For one man, he sure has a lot of failures on his plate.
Has a lot of failures on his plate for one man? Please hand this comment an award for middlebrow remark of the year.
Let's put Steve Ballmer's accomplishments in perspective: Have you tripled a multi-billion dollar company's revenue over ten years? Did you launch the Xbox? Did you launch Windows Phone (10% marketshare in 3 years)? Did you launch Bing (growing faster than the search market)? Did you grow .NET into the most widely adopted application development platform in the world? Did you grow the Windows Server business out of nothing compared to where it was 15 years ago? Did you turn Visual Studio into the gold standard for IDEs?
Didn't think so. Ballmer will be remembered for one great mistake, and that's denying Microsoft's culture and employees a strong technical visionary over the course of his tenure.
Ballmer is a COO, kind of like the guy running Apple these days - neither Ballmer nor Tim Cook have a strong ability to anticipate changes in the way technology is consumed compared to their predecessors. And this is largely what's responsible for Microsoft's big whiffs - they missed the mark multiple times on the consumerization of technology.
People are already starting to grumble many of the same criticisms of Tim Cook's innovation that they did about Steve Ballmer, and who can blame them? Over the past three years all Apple has shipped are the same products they had before but with different screen sizes.
However, that doesn't mean that Tim Cook won't be successful in growing Apple's business, nor does it mean that Steve Ballmer was a failure.
As an ex-Microsoftie, I could not be happier to see Steve go. The company needs a technical visionary in order to stop having to play from behind every time there's a change in the market.
But to call Steve a failure is utter nonsense and requires overlooking all of the successes that he and Microsoft had during his tenure.
They already had the most widely adopted platform in Win32. The transition to .NET was horrible. No one was sure what .NET actually meant for a while, as it was used in marketing for all kinds of things. They also seemed to change their minds every few months about how which platform people should use. Finally it converged, and .NET is not bad. But they already owned the desktop app OS and dev platform since the mid 90s, when they overtook Borland and others.
All I know is that for a sample of 1, me, I used to use (and really like) the Borland (Pascal, C, ...) compilers in the late 80s and early 90s. Then, I started doing more unix and then Linux work. GCC, perl and later Java was there. By the time Delphi was there, it was too late - Java had already provided a free equivalent. (Java is just Modula + OOP + UCSD-P-code in C++ clothing)
More than iOS and Android SDKs?
There are 1.5 billion PCs world wide.
Are all of them running .NET?
Gee, when have we heard this before. Oh, yes: when the iPhone was released.
This is why these "mobility" servers like IBM WorkLight or SAP/Sybase Unwired are hot products.
Blackberry's are going away, we have remote email via iOS, and its only a matter of time before other people get the gear sales has.
I think the big difference is, Cook doesn't seem to be pushing innovative people out. The only big head to roll under Cook's watch was Scott Forstall's, and apparently he left because he clashed with Jonny Ive (and wanted to go to war with Google in the machine learning space - not just having a few in-house alternatives, but trying to lock Google out of the iPhone to promote Apple's stuff).
The same thing happened with WinPhone. MSFT spent a lot of time developing an honestly pretty decent OS, only to have its launch lineup filled with unimaginative, plasticky bullshit phones from Samsung and LG.
I for one think Microsoft's messy divorce from OEMs is a great thing, my only disappointment was that they didn't throw the OEMs under the bus at supersonic speed.
Agree with this statement. OEMs is also the one of the reasons why Android gets a bad rep. Android doesn't suck, it just gets thrown into incompatible and low spec'd devices and when the lag starts rolling in, people blame the OS. I guess this is one of those unavoidable quirks of being an OS vendor and having no say in the hardware. Atleast in Microsofts case, if they wanted, they could get restrict their OS from being installed on an under spec'd device but would Google be able to do the same, especially in light of Android's openness?
Aside from the odd "Apple has better hardware" bit (they use the same binned devices that other OEMs like Dell do, so not sure where that comes from), you've benchmarked this purported speed difference?
Because most of the crapware that companies like Dell, HP, and others put on, while irritating, consumes exactly 0% of processor or I/O time, and has zero impact on performance of the device, beyond the hysterical, easily-convinced responses of the placebo effect. The vast majority is nothing more than trials. It's irritating, and wastes users time if you want to clean up your desktop and app lists, but the commonly stated impact is just not at all supported.
And then there's the issue of what exactly is crapware and what isn't. Buy a pure Windows device and you'll be pestered endlessly for Skydrive, Hotmail, Bing, photo backups, Xbox coupling, active your Office trial, etc (just as if you buy an xbox 360 and then pay for the privilege of using it online, in return you get ads and sponsored placements on your dashboard).
Apple is predominately a hardware vendor that has made enormous bank on that (pivoting their MP3 player market into a smartphone market into a tablet market into a bonafide desktop market). Microsoft is predominately a software vendor.
Everyone told Microsoft that they should mirror Apple: it got them a billion dollar+ write down so far, and offended all of their prior allies to start grouping behind alternatives. This "Microsoft should be like Apple" plan isn't really paying dividends.
Apple pushed IPS screens when PC OEMs were happy with the lowest quality TFT panels available. For years Apple insisted on having a proper GPU in their machines, until Intel finally was able to offer a competitive IGP. And finally Apple also moved forward with SSDs early on.
Add on top of that, Apple's laptops look good. Asus is one of the few PC OEMs making laptops that are even within striking distance of Apple, but their distribution and advertising is abysmal. Asus's best ultrabook was exclusively available from Amazon for the longest time! And then their model numbers are so confusing I knew what I wanted to buy but I couldn't figure out exactly what magic combination of model numbers equated to the machine that I desired.
Every PC Laptop out there has "something" missing from it. Then there is the terrible buying experience, pretty much the only sane way to buy a Dell or an HP machine is to find a magic sales link that takes you to the site which will now show you the real price of the laptop, rather than the rather insane price that is shown by default.
> Buy a pure Windows device and you'll be pestered endlessly for Skydrive, Hotmail, Bing, photo backups
Really? Pestered? I signed into my MS account and my Skydrive files are synced down, but aside from that, I've had no other notifications or requests on either of my Win8 machines. Granted these are both raw Win8 installs.
Even stayed one CPU generation back in order to do so.
There have always been a diversity of options available in the PC market, and those who wanted to pay the premium for an IPS screen (you know, Apple still sells devices with TN screens...), GPU, or SSD could. Picking the lowest priced PC and pointing and jeering "see!!???" is not a useful tactic, just as someone can't point at the Macbook Pro and jeer at the price without equalizing hardware.
On the phone side, for several years, the iPhone had the BEST possible screen available on any phone because they invested in the panel and locked up the supply (since they paid for it) while other phone makers were content with lower resolution screens.
This is the mythology of Apple that is so bizarre. Apple overshot competitors not because Apple has such a dedication to technology excellence (I mean, at the time their offerings were dramatically behind all competitors), but because the simplicity of the SDK meant that they had to simply double existing resolutions.
It's going to be interesting to see what Apple does with the market-lagging iPad Mini on the refresh -- double each dimension resolution, yielding a hilariously excessive pixel density purely to maintain the wrong-headed SDK?
I call bullshit, that's not how I remember it at all.
The iPhone 4 was released in June 2010 at 960x640. The Samsung Galaxy S2 wasn't available until 11 months later - May 2011, at 800x480. The Motorola Droid X was also available May 2011, at 960x540, along with the HTC Sensation, with the same resolution.
This is the mythology of anti-Apple postings that is so bizarre. They just know that Apple is always technologically inferior.
By 2012, the Android competition has gotten better than Apple in resolution... but only because Apple made resolution important.
But it was also not the first. The Nexus One/HTC Desire had also 800x480 resolution - 6 months before iPhone 4. Also, the original Motorola Droid - available since November 2009 - had 854x480 resolution.
I'm talking about when the first iPhone came out (2007?) and you couldn't find a multi-touch capacitive touch screen in any mass market device that was able to match the precision and responsiveness of what Apple delivered in v1 of their mobile phone. It was not for a few years that competitive devices came out with a screen that had the same level of responsiveness.
In the laptop arena? Not so much.
When buying my last laptop (~2 years ago) I wanted a 14" laptop, 1080p IPS screen, and a quality dedicated GPU.
I was out of luck, NO ONE made a machine like that. I could get any of those two, but not all three. I ended up with a 14" 1080 TFT and a GPU.
A few laptop manufacturers have started pushing the boundaries of quality, but it is by no means universal. Even today getting a well build (e.g. not Clevo) 14" machine with a GPU and a good screen isn't easy, you have a couple of options to choose from.
Suffice to say for my laptop purchase I bought my own SSD and installed it myself, much more powerful and lower cost than anything the OEM was offering at the time.
1 - Startup time is affected by all the bloat
2 - Trial for slow/crappy AV, affects IO and CPU usage (more than other anti-virus)
3 - OEM "tools" that make it "easier" to use the computer, consuming a non trivial amount of CPU to check for updates, show several tray icons because of course you need a special utility to switch from builtin screen to external monitor even though the builtin one works better and by the way do you want to sign up to our special partner offers?
I suggest you smash a finger with a hammer, when I did that it hurt but of course it's only anecdotal evidence
I have used countless installs of Windows, through MSDN, retail, Technet, and through vendors like Dell. I happen to avoid being a suggestible simpleton so I don't simply adopt the sophistry that is so common. Sorry if this offends you into hilarious insults.
It's not a matter of benchmark, it's about computing 101.
This is utter nonsense. There simply is no other way to put it.
There have always been premium Windows machines (Sony was doing the extremely-thin, fits in an envelope, made-with-unobtanium laptop thing years before Apple did), and discount machines. Focus-on-aesthetics machines, and ugly but functional machines.
That is how a diverse ecosystems work, and the consumer gets to choose what they want, and what matches their priorities (the fact that you have some sort of hipsterism dislike of "plasticy" should not restrict my purchase when I see it as simply a material that is often optimal. I don't have a fetish for materials).
Not 100% true. I remember buying a $2000 Vaio Z a couple years ago that had the option of getting a clean windows install (for $50 more)
I believe it was somewhere around $800, and is a perfect device for my needs. Spent a few minutes after booting removing the various trials of junk on it.
Colour me clueless, I guess.
$550. People who buy Macs can't even conceive that you can buy 4 PC notebooks for the price they are buying 1 Mac notebook. They can't conceive that the typical person doesn't buy overpriced Ultrabooks that are different only in marketing name.
All they will say is that their computer "holds its resale value" or that it will "last longer". When it is literally 4x more expensive for equivalent speed, these things are meaningless.
When I have a notebook, I don't want it to weight 10lbs because I'll be walking around with it. What's the point in having a fast notebook when you dread taking it around with you? I also appreciate the design aesthetic and the "it just works" feeling I get when I use OS X. The battery life is great, the laptop is portable, the design is beautiful, I get the job done. That's why I use my Mac notebook and that's what I'm paying for.
Once I switched to mac I began to focus more on the work I do, and less on the machine I use to do it. Plus, I sold my 3 year old MacBook Air for ~70% of it's value, whereas my brother was barely able to sell his 2 year old xps 15z (which is NOT a cheap laptop) for ~40% of it's value.
Another thing I have noticed is that many Windows laptops have their own strengths, ThinkPads have great keyboards and are indestructible but are pretty thick, not very stylish, and still quite expensive. The Asus Zenbook has great build quality and looks very stylish, but is also expensive, has a finicky trackpad, not the best keyboard, and still has some bullshit software that comes preinstalled (although it is better than most Windows machines in this regard). That's what I love about my MacBook, sure it's expensive, but it has amazing build quality, it's plenty fast for 99% of my needs, has an amazing screen, no malware when you buy it, the best trackpad in the industry, keyboard is as good as the ThinkPad (in some ways better, in some worse), the warranty is unmatchable, and the resale value is also the best in the industry. These are the things that matter to me now.
Much like they don't see cars as fungible transportation commodities priced in $/Watt and $/N·m.
Windows laptops are packed full of hardware and software crap that nobody really wants. Fingerprint readers are unsafe toys. 17 inch monitors make it impossible to use comfortably on your lap. Doesn't matter how many cells are in your battery, it won't outlast mine because Windows drinks juice like a sailor.
I don't care how much more money I'm paying for my MacBook over a comparably specced PC. There's just no comparison. Software, hardware, support. I took my laptop to the Apple Store three times last year, got a quick turnaround and paid nothing for the repairs. I did not have to go through a phone maze or argue with anybody.
People who buy PCs just don't understand quality. Only price.
You're making a logical fallacy: "I don't want this feature, therefore nobody wants this feature."
I just helped a friend pick out a new laptop. He insisted on a 17-inch screen. This was his single absolute must-have. No 17-inch screen? No purchase. Any other spec was negotiable. The screen was an absolute must-have. Even a 15.6-inch screen was too small for him.
Weight? He didn't care. Battery life? He didn't care. It had to have a 17-inch screen. He didn't want to use it on his lap. He wanted a desktop replacement that he'd keep plugged in all the time -- with the option of picking it up and moving it to another desk.
> People who buy PCs just don't understand quality. Only price.
He didn't care about price. He was willing to spend $1500, $2000, whatever it took to get a 17-inch laptop. Except, of course, that Apple cancelled the 17-inch MacBook Pro -- the one feature that might've won his purchase.
That's the nature of the new economy we live in. If it's not profitable, if millions of people don't want it, it's relegated to the back-channels and specialty web dealers. Companies just can't afford to release anything anymore without excellent product-market fit.
It used to be you could get Dell to build you anything you damned well pleased. I just went to the Dell website, and you can't even look at their laptops until you identify as a member of an organization. They don't sell to consumers anymore. You have to go to Best Buy.
If you want to know who's responsible for this shitty state of affairs, walk over to a mirror and take a good long look in it. Silly, unrealistic, demanding consumers who don't understand quality, only price, are turning the entire industry into shitty versions of Apple.
So I'm sorry, I have zero patience for asshole customers who think they're always right. It's good that your friend was willing to pay whatever it took to get his 17 inch screen. Most of these idiots don't. And they ruined PCs.
Ridiculous claim. Visit http://www.dell.com, click on "For Home" on the menu at the top, then in the menu click "laptops & ultrabooks".
That puts you on a page showing consumer laptops you can buy, right there, two clicks from the homepage. Or you can search/filter on ten different fields (including 17" screen size which finds a choice of 34 laptops).
The macbook air weighs ~1kg, has a 12 hour battery life, and has a nice aluminium body. Last time I looked, not only is it impossible to get a PC laptop like that for a comparable price, it is impossible to buy such a laptop from any PC manufacturer for any price.
Best money I ever spend
Today, unless you're doing heavy processing stuff, CPU speed DOES NOT MATTER. Memory does. I was perfectly happy with the CPU speed of the notebook I had before, the problem of course was memory size.
(I wouldn't buy a 17' notebook, you'll pay the price on back problems)
I can't stand using Windows and the Linux distributions nowadays take much of my time with BS like Gnome 3 and other bloated crap.
So, Mac OS.
We're not talking about a 100x price multiplier here, where clearly one's into the land of diminishing returns.
This kind of self-righteousness is just as faddish / cliquish as excessive fan-boy-ism.
In my view, Ballmer's mistake is to not go after Oracle and SAP much more than chasing Apple and Google.
Edit: Apple did acquire ping, but that was social music, which is a bit different. They also introduced siri, which simply plugged in to preexisting search services (Google in iOS 6, Bing in iOS7) so it really is agnostic on that front.
"Google are making baked beans? Why aren't we in the baked bean market? Let's make beans!"
"What? Now Facebook are making Facebook Soda? We need to make Microsoft Soda!"
Every time a tech company produces something new MS have to muscle in on the market, despite having a) no prior experience, b) no aptitude, c) existing products that could use their attention.
But I think Google is much more prone to jump in to a market with force, they just seem to execute "better" (I leave that open to interpretation).
FB comes out and MS buys in whereas Google makes their own social network. Apple makes the iPhone and Google makes Android. Only much later (as the ship has already left port) does Microsoft come in with Windows Phone (I'm only considering 7 & 8). Somewhat related, I feel like MS and Dell were on target with the Axim from a product idea standpoint but Apple really capitalized on combining the functionality of a phone and forward thinking hardware and software design with iOS devices.
This is an established enough business strategy there's a name for it: "fast follower." (See http://www.businessinsider.com/youre-better-off-being-a-fast...).
After that, yeah, a lot of following, then again for the GUI introduction era everyone was following Douglas Engelbart, and Xerox PARC for the graphical part.
Microsoft's failure was in hesitating to change with the market, not a failure to have products on the market.
Tablets, you can make a case for, as above, I guess, but again, the leap with the iPad was so great that it wasn't just an iteration but a leap, leaving it open for a fast follower to come on (as Google did there too).
Apple and Google didn't have Windows Mobile 6, 7, and 8 being planned and developed when iOS or Android were released. Microsoft did. It's slower to turn a ship around than it is to start one going in the right direction in the first place.
And besides faster processors and a slicker UI, what exactly puts Android in a different market than Windows Mobile? Serious question. Both allow you to develop, download, and install apps. Both are pocket computers with a cell phone built in, built on the same paradigm that Microsoft ushered in throughout the 90's (give users almost complete control, let OEMs do whatever they want on the hardware side). Windows Mobile has touchscreen support. Both can/could be gotten for very cheap or very expensive. Android seems to be, for all intents and purposes, a straight-line evolution of Windows Mobile with a Linux kernel (yet still closed-source where it really counts).
What supports my claim that the market was created by Apple and Google? You cannot exclude "faster processors and a slicker UI", as you put it - nor what they're a part of. It was a revolutionary change in user experience.
Your point about neither Google or Apple having involvement in the industry is a good one and it's not completely uncommon for stories of disruptive innovation - which this clearly is...
Which is not to say they can't execute a fast-follower play successfully anymore -- see XBox and Azure. Just that they don't nail it as thoroughly and consistently as they used to.
I find it hard to believe that someone who writes something this wrong can function in society.
Microsoft invented the tablet computer a decade before the iPad existed.
Their marketing may have sucked, but they were well ahead of the rest of the industry (and apparently the world).
Please, stay civil. :)
Anyway, I don't think the statement is wrong. Sure, Microsoft had tablet computers first, but I think it's also true that the Surface RT and Surface Pro were made in response to the iPad's success.
Are you referring to PixelSense?
The antecedents to the Metro design were in Zune HD and the Zune desktop client, among other things.
>Every time a tech company produces something new MS have to muscle in on the market, despite having a) no prior experience, b) no aptitude, c) existing products that could use their attention.
Similar to what Google is also trying to achieve with Google+, especially with muscling in part? Although I don't like their approach, I can't blame them for going with it. There is a huge untapped market in the social segment and they were right to put a footing on it.
Android was bought in.
I never thought of Siri as search. To me it was more about interfacing with your device.
Bing on the other hand, not so much.
Native speakers might not see a huge difference though.
Also MS was into search before Google was.
Yes, but at least for the past two years Jobs has had a really good excuse.
I mean, its not like MS didn't try the search thing, but search is something Google will own until they fuck it up, not from anyone entering to compete with them, because free & good enough are hard to break. Albeit, Google has been doing a good job fucking up their search in the last several years.
To me, Ballmer is symbolic of Microsoft-with-ADD. They ignore things until they become urgent, and then shovel money into the furnace until victory comes. Look at Windows Phone - microsoft had a mobile offering when iOS came on the scene, but took years to move on with WP7. Desktops languished on IE6 for far, far too long.
And Vista's long death-march process and lackluster result is another point.
There are a lot of people that would be OK with being dragged into upgrading if Windows 7 was an easily available option. Bu now, MS is pushing manufacturers into pre-installing 8, which is NOT a good transition path from XP as Windows 7 was.
Good thing I don't have to run that crap at home.
As do all successful people. If success were easy, everyone would be doing it.
For all the ways I disagree with Ballmer, this seems like a poor choice to point out.
Failures are acceptable if there is ultimate success, what is Ballmer's success? Retiring rich? (Most of which was accomplished on Gate's stewardship.)
Perhaps his name could become a unit for excess inventory. The "Ballmer", 500 cubic metres of unsold goods.
EDIT: or perhaps the name of a new airplane seat, "The Ballmer" the only chair to fly in!