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Battling Ballmer

There's one thing I know about New England: Once a year Winter comes, and all my excess cash goes to the plow guy so he can pay for his brand new F350!

Something else seems to happen annually -- pundits question Steve Ballmer's leadership. It happens every time there is some hot invention that Microsoft didn't invent.

Linux is gonna kill Windows, the Zune stinks, Microsoft has no iPad, Google is the final straw, blah blah blah.

This time pundits point to opportunities lost, which is not entirely unfair, just mostly. But the latest wave is truly odd. Ballmer recently released Bob Muglia, who ran (and will still run it 'til the summer) the Server and Tools division, which includes Visual Studio, all the major server products and Azure.

Somehow the fact that Ballmer thinks he can do better is evidence that Ballmer's job ain't going to be around for long.

So how are we to judge Microsoft and Mr. Ballmer? They set earning records after earning records and have succeeded in a ton of new businesses: ERP, Xbox, security. In that regard, the pairing is a monster success.

On the other hand, innovation seems to be coming from elsewhere. But instead of being clobbered by a single company, Redmond is getting beating up by a veritable mob: Google, Apple, FaceBook, Oracle, the list goes on. Is it fair to expect one company to outpace the entire industry? Is IBM faulted for not inventing the iPhone?

Am I too kind to the Redmond giant, or are the critics too mean? You tell me at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on 01/21/2011 at 1:18 PM


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