Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Janet I. Tu.
Topic: steve ballmer
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December 11, 2013 at 8:19 AM
Veteran Microsoft reporter Mary Jo Foley has a good interview in Fortune with retiring Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and other Microsoft execs in which they talk about Ballmer’s legacy.
December 5, 2013 at 8:11 AM
Well, this might throw a wrench into widespread speculation that Ford CEO Alan Mulally will be named Microsoft CEO shortly.
Edsel Ford II, a Ford company director, told Bloomberg News that “Alan is staying through the end of 2014 and that’s all I know” and that Mulally had “told us that his plan is to stay with Ford through the end of 2014.”
November 20, 2013 at 4:02 PM
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who said he would be retiring within 12 months, is one the company’s nine board members who were reelected to those positions at the annual shareholders’ meeting yesterday.
He was, however, reelected with the lowest percentage of “yes” votes: 90.66 percent, according to a company filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
November 19, 2013 at 12:14 PM
In a rather subdued, by-the-book Microsoft annual shareholders meeting today, two things stood out: Chairman Bill Gates took to the podium to speak and he choked up at the end, as he talked about this being Steve Ballmer’s last shareholders meeting as CEO of the company.
August 26, 2013 at 6:00 AM
There was Windows Vista, but then came Windows 7.
There was the Kin, but there was also the Xbox.
The company fell way behind on mobile, but it still plays a huge role in corporations.
Microsoft has had many stumbles and failings over the years, but it’s also had its successes and strengths.
That bad-news, good-news split is indicative of the challenges, and the advantages, facing any successor to Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer.
Ballmer, who has been CEO for 13 years, announced Friday that he would be retiring once his successor has been chosen within the next 12 months.
Here are five challenges, and five advantages, his successor will face.
Microsoft actually came out with a smartphone and a tablet before Apple came out with the iPhone or iPad.
But it was Apple that figured out how to make those devices wildly popular to consumers.
These days, Microsoft has only about a 3.3 percent worldwide market share in smartphones — although that’s slowly inching up — and Windows Phone has overtaken BlackBerry as the No. 3 smartphone operating system.
Similarly, Windows tablets’ market share went up from 1 percent to 4.5 percent over the past year, according to research firm IDC.
But if Microsoft doesn’t continue to make inroads on mobile devices, “They will start to see some market erosion in their other businesses,” said Norman Young, analyst with investment research firm Morningstar.
2. Post-PC era
We are in what some call the “post-PC era,” or, as Microsoft likes to call it, the “PC-plus era.”
Whatever the case, it means that people are turning less to their PCs and more to their mobile devices to accomplish much of what they used to do on their desktops or laptops.
And that’s a huge worry for Microsoft.
For many years, Microsoft has had a cash cow in Windows. But now that the PC market isn’t growing, while the markets for tablets and smartphones are, that source of revenue is slowing.
Another related problem: The margins for Microsoft on smartphones or tablets are lower than what it gets from PC manufacturers.
“Any time a PC is sold by Dell, HP or Lenovo, if it’s a consumer-oriented product, Microsoft sees about $40 to $50,” said Al Gillen, an analyst with research firm IDC. “If it’s enterprise (meaning corporations), it’s more like $100 for Microsoft.
“The license fee per unit for phones and tablets are not going to be in the same magnitudes,” Gillen said. “Which means Microsoft has to adjust its thinking to lower price, lower margin but much higher volume.”
The next CEO, said J.P. Gownder, an analyst with research firm Forrester, “really needs to come to terms with the relative decline of the PC as a computing tool.”
Xbox aside, Microsoft has had a hard time connecting with consumers on a number of its products.
Its Surface tablet — particularly the Surface RT model — has not sold well. Windows 8 is getting a lukewarm reception. Windows tablets and smartphones have yet to break 5 percent worldwide market share.
And rightly or wrongly, Microsoft is still fighting the image left over from those old Apple Mac vs PC commercials: That it’s stodgy, corporate, boring.
The company has been battling that image with marketing efforts such as Surface commercials featuring dancing tablet users and product launches featuring sports stars and other celebrities.
[Continue reading the story here.]
August 23, 2013 at 6:24 AM
[This post has been updated with an interview with Steve Ballmer and CEO succession committee head John Thompson. The fuller text of the interview is here.
My story on Ballmer's mixed legacy, running in the print edition of The Seattle Times Aug. 24, 2013, is here.]
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is retiring within the next 12 months, the company announced today.
Ballmer, 57, will retire once a successor has been chosen.
July 15, 2013 at 6:00 AM
[In case you missed it, here's a one-on-one interview with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer that ran in the print edition of The Seattle Times on July 14, 2013.]
On Thursday, CEO Steve Ballmer announced one of Microsoft’s most sweeping reorganization in years, designed to increase collaboration and speed of innovation as the company transitions into a devices-and-services company.
He realigned the company according to function, cutting in half the number of product divisions and centralizing operational services.
In an interview with The Seattle Times after that announcement, Ballmer talked about how he intends to carry out that restructuring, how the company’s stack-ranking job-performance review system fits into his push for broader cooperation, and whether there’s a succession plan.
Here is the interview, edited for length:
Q: The reorganization is designed to enhance collaboration. I’m wondering how you plan on (executing) that. Is that more in the people who are heading these new units or in the structure with the cross-company teams?
A: I think it starts with the strategy. We’re not working on divisional strategies that we roll out; we’re working on a company strategy that we roll down. That’s No. 1, a single strategy.
No. 2 is goal sets. As we begin our new financial year (which started July 1), we start with a set of shared goals as opposed to a set of divisional goals that we then try to get some layer of harmonization against.
No. 3, we’re being quite explicit with particularly our engineering people that they own engineering areas. (For instance) the network team does networking, and they’re going to be the networking team for Microsoft, not that there’s going to be three or four networking teams…
No. 4, there is some work on the culture, and particularly underscoring the need to focus more. We talked about five key attributes: being nimble, communicative, collaborative, decisive and motivated — and collaborative and communicative are key parts of this.
Q: How do you plan to inculcate that?
[Continue reading the interview here.]
February 20, 2013 at 4:46 PM
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has talked frequently about how the company is shifting from providing mainly software into a devices-and-services company. He expounds further on his vision for Microsoft’s future in a recent interview with MIT Technology Review.
When asked what Microsoft’s vision for the future of computing is, Ballmer said: “We’re about defining the future of productivity, entertainment and communication. In the new world, software is going to have to come in kind of an integrated form — or at least a well-designed form that includes cloud services and devices.”
Ballmer also offered some interesting breakdowns on what percentage of some of its most popular products go to consumers vs. businesses. “Sixty-five percent of all PCs go to the consumer, not to the enterprise,” he said. “Seventy percent of all Office suites go to the consumer, not the enterprise. One hundred percent of all Xboxes go to the consumers, not the enterprise. Now, we’ve monetized the enterprise better than the consumer, there’s no question about that.”
As far as the company’s track record with consumer products, he said: “Is there a lack of understanding, or in some cases do I wish our execution had been better? I would say the latter. In cases where we’ve embraced end-user needs and really sort of dived in, like the things that we’ve done with Kinect and the Xbox, I think we’ve done a heck of a job. Which is not to say that we cannot do this work with our OEMs.”
He also — kind of — addressed how sales of Surface were going (Microsoft has not released sales figures for the Surface, but analysts have estimated sales of the Surface RT tablet at below a million. The Surface Pro, which has been facing apparent supply problems, launched earlier this month). In response to a question about whether he was pleased with Surface sales and whether it’s a real business, Ballmer said: “Surface is a real business. In an environment in which there’s 350 million PCs sold, I don’t think Surface is going to dominate volume, but it’s a real business.”
You can read the full interview here.
February 19, 2013 at 6:15 AM
In an interview with Charlie Rose for “CBS This Morning,” Microsoft chairman and co-founder Bill Gates talked about the work of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation but he also offered some thoughts on whether he’s happy with CEO Steve Ballmer
When asked if he was happy with Ballmer’s performance, Gates said: “Well, he and I are two of the most self-critical people — you can imagine. There were a lot of amazing things that Steve’s leadership got done with the company last year: Windows 8 is key to the future, the Surface computer, Bing — people have seen is a better search product, Xbox. Is it enough? No. He and I are not satisfied that, in terms of breakthrough things, that we’re doing everything possible.”
Rose then asked: “Every time you see an article about Microsoft, it’s not so much about the success of Surface or Bing… It is about what happened at Microsoft or five things you ought to do to Microsoft. When you see these things, what do you think?
Gates replied, laughing: “We appreciate the advice.”
Gates also admitted that there are things like cell phones where Microsoft didn’t get out with an early lead. When asked why or if it was just something that the company missed, Gates said: “That’s too complicated. We didn’t miss cell phones. But the way that we went about it didn’t allow us to get the leadership. It’s clearly a mistake.”