Letters to Redmond

April Reader Letters: Change for the Better?

Readers weigh in on our Microsoft executive exodus story.

Our March cover story, "'Execudus' in Redmond," by Executive Editor of Features Lee Pender, generated a flurry of comments, with readers debating whether the recent departure of many top Microsoft executives will hurt or help the company. Here are some of the responses.

I believe Microsoft is only getting stronger with these exits. Change is welcome, as it's the only way to find a new breakthrough! Most of these guys ran their course. On Kevin Turner, I'm glad he came to Microsoft, as he brought a level of operating discipline that was really lacking and most people respect him. But no one should be confused -- Ballmer is in charge!

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These executives probably contributed less than most people assume in the grand scheme of things. I believe that people like Anders Hejlsberg, Scott Guthrie, Phil Haack and all the other (not so public) figures in the product teams are the ones that really make the company so successful.

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Or Change for the Worse?
I'm tired of the "rock star" status that executives get at big companies these days. To think there's only one -- or only a small set -- of people who can do a job well enough at that level of management is the sort of flawed thinking that drives CEOs to think they're worth 10,000 times as much as the "common" employee. But there's no evidence in this case. Microsoft has survived (and flourished) without Bill Gates. It will continue to do so without these eight departed execs. It may come as a shock to the media that there are more than a dozen people in the world with the talents required for those positions, but not to me.

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Did you notice it's easier to oust a Middle Eastern dictator than to get rid of Ballmer? Ballmer is destroying the company. Microsoft is years behind. It's running on the past and, sadly, even the updated old stuff like Windows 7 and Office 2010 is only a tiny bit better than the old versions. The company can't even get word processing right after 20-plus years of trying.

Gates is not much better than Ballmer. The board needs to get Ballmer out -- about three years ago. They're asleep at the switch. It's almost criminal negligence. Those apologizing for Ballmer don't understand how far behind Microsoft is, and Ballmer's role in that. Do we need a shareholders revolt to get rid of Ballmer and the lame board?

Kirkland, Wash.

"In fact, [Microsoft is] as strong as ever, particularly in the enterprise." If Pender means this in the sense that customers shouldn't be worried about not getting the next update, then I agree. But if he means competitively, then I don't. Not with Macs, iPhones, iPads, Google Apps, Android phones and, soon, Android tablets all flooding into enterprises.

There's been a pickup since the recession, but otherwise Microsoft's growth has steadily slowed over the decade.

Some of the executive changes Pender lists are definitely cases of replacing weak performers with stronger ones. But I can't agree that the company is getting stronger. The damage in many cases is done. Ballmer being fully in charge should be a very scary thought to anyone who has watched his endless series of missteps over the last decade.

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About the Author

This page is compiled by the editors of Redmond magazine from your letters. Write to us at [email protected] and if your letter is printed in the magazine, you'll be entered into a drawing for a free Redmond T-shirt.


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