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Ballmer Leaves Microsoft Board 142

Posted by Soulskill
from the retirement!-retirement!-retirement! dept.
jones_supa writes: After leaving his position as CEO of Microsoft a year ago, Steve Ballmer has still held a position as a member of the board of directors for the company. Now, he is leaving the board, explaining why in a letter to fresh Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. "I have become very busy," Ballmer explains. "I see a combination of Clippers, civic contribution, teaching and study taking up a lot of time." Despite his departure, the former-CEO is still invested in the company's success, and he spent most of the letter encouraging Nadella and giving advice. Nadella shot back a supportive, equally optimistic response, promising that Microsoft will thrive in "the mobile-first, cloud-first world."
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Ballmer Leaves Microsoft Board

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  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @04:54PM (#47706691)

    . . . customer last.

    Burma Shave.

  • ""Nadella shot back a supportive, equally optimistic response, promising that Microsoft will thrive in "the mobile-first, cloud-first world."""
    I'd be pretty surprised if Microsoft was able to worm its way into mobile on anything like the scale it had/has with desktops. Cloud stuff? Perhaps...
    • Re:Oh really... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by afidel (530433) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @05:06PM (#47706807)

      They're already the second largest Iaas provider after Amazon (EC2 vs Azure) and the second largest business Saas provider after Salesforce (SF vs Office365/Dynamics cloud). As they cloudify more of their offerings they'll be able to capture plenty of revenue from mobile, and since they'll actually be eating their own dogfood their tools for large customers should get better and more and more small customers will just host with them.

      • Indeed, they do seem to be a large presence in the cloud. But still, mobile?
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Cyberax (705495)
        Except that Azure is crap and the only reason they are the second is that Google gives even less crap about Google Compute. Amazon is waaaaaaay better in almost any regard (price, availability, API design, documentation, the quality of products, the number of products, and so on).
  • Mobile first? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @04:56PM (#47706705)

    WTF! Then why did he lay off me and all of my friends that work on mobile? No. They gave-up on mobile when they laid-off most of the mobile employees.

    • by mbkennel (97636)
      That's exactly how Microsoft is going to thrive in the mobile-first world. By getting the fuck out.

      Nadella knows what's up (i.e. Elop & Ballmer are tumors) and how they're not really capable.

      But seriously, that's a smart idea, they're writing the software & hosting the infrastructure for the back end services.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      It should be pretty obvious that this point that mobile isn't all that it's cracked up to be, even if executives need to at least pretend in public that it's still relevant, to save face.

      Smartphones haven't moved much beyond text messaging (or apps that offer similar functionality), email, games, and basic web browsing. Many corporate users just use them for email and occasional phone calls. There's really nothing to be monetized there.

      Netbooks have proven to be an abysmal failure. Customers just don't want

      • by mbkennel (97636) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @07:09PM (#47707801)
        | Tablets have also failed in the market. Apple is the only vendor to have seen some success, but that was built more upon hype and the quasi-religious attitude that many people hold toward Apple devices, rather than out of any real need or use for such devices. Outside of a small number of niche use cases, people in general have found tablets to be useless.

        The niche use cases are
        a) reading email
        b) sending messages
        c) using web apps
        d) watching movies
        e) playing games

        which as it turns out are very common.

        However it's true that Microsoft doesn't have a huge play here on the terminal (tablet end), but it does on the service end.

        It just means that now such software will be expected to be readable and usable (for some things) on a tablet terminal as well as a laptop terminal. There's plenty of traveling businessmen who might want to access a service application through a tablet (e.g sales force) that starts in 2 seconds when they're in the airport instead of using the whole laptop.

        For Microsoft, tablets are not an opportunity to make hardware or sell operating systems (the total global revenue from tablet operating system sales is $0), but only as another terminal to hosted applications.

        They should stick to writing business software. Instead of trying to fight and lose against very capable competitors in their primary niches, i.e. Google and Apple, they should compete in the space of general business software. There's much more opportunity beyond Office. Soft targets, for example all of Oracle's horrid non-database application software, where the standards are egregiously low, and make Office seem like a work from Michelangelo.
        • by Bonker (243350)

          I wish I had upvotes for you.

          I am a power user. I'm currently surrounded by two very powerful PCs... rather a high-end 'docked' mac laptop dedicated to development work and a frankenstein's monster BYOC dedicated to gaming, Watching and converting video (-- Anime junkie) and artwork.

          I also own a little Samsung Android tablet. Despite the mobile development workstation, I use the ever-loving snot out of that tablet. I use it to watch video I've converted for it, read books and magazines, browse web while sea

      • Netbooks were a passing fad because they weren't quite good enough, and part of the reason they weren't quite good enough is that Microsoft imposed artificial restrictions on their hardware (display size and resolution, RAM) in an attempt to protect their main Windows business. The new crop of low cost Windows laptops will be good enough, because now they have competition from Chromebooks and they have to match the competition. It's likely that some of them will BE Chromebooks with a different keyboard and
      • Smartphones offer email and messaging (they mostly also can make phone calls). They also offer all sorts of PDA functions. What more do you expect something that size to do? There's plenty of money to be made there (at least for Apple and Samsung).

        I'm not as sure about Netbooks. Chromebooks have possibilities, and they haven't been out all that long, so I'm not calling them a failure. Not now, anyway.

        Tablets have succeeded in the market. Apple has sold a whole lot, and you don't get Apple. They

  • Microsoft remained profitable under Ballmer, but then it also missed some huge opportunities, and totally lost markets that it dominated (like mobile OS with Windows CE / Pocket PC). I give him a C. Maybe a C-.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      M$ never dominated the mobile market with WinCe or PPC

      They were highly unpopular compared with the Black Berry and Palm Pilots.

      • Re: C (Score:5, Informative)

        by Dan East (318230) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @06:01PM (#47707295) Homepage Journal

        I'm sorry but you're incorrect. In 2007 Windows Mobile had the largest market share of any OS for mobile devices, with 42% of the market:
        http://bgr.com/2011/12/13/appl... [bgr.com]

        They had tied Blackberry the year before, and edged them out in 2007 which was when iPhone was released. Then the next year iPhone took over.

        Going back pre-smartphone, when the only real players in the PDA arena were Palm and Microsoft, Microsoft surpassed Palm in 2004, and from then on it was all downhill for Palm as they tried to update an archaic OS to utilize advances in hardware.
        http://www.pcpro.co.uk/news/65... [pcpro.co.uk]

        Microsoft soundly won the PDA war, but then were totally decimated soon after the PDA market transitioned into the Smart Phone market. In turn, Palm, then Blackberry, then Microsoft all owned the market and then stagnated, failed to innovate, and were superseded by new OSes that didn't have legacy issues (or trying to maintain backwards compatibility, etc).

        • Going back pre-smartphone, when the only real players in the PDA arena were Palm and Microsoft, Microsoft surpassed Palm in 2004, and from then on it was all downhill for Palm as they tried to update an archaic OS to utilize advances in hardware.

          So you're saying that, during the past few years, Microsoft has basically been slogging through the same experience Palm went through a decade ago.

          • Going back pre-smartphone, when the only real players in the PDA arena were Palm and Microsoft, Microsoft surpassed Palm in 2004, and from then on it was all downhill for Palm as they tried to update an archaic OS to utilize advances in hardware.

            So you're saying that, during the past few years, Microsoft has basically been slogging through the same experience Palm went through a decade ago.

            Lets hope they meet the same end up. Bought up by HP killed by corporate mismanagement and open sourced at a later date.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          No that was US only, the world and overall were Symbian by a large margin.

          What you're saying is that Microsoft dominated the US carrier market for a few years, in the same way that Sony dominated the Japanese domestic market.

          There is no 'winner' in a technology war, the war is never ending and Microsoft were never top dog except in one market.

          • Symbian can't really be said to have ever dominated the smartphone market, despite its large market share. Most of the Symbian devices were never used in a way that we would recognize as smartphone use; there was little use of apps at all and users never installed any additional apps.
    • To keep those windfall profits rolling in, Microsoft only ever knew two tricks: 1) turn on your partners 2) do not respect the law.

  • I sure will miss him. Naawt! How many chips will he have to cash in on to buy the Clippers? Only enough to keep the price of MS stock from tumbling, like Bill does.
  • by wisnoskij (1206448) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @05:02PM (#47706763) Homepage
    .... Ya, if I was Ballmer I would be distancing myself and selling stock as fast as I could.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    they nailed the chairs down.

  • His ability to cause maximum damage and employee discomfort will be somewhat curtailed. Too bad about that. Hopefully Nadella can fill his clown shoes.

  • Exhibit 153B. Sociopaths in natural habitat.

  • by Snufu (1049644)
    will find--fill his chair?
  • by Ckwop (707653) <Simon.Johnson@gmail.com> on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @05:29PM (#47707005) Homepage

    Microsoft doesn't have many fans on Slashdot but even the most die-hard of fans must now see that they're in a real bad position.

    The used to be invincible in the consumer space but now the computing device of choice is either the tablet or the smart phone. Precious few of these are Windows based.

    The used to be invincible in the business user space but the move to mobile computing means business people are using iPhone and iPads, not Windows Phones and Surface.

    Then there's Bing, who's only claim to fame is being the world's greatest search engine. For. Porn.

    Then there's Azure. We actually looked at Azure and discovered that the same hardware in EC2 was half the price. If you going to twice as much you might as well give up and go home.

    Then there was the own goal of the latest generation XBox. They managed to piss everyone off for no discernible gain.

    The only area their grip is still strong is PC gaming. For how long, who knows?

    Microsoft is a spent force. They're out of ideas. In a few short years they've gone from being the 800lb gorilla to just struggling just to remain relevant.

    It reminds me of Brazil versus Germany at this year's world cup. I'm not celebrating any more; it's just sad at this point.

    • by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @05:43PM (#47707111)

      Then there's Bing, who's only claim to fame is being the world's greatest search engine. For. Porn.

      Wait... it is? Seriously? I've got a friend who actually cares about this. I'll "let him know".

      • by Ksevio (865461)
        I'm convinced this is just an underground effort by bing's PR team to get the Internet to like it for something
      • by dyslexicbunny (940925) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @06:29PM (#47707525)

        Google aggressively filters out porn from the results. Bing doesn't. Which is convenient when you want to find porn.

        • Doesn't adding the keyword "porn" to the Google search stop all of that filtering?

        • I find porn on Google all the time. Google video search has tons of porn if you use the right search terms.
          • "Google video search has tons of porn if you use the right search terms."

            Please prove your point, with ample examples if possible.

      • by T.E.D. (34228)

        Then there's Bing, who's only claim to fame is being the world's greatest search engine. For. Porn.

        Wait... it is? Seriously? I've got a friend who actually cares about this. I'll "let him know".

        Given how incredibly hard it sucks at looking up technical information, I suspect it would be awesome in porn.

    • by David_Hart (1184661) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @06:28PM (#47707519)

      Microsoft doesn't have many fans on Slashdot but even the most die-hard of fans must now see that they're in a real bad position.

      The used to be invincible in the consumer space but now the computing device of choice is either the tablet or the smart phone. Precious few of these are Windows based.

      The used to be invincible in the business user space but the move to mobile computing means business people are using iPhone and iPads, not Windows Phones and Surface.

      Then there was the own goal of the latest generation XBox. They managed to piss everyone off for no discernible gain.

      The only area their grip is still strong is PC gaming. For how long, who knows?

      Microsoft mice are still popular... (grin)

      The XBox and PS3 were pretty much even, there was no clear definitive advantage for Microsoft. Plus, we don't even know if Microsoft ever broke even with the Xbox.

      Microsoft's bread-n-butter has always been MS Office, Desktop OS, and the Enterprise space. MS is developing Office Apps for the iPad and Android, PC/Laptop sales have stabilized as people realize that they still need them to edit and create content, and the Enterprise space is doing better than ever with the advent of virtual servers.

      I'm not saying that Microsoft doesn't have challenges but saying that they are "struggling just to remain relevant" shows a lack of understanding about the business as a whole. As proof, in Q4 2014 Microsoft enterprise sales "increased $2.3 billion or 6%, due primarily to increased revenue from our server products". A $2.3 billion dollar increase in one quarter is nothing to sneeze at...

      http://www.microsoft.com/Inves... [microsoft.com]

      • by mcrbids (148650)

        Revenue for a company on the way out frequently looks really rosy right up to the last bit. Take a look at Nokia which was making massive profits by not investing in smart phones. They had massive market share in "feature phones" that overwhelmingly outsold smart phones. That is, until they became so passe that even the kids didn't want one. Now the pieces are being sold off to... wait!

        You know, I didn't even mean to pick Nokia because of its relationship with Microsoft, but it just occurred to me... Whelp!

      • I'm not saying that Microsoft doesn't have challenges but saying that they are "struggling just to remain relevant" shows a lack of understanding about the business as a whole. As proof, in Q4 2014 Microsoft enterprise sales "increased $2.3 billion or 6%, due primarily to increased revenue from our server products". A $2.3 billion dollar increase in one quarter is nothing to sneeze at..

        I agree to a certain extent; however, you should consider that when a giant falls, giant changes occur. What I mean is this, you could easily see a $2.3 billion INCREASE in revenue and still know that the business is in trouble. Yes, that is an obscenely huge increase for most businesses... but Microsoft is not most businesses. $2.3 billion is actually closer to chump change on their scale.

        There is a lot of yelling and screaming about innovation, but there is none at Microsoft. They see their rewards dangli

  • by TeknoHog (164938) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @05:33PM (#47707045) Homepage Journal
    Chairs or it didn't happen.
  • by u19925 (613350) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @05:45PM (#47707125)

    Dear Satya,

    I sincerely feel that microsoft stock is very high and is unsustainable over a long period. I cannot sell my stock while still on microsoft board. By leaving the board, I will be able to sell the stock before it crashes. Why do you think, I made you CEO in the first place?

    Your former boss.

  • a slim chance, to be sure. they have lost a lot of ground.

    ---
    message sent from surface pro 3

    • by symbolset (646467) *
      Office is their last line of defence. But the walls will not hold. Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more; Or close the wall up with our English dead.
  • Title says it all

  • I'm not sure if "I bleed Microsoft" was a painful or positive experience.

  • Dear Mr. Nadella, IBM still makes mainframes. Please don't forget that. Sincerely, "Legacy".

  • SB: Don. I want to buy a basketball team.
    DS: That's not going to help sell more Zunes, Steve.
    SB: Uh, yeah well it's time for new challenges, if you know what I mean. But between steering Microsoft
    into an iceberg and my well known temper tantrums, I'm afraid the NBA won't let me buy a team.
    DS: I'll put in a good word for you.
    SB: That's not going to cut it, Don. What I need is for you to create a distraction. A train wreck caliber
    disturbance so profound the NBA will be glad to have me.
    DS: Oh my
  • Sorry Balmer, that still isn't far enough.

    Nuke him from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.

  • said Ballmer "how much skull-peeling screaming can I do?"
  • he spent most of the letter encouraging Nadella and giving advice

    I would be cautious with advices from the guy that has just been fired. Just saying I heard them may cause MS quotation to drop.

  • by Tom (822) on Wednesday August 20, 2014 @03:52AM (#47710335) Homepage Journal

    "the mobile-first, cloud-first world."

    This sums up the core MS issue better than anything else I've ever read. MS has never been innovative, but worse: It has never been a company that likes change. Their world-view is static and stationary. While they acknowledge the world is changing (reality can be quite persuasive), they don't see movement, they see a succession of stationary status quos.

    They will now throw everything at becoming the perfect company for the picture of the world they have. And in five years look out the window and see that the world has changed - again.

    It's also the reason we all hate MS - due to their still existing stranglehold on computing, they keep much of the rest of the world static with them. The damage done by preventing innovation and progress is easily ten times MS net worth.

    All because some people don't understand that life is dynamic.

    • by johnsie (1158363)
      Nonsense. Microsoft were the ones who brought desktop computing into the mainstream. Their "status quo" gave users an interface that they were famililar and comfortable with. Only when they started changing things around did it get bad. What are the alternatives? A company like Apple that is even more evil? Amateur Linux source applications which are lacking in quality? Let's face it LibreOffice is poorly coded, badly designed and alot slower than Microsoft Office. Most Linux apps have poor interfaces and
      • Actually, IBM brought desktop computing into the mainstream, and Microsoft was not necessary for that.

      • by Tom (822)

        Microsoft were the ones who brought desktop computing into the mainstream.

        But they did neither invent it nor made they any innovative progress. They are a marketing company - good at repacking other peoples inventions and selling them to a mainstream market.

        What are the alternatives?

        Thanks to over 20 years of monopoly practices and systematical destruction of potential rivals, indeed there aren't very many. But that's like saying that you don't have any alternatives to being a muslim in Iraq. Just because someone has taken away all your other choices doesn't mean the remaining choice is any good.

        and alot slower than Microsoft Office.

        True, but

    • This is what Bill Gates meant to Microsoft, even towards the end. Microsoft is what it is because he could see what was coming. And he could move the whole company where it needed to go. (True, they were late on the internet,but what a pivot they made).I just don't see anybody else able to fill that role.

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