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January 22, 2013 at 11:00 AM

Former Microsoft exec: Microsoft needs a big change in management

A former high-ranking Microsoft exec, who has written a book about his time at the software company, has some sharp criticism of CEO Steve Ballmer.

Joachim Kempin, who worked at Microsoft between 1983 and 2002 and for part of that time headed the company’s sales to computer makers, says that Ballmer isn’t the right person for the top job but retains it by pushing rivals out, according to an interview with Reuters, which says Kempin is the most senior former Microsoft exec to write a book critical of the company.

Kempin told Reuters:

For Microsoft to really get back in the game seriously, you need a big change in management. As much as I respect Steve Ballmer, he may be part of that in the end. …

Is he a great CEO? I don’t think so. Microsoft’s board is a lame duck board, has been forever. They hire people to help them administer the company, but not to lead the company. That’s the problem.

Kempin was among the high-ranking Microsoft execs embroiled with the U.S. government’s antitrust investigation of Microsoft from about 1998 to 2002. He had testified about Microsoft’s sales tactics during the antitrust trial.

He was also apparently not a stranger to aggressive tactics himself, for instance, at one point writing “an internal Microsoft e-mail that advocated retaliation against ‘unfriendly’ computer makers,” according to The Associated Press.

ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley, who wrote a profile of Kempin in 1998, characterizes him as “one of the main employees whose actions landed Microsoft in hot water with the U.S. Department of Justice in the late 1990s,” and details some of his other tactics here.

Kempin’s book is called “Resolve and Fortitude: Microsoft’s ‘Secret Power Broker’ breaks his silence.”

A Microsoft spokeswoman declined comment on the matter.

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