Published On: Fri, May 10th, 2013

Windows 8 – A defining moment in Steve Ballmer’s thirty-three year career at Microsoft

When Ballmer was stepping into the massive size shoes of the software giant’s founder Bill Gates in 2009, he knew he was taking on a massive task. However despite some considerable successes during the early years of his tenure as CEO of Microsoft, the company seems to be in a bit of a quagmire in a rapidly changing market, with fingers of blame being increasingly pointed in his direction.

Steve Ballmer / Getty

Steve Ballmer / Getty

/ By Stanley Green / 

With a personal fortune now sitting around twelve billion dollar mark, you would think that Steve Ballmer would not feel in any way threatened by the lackluster success of Microsoft’s latest operating system, Windows Eight. Now that this isn’t the first time that Microsoft has failed to set the heather on fire with an operating system, with their Windows Vista being a major bomb. However what was important about Windows 8 was that it was supposed to bridge Microsoft’s gap between the desktop and laptop computer from which they gained their fame and fabulous fortune to the mobile touchscreen world where the focus of modern telecommunications lies today.

With a discernible drop in demand for laptops and desktops having an effect, albeit a minor one to date on Microsoft’s profitability, despite making some very heavy investments, the company is beginning to be increasingly regarded as lagging behind the times, having failed to convince the world that their recently introduced Surface tablet was a reasonable alternative to the best that Apple or Samsung could offer.

Although Microsoft shares are holding their own, the investment community and now becoming increasingly more convinced that for Microsoft to move for Steve Ballmer will need to relinquish his role as CEO and take more of a back seat in the company which he joined in 1980 as their thirty-third employee and has undoubtedly played a major part of its remarkable growth to an international software super power with an annual turnover for the fiscal year of 2012 of $73.72 billion with profits of $21.76 billion, the best year in the trading history.

So why should Ballmer be in the bad books of dissatisfied shareholders with such levels of profit? Because those in the know are afraid of the fact that the best years of Microsoft are possibly behind them, and they are not succeeding in keeping pace with rapid developments in the communications industry, with some of the efforts and acquisitions being both costly and ineffective.

Now the question that looms large over Steve Ballmer’s famous bald palate is one of the eagerly anticipated revamped version of Windows 8 have the necessary piece of magic that just a wave of Microsoft’s magic wand consumers will begin to believe again the infallibility of Microsoft’s products and the markets will not be so nervous about holding their shares.

Ballmer, more of a salesman and extrovert than his predecessor Bill Gates was never prepared to openly concede that Microsoft Windows 8 had any kind of fault in its design makeup, even when the cryptic comments were flowing in that the software been the subject of the of the vicious feedback regarding its capability to cause severe confusion goes to those who replaced some of the previous versions of Windows including the exceptionally popular and user-friendly XP version, and even Windows Seven which was also far from being a technological dud,

Particular problems experienced by Windows 8 users were with its radical touchscreen functions that were soon found to be not particularly compatible with desktop computers and the phasing out of the traditional start button, which is a form of beacon for traditional PC users.

Hopefully with the first major update to Windows 8, due to be released under the Codename of Windows Blue, Ballmer and Microsoft will have learned their lessons, being more attentive to their client feedback and come up with an operating system that will be more in keeping with what their clients want and not what Microsoft are convinced that they need.

For the time being according to the most recent statistics the number of computers worldwide using Windows 8 since have less than 4% of the market , 3 with Windows 7 being top at 45%, with the ever reliable XP operating system, released  almost 12 years ago still commanding 38% of the market.

In the meantime Microsoft remained tight lipped on the changes they intend to make our own Windows Blue, due to hit the markets in June. Until it does the journey will remain out on Steve Ballmer and whether the latest Windows fiasco is a symptom or the cause of the collapse in demand for laptop and desktop computers.

Steve Ballmer joined Microsoft on June 11, 1980, on a low starting salary of $50, 000 as he had the good sense and vision to accept Gates’ offer to receive  shares in the fledgling company in lieu of salary. That turned out to be a very good deal for Ballmer who ended up owning eight percent of the company. Ballmer sold a large share of his shareholdings for an undisclosed sum, leaving him with a 4% stake in the company.

Ballmer was never regarded by too many people as Bill Gates natural successor, as his leaning was always towards sales and marketing, acting as Executive Vice President of Sales and Support from 1992 to 1998, till he was appointed President and eventually Chief Executive Officer with special responsibility for the company’s finances, to the Gates remaining chairman of the board and chief software architect. That situation remained till Gates stepped down as chief software architect in 2006, while staying on as chairman, a post that he eventually relinquished in 2009, leaving Steve Ballmer resigned from day-to-day management to concentrate on his charitable activities

Under Ballmer’s tenure as CEO, Microsoft’s annual revenue dramatically from $25 billion in 2009 to $75 billion in 2013, while its net profit rose 215 percent to $23 billion, with Ballmer making considerable efforts to lead the company away from what he considered as “the company’s PC-first heritage”.

 

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