Ballmer Isn't Microsoft's Problem--Lack of Tech Vision Is

by Sam Dean - Jul. 01, 2011Comments (2)

Has Microsoft stalled as a technology leader? The answer to that question draws widely varying respones, but the answer also has tremendous bearing on what kinds of opportunities for success there will be for companies such as Apple, and for open source. Microsoft defenders point to the fact that the company still has Windows and its applications on nine out of 10 business desktops, while critics point to the fact that Microsoft doesn't seem to innovate anymore. The company's CEO, Steve Ballmer, has admitted to dropping the ball on important trends such as the rise of smartphones, and there have been some recent calls for his resignation. The truth is, though, that Ballmer isn't Microsoft's weak point. What the company lacks is a visionary technologist.

As The Register reports, Steve Ballmer delivered a forceful response to his critics this week, saying:

"You tell me if I lack energy, conviction or we're not driving change we need to drive."

Ballmer actually doesn't lack energy or conviction, nor is he missing the business savvy to run a large technology company like Microsoft. His business background began at Harvard, and he was there for the whole early rise of Microsoft. Many of his critics are Microsoft investors, lamenting the company's lackluster stock performance. But what Microsoft really lacks is a visionary technology leader.

This collection of posts argues that what Microsoft really needs is a new Bill Gates.  Gates was indeed a savvy technologist. He was very early to perceive that the key to ensuring Windows' success was to win over the maximum number of application developers, and he drove his own developers to build moats around the company's Office applications.

Microsoft had another technology leader in Ray Ozzie, but he didn't even stay at the company all that long.  Now, Apple's operating system and Linux are both making inroads against Windows--albeit incremental ones. Likewise, Google Apps and free, open source applications are challenging Microsoft Office's hegemony.

The fact is, Ballmer is a savvy business leader but Microsoft's problem is stalled technology vision. Those calling for Ballmer's exit are missing this fact, and, at its size, Microsoft won't be able to grow as a company without an overhaul of its ability to innovate with technology. In the meantime, several doors are open for Apple and the open source movement.

Abhijit Prabhudan uses OStatic to support Open Source, ask and answer questions and stay informed. What about you?


Steve Ballmer is offended that people don't think that he is the greatest thing ever.

He is going to save the company damn it!!! even it it means the destruction of the whole thing!!!

He is way to egotistical, arrogant and self centered to step aside.

Even if they fire him they would still probably have to have him psychically restrained and removed from the property by force.

That is just the kind of personality he has.

I say let him stay and go down with the ship. The world doesn't need or want big gigantic companies like Microsoft anymore. and when Steve Ballmer goes down with it that will be his legacy.

Go to Youtube and look up "USS Enterprise D Crash" that is Microsoft.

It starts off slow and gradually picks up speed on the way down.

When Microsoft finally falls it will be the end of an era.

The Dirty Bloted Captilist Robber Baron Era. and good riddance too.

They have their hand in every pocket and wave money under every politicians nose.

And their demise will stand as a warning to every other gigantic corporation not to act the same way.

The World can get along just fine without Microsoft and/or Steve Ballmer.

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As you can tell from the postponed release date of Vista the OS wasnt ready to be released yet but was forced to be published (probably to meet a quota) The developers even admitted that it is a disaster. They have bit off more than they could chew.

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