Fire Steve Ballmer Now

With today’s news that Microsoft’s Vista could indeed slip further into next year, as I had promised would happen, there is only one rational response from Microsoft’s board: Fire Steve Ballmer. He has long been an erratic force inside the company — someone with real strengths, but also horrible deficiencies (among which is being utterly tonedeaf) — and it is finally clear that the latter permanently outweigh the former.

Of course, Ballmer had any decency he would simply resign. The odds of that happening, however, are very low.

[Update] As expected, Ballmer is now hedging the above comments, but it seems clear there is a lot of work to do in Vista Beta 2. I note that Goldman Sachs is saying this morning that their model reflects a two-month delay in general availability to early March.


  1. Now THAT’s a great TITLE for a BLOG POST! (Voice returns to normal.)

  2. I remember some interesting research of a while back identifying a third-ceo-problem. There are consistently low rates of return for public companies under their third ceo. The theory goes, the first ceo is of course the power visionary who tends to get out near the top, the second ceo grew up side-by-side and is generally able to extend the execution further, and maybe transitions out when the good-old-days are clearly gone. Which sets up the third guy for failure – a significantly different world, grown up under new conditions, and has to leave his stamp, but has institutional inertia from the first guys. The results are generally a disaster.
    So look out for the guy after Ballmer. And the guy after Kevin Rollins, and even the guy after that guy after Herb Kelleher.

  3. Who replaces him ? Gates? (shudder)
    Bring in the adult supervision and perhaps I will buy the stock . . .

  4. Jason Gurtz says:

    Just totaly doesn’t matter. Everyone could have told you that vist wasn’t going to come out on Jan. 1st what’s the difference in a few weeks? Most people get their OS preinstalled on a computer they buy (from dell) and could really care less about the new features.

  5. I agree, there needs to be some kind of visible and meaningful shakeup in Redmond. Sure, we knew Vista would be a while is coming, but since such a big deal was made of shipping on time and not doing the usual promise and slip … this is just the same stuff.
    I know shipping good software is tough. I know dev takes time. But you don’t publically announce ship dates until you’re really sure you can make them.

  6. Here’s Ballmer’s vision for the future of computing, from an interview you posted recently.
    “The devices will be more intelligent. Forget the fact that they will recognize my voice, but they’ll recognize my intent. That is, when I speak to my computer, it’ll recognize the words, but it’ll also take intelligent action. Instead of file, open, blah-blah-blah, I’ll say, “Get the documents I need for my trip to San Francisco.” You know, put them in a folder for me . . . That’d be great. And yet, if you think about it, the computer actually stores the data today about a lot of things and all it needs is a little bit more intelligence and the ability to “learn” and that’ll make it smarter.”
    So the future of technology is a computer you can talk to. And the future of the auto industry is flying cars.

  7. tom barta says:

    MSFT has jumped the shark. This is only PARTLY Ballmer’s fault, though he is clearly an idiot. The world is going UNIX and Open Standards; MSFT is neither.
    Love the comment about flying cars…..:)