Steve Ballmer finally stepping down as CEO of Microsoft

Well, it has finally come, Ballmer has announced he will retire from Microsoft within the year. It hasn’t exactly been the trail of rainbows and unicorns we all hoped it would be. The reign of Steve has been a rocky one to put it mildly, marked with multiple product failures as well as multiple discontinued products. Many have said this Steve simply doesn’t have the technical prowess or vision of Gates. And it’s hard to argue that. As a sidekick, Ballmer was a great marketing man. He could build hype and desire for products and built Windows into a love child of the company. But with Ballmer in charge the company lacked the technical bite of the bygone Gates era. The product offerings simply weren’t as sharp. There have dozens of blunders such as Vista, Kin and Surface to name a few. Not to mention the on again off again gaming and hardware department. And in my opinion, Ballmer has pissed away Billion on this Bing folly.

Microsoft has never recovered from the 1999-2000 DOJ investigations. It was shaken to the core by possible split up and Ballmer was thrust into the limelight. Since then the company has put out shoddy products and dozens of extremely talented managers have walked away. Further, thousands of extremely talented engineers have walked away. It used to be everyone wanted to work for Microsoft. It was the dream of every nerd to get a job inside those hallowed halls to work on the beta on the next hot thing.

Now, I venture to say more people want to work for Google, Apple and Amazon. I will go so far as to say Microsoft is now seen as an IBM of the age. Their time has come and gone and the company that used to lead the charge is now falling in line and in many cases struggling to keep up. With Gates at the helm, Microsoft was printing money with the stock rocketing into the $170 range to split and rise again. Since Ballmer has taken over the stock is limp at a mere $30-35. Products are released that last only a single revision or they get renamed so many times people can’t tell it’s still around.

Make no mistake, Microsoft will be around, Windows Server, SQL and Exchange Server are very mature products that drive the Enterprise space. The Windows personal line is shambles and Windows Vista, and 8 are a blemish on the company name. Microsoft can’t win for losing when it comes to phones and they’ve proven once again they have no idea what they’re talking about when it comes to tablet. The tablet space will soon be dominated by Samsung and Apple.

Microsoft has missed the boat one too many times. Ballmer has had to back track and regroup far too many times. With that in mind, who’s going to take over? Who has the chops to lead the company out of darkness? Is there someone who can make Microsoft relevant and cool again? Microsoft isn’t struggling financially, but they aren’t the powerhouse they once were.

Putting that aside, this does mark the end of an era. For as long as I can remember it’s been Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer and Steve Jobs. Sadly, we have lost Jobs. Gates has stepped down and soon the other Steve will too. His performance of late hasn’t been spectacular but Ballmer has been the driving force of why so many of us are using Windows and his contribution to the computing will can hardly be overstated. The trio that made computing what it is today will soon be no more. In their own way they leave behind a massive computer legacy that will be hard to top.

It’s been one hell of a ride hasn’t it???

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