energy and enthusiasm, go through growing pains and assuming they live long enough hit the prime of their life. Then, like people companies eventually grow old and get hardening of the arteries before finally dying.
  • This was the man that should have taken the reigns of Microsoft by now. Instead he has left the company. He was a worthy successor to Gates in drive and vision.

  • Gates would be a better option than Ballmer but that's faint praise. My dog would do a better job than Ballmer. There are certainly better options out there. People with the ability to gut the entrenched internal bureaucracy and drag Microsoft into the modern world of technology.

    The age of $150 operating systems running on an $800 desktop with $400 productivity software are drawing to a close. If Microsoft wants to stay relevant, they need new ideas that come from people who aren't being stifled by mi

    • by Ice Tiger (10883)

      Totally agree, my move away from MS desktop PC products has been driven by price as they don't have magnitudes of added value compared to their competitors in order to justify the additional expense.

      As someone who is seen as the local 'IT Guy' by friends and family this has also resulted in their machines moving away from MS products too. Microsoft need to maybe look at Steam and learn about how to price things.

  • So why do they think Bill Gates would be better? The key problem is simply that Microsoft depends on two, long in the tooth products (Windows and Office) for most of its revenue. That's not going to change one bit, if Gates returned to Microsoft.

    And if I were in Gates's shoes, I'd rather that Balmer had the thankless task of trying to find a new Windows/Office complex while I slowly sold off my Microsoft stock. That seems to be what happened.
  • ...I would rather have the illness ;-)

  • He'd dedicated the company to developing scalable, human-like artificial intelligence. He'd dominate the computer industry AND get those who need aid by getting answers to all questions for which there are answers.

  • actually (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ludomancer (921940) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @08:45AM (#36295560)

    I'd rather they just go out of business. It is long overdue.

  • Mark Russinovich! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by fluor2 (242824) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @08:50AM (#36295598)

    I vote for Mark [wikimedia.org]! He is an excellent and awesome technical fellow that has impressed me a number of times. It's time for Microsoft to learn from Google; let the engineers take control again.

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @08:51AM (#36295620) Homepage

    Thank you for making our jobs easier by continuing to pursue bad products with bad management. When we saw your pitiful attempt at a search engine, we laughed until our sides split.

    Sincerely,
    Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison, Larry Page, and Sergei Brin

  • who thought the Internet was a passing fad and "one person, one pc" was mantra.

  • The best way to fix Microsoft is to go through all the senior execs office and replace their 1998 desk calendars with something a bit more recent.... Seriously based on both ex Microsoft employees testimony and their product line(large numbers of different, incompatible products aimed towards the same market), Microsoft execs don't seem to realize that it's no longer 1998 and they have real external competition. Most Microsoft senior execs seem to be too busy sniping at each other than they are at trying t
  • The reason Microsoft is in the current downward-spiraling condition is due to Bill Gates. He completely missed the onset of the Internet. He had to release a second version of his book, The Road Ahead in order to mention the Internet, as he ignored the widespread ramifications of the Internet the first time around. Innovation during his tenure was minimal, if existent at all.

    .
    What Microsoft needs now is a real visionary, not a phony one who built a company on borderline-illegal business practices.

    I

  • seriously this is the guy who 10 years ago was preaching "consistent user experience" for mobile devices. he had vision to put windows on mobile devices but screwed it up buy trying to jam a desktop GUI on a tiny screen.

    MS needs some fresh blood. Ballmer has been there almost as long as gates and paul allen founded the company. they need someone with no PC baggage to lead the company

  • ...was stop running Microsoft.

    History is littered with wildly successful startup companies turning into boring ones. It happened to Xerox. It happened to Apple. It happened to Microsoft. And it will happen to Google and Facebook too, to pick the current companies of the moment.

    Gates was, I think, smart enough to realize this and found something more exciting to do with his time than run a boring office products company.

  • by slasho81 (455509)
    Microsoft has 90,000 employees. Apple has 50,000. Both founded in the mid 70s. People who think companies of this scale and maturity rise or fall based on their CEO have no idea how organizations work. Slashdot should not give attention to bloggers offering solutions which are simplistic, ignorant, and arrogant.
  • The reason why Gates was so successful was not because he was an innovator, but because of countless acquisitions and the fact that he was able to get away with his unethical business practices for so long. It's how M$ gained its desktop monopoly. Which has since been eroding, not only because of the rise of Linux, Google, and Apple, but also because justice departments around the world have become more aware of how IT monopolies work, especially M$. Therefore, Gates can't come back and do it again with any
  • WIth Linux and Unix variants (Apple, Android, Ubuntu) spreading out into the desktop space Microsoft's #1 main market share tool is gone. Lock-in.

    Tool #2 is to buy-up the competition and kill it (Skype for Asterisk) thereby eliminating the possibility of any alternatives disrupting the Microsoft market space. This doesn't work so well with Open Source software. But that hasn't stopped M$ from trying.

    Tool #3 is to FUD,FUD,FUD the bejeezes out of the competition until a false sense of reality is created/belie
  • by Onymous Coward (97719) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @03:58PM (#36300898) Homepage

    The business was built up on desktop and office app dominance. But now operatings systems are turning into commodities with the advent of virtualization/emulation/cross-platform frameworks and with widespread, sophisticated web standards. Applications are turning into commodities with the reverse engineering of formats and the advent of new standards.

    Essentially, interoperability is bleeding the life out of Microsoft.

    Microsoft's (current state of) livelihood is based on barriers; let them suffer. They won't die, not any time soon -- they make solid operating systems. They do make good products, despite all the security issues and bugs we've seen. But now that they've lost their stranglehold on the market they become just another player. They won't grow this big again based on being just another vendor.

    This is what all those crazy advocates of "open standards" have been trying to achieve all this time. If all that griping about secret APIs and protocol pollution didn't make sense to you before, maybe it begins to make sense now.

    Where Microsoft clamped down on diversity, it can no longer. And the gradual technological progress that Microsoft offered can now be replaced with the fertile offerings of a far wider sphere of operating systems and applications developers. Things like the Great Languish -- IE's stagnation for half a decade during what should have been a period of explosive growth for web technology -- are no longer possible.

    I look forward to watching technology take huge strides, relative to what it had been doing under Microsoft's control.

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