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Comparing Ballmer to Bush: Why Fortune Got It Wrong

Fortune magazine is one of the most prestigious magazines in the world. I was lucky enough to intern there as a college senior -- an experience that made me really want to be a journalist.

So I was more than a bit surprised to read an article that compared Steve Ballmer's failures to those of George W. Bush. The column used the recent Microsoft annual employee meeting as a launch point. It regurgitated rumors, still unsubstantiated, that employees fled Ballmer's speech like fans in the last quarter of a Kansas City Chiefs home game.

The three-named author Philip Elmer-DeWitt said, "Steve Ballmer has done to Microsoft what George W. Bush did to the United States from 2000-2008 -- run things straight into the ground."

I'm not going to say what I think of George W. If I am too kind, the Bush haters will hate me. Too rough and supporters will rough me up.

Does Dewitt think all his readers agree with his Bush assessment or does he just not care? I, unlike De(half)witt, am unwilling to alienate as much as half my readers by getting overly political.

I also think he is wrong about Ballmer. Yesterday I had a fine seafood lunch with a storage networking exec. My guest made an off-hand remark about Microsoft's current malaise and Ballmer's failures.

I pointed out that Microsoft is held to a crazy high standard. Does Microsoft have Facebook? No, but Facebook only has Facebook -- and nothing else.

Does Microsoft have an iPhone, iPad or iPod? No, but does Apple have Windows Server, Lync, Visual Studio or the Xbox? Course not.

If Microsoft doesn't win each and every battle, or invent each and every cool new thing, it is a failure. Heck, even the New England Patriots lose a game every now and again.

Who's right, me or Dumbwitt? Cast your vote at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on 10/01/2011 at 1:18 PM


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