Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to Step Down

| News

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is ready to retire and plans to be out of his executive office within the next 12 months. Mr. Ballmer took over as CEO when company founder Bill Gates stepped down, and now he says Microsoft needs a new CEO on board as the company transitions into a devices and services business.

Microsoft CEO is ready to turn in his executive washroom keyMicrosoft CEO is ready to turn in his executive washroom key

Mr. Ballmer said in a statement,

There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time. We have embarked on a new strategy with a new organization and we have an amazing Senior Leadership Team. My original thoughts on timing would have had my retirement happen in the middle of our company's transformation to a devices and services company. We need a CEO who will be here longer term for this new direction.

Microsoft is still the big name in operating systems with its various versions of Windows, and its Office suite is the defacto standard for wordprocessing and spreadsheets in the workplace. Even with those big successes under its belt, Microsoft's leadership has decided to transition into a company that builds its own devices and offers services to support those products.

Mr. Ballmer is staying on until his successor is found. The company's board of directors has formed a committee to start the hunt, and Mr. Gates said he's part of that team.

Microsoft has been criticized for the Ballmer leadership over the past few years over concerns that the company hasn't been able to successfully launch new products. Major Windows updates have received lackluster responses, the Surface tablet is suffering from weak sales, and even the new Xbox -- the reigning king in the home gaming system market -- suffered from negative press.

News that Mr. Ballmer is retiring seems to have pleased investors, too. The company's stock started climbing Friday morning after the announcement was made jumping over 7 percent to US$34.70 after closing Thursday night at $32.39.

If investor sentiment is any indicator, Mr. Ballmer's retirement is the best announcement Microsoft has made in a long time.

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Steve Ballmer announces his retirement, and Microsoft's stock starts climbing. The idea that he needed to leave has been there for some time, and if the company's stock price is any indication, investors are practically dancing in the streets. Assuming Microsoft finds a leader that can bring a new philosophy to the company and stop the long time corporate culture that promotes fighting between division, other tech companies -- including Apple -- will see some serious competition.


Lee Dronick

Well, this is very interesting news.


Steve is well past his use-by date.

It is clear that he did not retire - he was booted. If you’re retiring then you typically have a successor ready to take over. Maybe you even get to pick who. But Steve eliminated any challengers for his spot so now MS has to go hunting for a replacement.

My take is that the Board had finally had enough.


News that Mr. Ballmer is retiring seems to have pleased investors, too. The company’s stock started climbing Friday morning after the announcement was made jumping over 7 percent to US$34.70 after closing Thursday night at $32.39.

Of course they were. He’s been a disaster for the company. His corporate philosophy of letting projects and departments compete in the hope that the best will rise to the top has lead the the failure of several, such as the Zune, the early cancellation of the Kin, the disaster of Windows Vista, the current disaster that is Windows 8, and the near irrelevance of Microsoft in portable space. It favors the loud and pushy leaders over quality projects and results in a fragmented environment where products from different divisions have trouble integrating with each other. His insistence that what people want is a PC experience on their phone and tablet is just simply wrong and has been a disaster for the company. His push for updates for the sake of change even when what is out is working, Office Ribbon, Metro interface on Windows 8, has caused many customers to both not upgrade, a survey of users earlier this year found nearly 40% of Windows users were still on XP, and to seriously look at alternatives. Microsoft was caught completely flat footed by the iOS and later Android devices and his answer, the Surface is badly implemented, poorly advertized, and has been a huge loss for the company. Surface alone accounted for a $900 million write off they announced last month on sales of $800 million. Lastly he’s allowed quality oversights to damage the reputation of a number of products. Remember the XBox 360 red ring of death? I’ve personally found Office 365 to be unstable and unreliable. Then there’s the simple bonehead moves, such as allowing a culture that assumed that draconian DRM measures on the XBox One would be no problem.

No, investors, IT techs such as myself, anyone with an interest in the computing world is welcoming Ballmer’s retirement. Good riddance to bad rubbish.


Apple was doomed after Steve was gone, now MS is doomed after Steve leaves!


The company’s board of directors has formed a committee to start the hunt,

Oh yeah, because that’s been working so well for them.


Interesting is the story then
To tell if the reign of error do end.
So Steve, to a retirement home,
And there to chew upon a bone.

MS when he bids adieu,
Fifty-fifty say renew.

Lee Dronick

Good one Mike!


At this point, who could fix MS?  And why would anyone want to try?

MS is like GM, where you have problems so entrenched that not even a bankruptcy could fix them.  But GM has good business in China, and MS has good business in licensing, so the show goes on….


Lee, there is but ye and me
In fair tech, poetry do agree.
The rest be such a sorry wreck,
To spurn the rhyme upon their deck.
What speak in tongues
So fast their feet and minds do run.

O, to time travel that we might fly,
To help Brave Shakespeare, his trade apply.
And there receive such accolade,
Humbly so, our Will doth lead.

Now I must rest.

John Dingler, artist

Is it Ballmer’s fault that his MS is no longer able to wield predatory powers in one area to achieve success in areas in which it has no monopoly?

Lee Dronick

Mike I am humbled by your word smithing.

John i don’t think that it is so much that MicroSoft is no longer a monopoly as is that they haven’t come out with a popular new product.

Paul Goodwin

Assuming that there is still a talented workforce in place there, and assuming they can find a great leader with vision, a talent and plan for implementing that vision, and a gift for enamoring investors, it will still be years before that vision produces a significant impact. That kind of leader is very rare. Decades can go by without companies finding one. I personally hope they find a good one. It would help Apple push even harder toward excellence.


Microsoft is the Robert Patrick terminator at the end of Terminator 2 after he falls into the vat of molten metal. Desperately trying every configuration it can think of hoping to find the one that will keep it from melting.



Very nice analogy, except that, I would argue, MS created the vat, poured in the the molten metal, then leapt into it.

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