If Only Steve Jobs Were Alive To Witness The Final Destruction Of Microsoft

by Brian S Hall   |   August 23rd, 2013

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, is officially out — sometime in the next 12 months. Another victim of Steve Jobs and the iPhone.

Blame that crazy, rebellious vision of Jobs which somehow changed the world, rendering Microsoft and the once impervious Windows as nothing more than fat, dumb, slow-moving dinosaurs.

msft vs aapl

Note the radical shift in value for Apple ($AAPL) from the very day the iPhone was first released (29 June 2007). Note Microsoft, standing still. Microsoft stayed big as the new world favored the small, the fast — the mobile.

Ballmer, for all the good he did for Microsoft — and anyone who says differently is either too young to be taken seriously, or too foolish to be tolerated — made the singular critical strategic mistake that has befallen so many of his ilk: a belief that the past is prologue.

Whereas Steve Jobs sought to destroy everything in his past, to remake the world, Ballmer sought to bring more and more of the past into the future. Ballmer’s way was right, for nearly a generation. Then it was completely wrong.

From the early days, when Microsoft became the Bill Gates – Steve Ballmer show, the men and the company were stunningly rewarded for pivoting from a software application company to a computer gateway troll. With Ballmer as the giddy lead tackle, Microsoft singularly changed computing: a computer was placed on every desktop and every computer required Windows to function.

There was no alternative. None. Every competing company was killed off. Excepting, Apple, which lay on the ground, bloodied, beaten and nearly dead.

As Steve Jobs remade himself, so too he soon remade Apple. Jobs understood immediately: to survive against Microsoft, there was only one way: to alter the very definition of “computer”.

As Ballmer clung to the strategy that had so richly rewarded Microsoft, building gateway upon gateway, attempting to create a “standard” for PCs, for gaming, for businesses large and small, for the Internet itself, Apple — under Jobs — took an alternate path: highly personal, highly mobile computers, with no keyboard, no mouse, and a relatively non-existent operating system.

A generation from now, perhaps Tim Cook will be forced to leave Apple, having missed some massive tectonic shift, just as Ballmer did.

Handicapping the Next Microsoft CEO

Steve Ballmer made many people very rich, few more so than himself. His future is secure. Microsoft’s much less so. A decision looms large for the company’s board: who will be the next CEO?

I caused quite a stir back in 2011 when I predicted the death of both Windows and Office by 2016. Time will prove me right. Nevertheless, right or wrong in my prediction, I believe that the next CEO of Microsoft must radically re-make the company. This will not be an easy task. As we learned once more with Ballmer, it is extremely hard for any CEO at any company to not focus on those areas that are raining down cash.

The new CEO must, however. Windows and Office have a limited future, no matter the profits they are bringing in today.

I believe the next CEO of Microsoft will be Stephen Elop, the current CEO of Nokia. Nokia is mobile and global, exactly what Microsoft needs.

What about you? Vote — and leave your comments below.

Brian S Hall

Brian S Hall writes about technology and change. His work has appeared in Techpinions, ReadWrite, the Wall Street Journal, LinkedIn, The Push, CIO and Business Insider. His latest novel, "Love in the Time of Caller ID" is available from Amazon and on iBooks.
  • FalKirk

    “I caused quite a stir back in 2011 when I predicted the death of both Windows and Office by 2016. Time will prove me right.”

    I don’t know about “death” in 2016, but I’m willing to go with “irrelevant.”

    • http://www.brianshall.com/ Brian S Hall

      Yes. I said “dead” then and say it now, though only partly for effect. By 2016, I think there will be machines with Windows and with Office. Almost no one will use them. Those that do will rarely use them. A few will use them quite regularly and never upgrade, merely patch as necessary.

    • peter

      I’m not sure about dead or irrelevant. Microsoft Office is a fixture in modern office life, I don’t see it going away any time soon but the ability to charge monopoly prices will wither quickly.

      The way to manage Microsoft would be to milk the existing business for profits and stop plowing back the proceeds in all sorts of half-hearted hit-and-miss future oriented projects (Zune, kin, bing, mobile, etc.). Microsoft shareholders who wish to invest in mobile are much better of taking their dividends and investing it in Apple/Google/Samsung.

      • jfutral

        “Microsoft Office is a fixture in modern office life”

        Maybe. The only thing Office offers that is still untouched by most of the competition is Excel, and that primarily for financial budgeting, analysis, and forecasting reasons. Beyond that there is very little reason to buy/use Office except out of habit.

        Joe

        • steve_wildstrom

          Joe, I think you underestimate the importance of both word and PowerPoint in business. Their use is deeply ingrained in business workflows and they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Word, in particular, is well designed for the sort of hierarchical, serial collaboration that is common in the enterprise, while Google Docs is great for a flatter, horizontal collaborative style. And what’s the alternative to PowerPoint (other than getting people to stop using slides)? Keynote is OK, but only for Macs. And corporate types are not abut to start using LaTeX and Beamer.

          • jfutral

            “I think you underestimate the importance of both word and PowerPoint in business.”

            That’s not only possible but likely. I only have my familial circle focus group (engineering, tech writing, applied mathematics, bank IT, software, and law industries) and personal experience to get any kind of picture of the enterprise. I was most surprised to learn the few tech writing departments I know of have moved from MS Office to Open Office. They only revert to Word for the final process because their Help system has Word support built in. That is a change just waiting to happen. Lawyers sticking with Word was not a surprise.

            From my own experience as tech support for corporate and special events, I am surprised at how much Keynote presentations come up these days compared to even 5 years ago. Even had a Google Presentation come across the other day. Ten years ago, I only ever saw Powerpoint. Twenty+ years ago it was usually proprietary presentations fabricated by the corporate event producer.

            I think both of those demonstrate to me a very real erosion to the bulk of Office which leads me to concur with the projected death of Office, maybe not as soon as 2016, but soon thereafter.

            But even in my lackadaisically rudimentary use of Office apps, Excel has had basic features I can’t find in Numbers or Google Spreadsheet. And I hardly use spreadsheets at all. I hate them. My mind just can’t think like a spreadsheet. I can think like a database, but not a spreadsheet.

            So from my small, irrelevant sampling, the only clear contender for sustained relevance I can come up with is Excel.

            You, of course, have far more and diverse samplings and experience to draw far more realistic conclusions.

            I, however, could easily and likely be wrong,
            Joe

          • steve_wildstrom

            We also tend to underestimate the persistence of things. I was at a mathematics conference earlier this month where, for the first time, all of the overhead projectors had been replaced with computer projectors and those still using acetate slides had to convert them. That only took about 20 years.

          • FalKirk

            “We also tend to underestimate the persistence of things.” – steve_wildstrom

            True. But look at what happened to Microsoft from 2007 to 2013 – from 95% market share to 25% of internet connected devices. And Microsoft is nowhere in mobile and desktop and notebook decline is accelerating. Microsoft is racing towards a cliff.

          • peter

            True, but if you look at Microsoft’s market share in desktop/laptop operating systems and office suites, they have not lost much in that market. I can see Microsoft as operating a valuable legacy business (much like IBM did). Then again two more Windows 8s or new ribbon interfaces in Office, and that persistence will disappear in a flash.

          • FalKirk

            “I can see Microsoft as operating a valuable legacy business” – peter

            People used Windows because it was a monopoly. Without that monopoly, the tide will turn against Microsoft. People don’t want their phones and tablets to be compatible with their PCs. They want their PCs to be compatible with their phones and tablets. Big, big difference.

          • jfutral

            “They want their PCs to be compatible with their phones and tablets.”

            You really think so? I’ve been trying to figure this one out even on a personal level. I don’t lament that an app runs on one but not the other (except for games, I’d really like to continue a game on my iPad that I was playing on my PC or vice versa). I can’t put my finger on it, but you are probably right.

            Joe

          • FalKirk

            “They want their PCs to be compatible with their phones and tablets.”

            Probably a better sound bite than sound analysis. What I’m really saying is that phones and tablets will be the go to device. No one is going to worry about “windows compatibility” anymore. They want their PCs to work with the internet and all their other device, not the other way around.

          • AdamChew

            I think the mobile platform is getting there, their ARM chips are getting more powerful and perhaps a few generations more they will be comparable to intel chips.

            Who knows there may be a Rosetta in Apple ARM chips to run desktop applications.

          • peter

            Mobile is not a direct replacement of desktop (same as desktop did not fully replace mainframe), therefore I can see the desktop technology continue of a long time. Also, remember that Windows is a platform on which many other companies have build their own offerings; it will take considerable time for those other products to migrate to different platform.

            With permanent shrinkage in volume, it will need special management (minimise cost and maintain compatibility) but it could be a large and profitable for a long time. However, Microsoft is only just getting used to a world in which it does not have monopoly power (surely a rude awakening).

          • steve_wildstrom

            My point is a different one: The core market that sustains Microsoft is not going away quickly. It has lost share in the overall device market because of the explosion of mobile devices in which it has barely participated. But in absolute terms, its corporate Windows/Office market will remain huge for some time to come and will provide the money needed to finance the transition. The big question remains “to what?”

          • jfutral

            The big question before that, though, will it be soon enough? Lotus and WordPerfect relied on the persistence of things too long and could not come back from it. Could someone or something beat MS to the punch… again?

            Joe

          • steve_wildstrom

            This triggered an interesting thought about what is really doing Microsoft in. Throughout its history, the company has been incredibly lucky in the incompetence of its competitors. WordPerfect lost the future of text creation because it thought DOS would remain dominant. Lotus (before it was bought by IBM) made a bizarre bet on OS/2. AOL wrecked Netscape. Novell failed to see that LANs were moving beyond local file sharing.

            In Apple (reborn in the 2000s) and Google, Microsoft finally ran into competitors that were smart, tough, and nimble. And that happened at a time with Microsoft had lost its own edge and fierceness.

          • jfutral

            “the company has been incredibly lucky in the incompetence of its competitors.”

            I should be so lucky. I fear, however, my own incompetence continues to do me in.

            Joe

          • FalKirk

            “its corporate Windows/Office market will remain huge for some time to come and will provide the money needed to finance the transition” – Steve Wildstrom

            I agree that Microsoft is unusual in that they have money. Blackberry is failing and they’re running out of money. Microsoft can afford to go in a whole new direction. As you said, the question now is will they spend that money wisely and will they make the right choices going forward.

          • Robbie Rob

            Not really.. in 2007 they sold a lot less phones and a lot less consoles and games. The Xbox 360 not only outsold the 1st Xbox by 4 to 1.. it was very profitable. MS has wisely expanded into other things. Also a lot of companies like healthcare where I work will use MS Office for a long time.

            What I find funny though is Americans who put down their own businesses. When all the jobs leave US companies.. the USA is done. It’s already looking bad for the US.. and yet we have those who will utterly be cheering on their own destruction. The US is becoming nothing but a bunch of welfare taking consumers.

          • FalKirk

            “What I find funny though is Americans who put down their own businesses” – Robbie Rob

            I’m not on the side of any one company. I try to be on the side of reality. It’s the only side worth being on.

          • Robbie Rob

            The side of reality if we as a nation have more often today helped foreign companies succeed to save a few bucks. Cars, electronics, whatever.

            30 years ago imports (that are now cheap today ) back then – cost more much then American products. Because of the decline of the American Dollar, Economy and American way of Life .. more and more have jumped on the bus to ‘save’ without understanding they are adding to the ultimate decline of this country and their own lives. Of course it’s worse now because the option to buy American is shrinking and less American companies sell things to the world and America imports more. I think what it will take it when everyone looks around and sees all the great American companies completely wiped out or mere shells of what they once were and the likely collapse of the petro dollar system. The fact is this country and has become a nation of consumers and not producers. The consuming can only last so long when you do not produce. I’m hoping these few greats left can turn it around to an extent. The govt tried reviving Detroit and the long term results of that experiment aren’t fully seen yet.

          • jfutral

            I like this. However, it’s one thing for persistence to exist in certain areas of users. (Criminy, I hope this wasn’t at Georgia Tech. My daughter would be very embarrassed and it would be contrary to everything they try to project). It’s downright fatal for a technology company to rely on the persistence of things:

            http://www.vanityfair.com/online/daily/2012/07/microsoft-downfall-emails-steve-ballmer

            “The main purpose of AIM wasn’t to chat, but to give you the chance to log in at any time and check out what your friends were doing.” When he pointed out to his boss that Messenger lacked a short-message feature, the older man dismissed his concerns; he couldn’t see why young people would care about putting up a few words. “He didn’t get it,” the developer says. “And because he didn’t know or didn’t believe how young people were using messenger programs, we didn’t do anything.”

            Of course MS suffers from their consumers’ persistence to stick with WindowsXP.

            So it isn’t that MSWord and Powerpoint is all that. It is that old habits (the persistence of things) are hard to break, especially when there really is no “need”. You may see that overhead projector come back around 2016, if Brian is right.

            Joe

          • Shameer Mulji

            Keynote can do anything PowerPoint can do and then some. I agree with the previous poster, Excel is the only real advantage MS Office has over other Office suites.

  • Defendor

    I can’t even hazard a guess at this point. I think the board should be interviewing potentials and listening to their vision/concrete actions they would take with Microsoft. This is definitely one of the premier tech posts in the world, so there should be plenty of ambitious suitors.

    I just hope they aren’t dumb enough to hire Carly Fiorina. ;)

    • http://www.brianshall.com/ Brian S Hall

      Ha. Carly!
      I crafted the poll with choices I think are best to run “Microsoft”. Thing is, I’m not sure how vested the board is in preserving Microsoft as is, selling off bits and pieces, spinning off massive chunks. That’s the X factor.

  • PlzPlzPlzMakeItSo

    Yes, because Elop has been so good to Nokia, leading them from 1st place in mobile sales to below 10th since his arrival there. Please, make it so.

    MS will be dead within 6 months if that happens.

    • http://www.brianshall.com/ Brian S Hall

      What has HTC done in smartphones? Microsoft? Blackberry? Sony? Panasonic? LG? Stephen Elop took over a company that was certain to die. It is still alive. That result should not be underestimated.

      • PlzPlzPlzMakeItSo

        Oh please, don’t muddle the issue with other companies poor performance.

        As soon as the Burning Platform was announced Nokia began sucking at the tit of Microsoft and has been losing share ever since. Well, except in those hot smartphone markets like Latvia or someplaces like it. Can never keep those places straight. Marketshare was approximately 39% then and fell to 3% in just 3 years, with the subsequent loss in market value as well. Way to go Elop.

        Nokia was hurting, no doubt about that, but it had some technologies that may, I say may, have helped it more than Win7/8 Phone ever could, without being totally dependent upon MS, but we’ll never know. Instead, they sold off their own tech, adopted the already failed MS tech and then proceeded to alienate everyone in the market who might have continued to buy Nokia by releasing MS-crap phones, destroy their sales channel, and piss off nearly every operator with their newly acquired MS arrogance.

        Some times you do make some sense, but suggesting Elop is not one of them unless you really want MS to fail. Oh wait, I get it. Sorry, I’ll shut up now that I see your plan.

        • http://www.brianshall.com/ Brian S Hall

          The fascinating thing about Stephen Elop, I think, is that we can both make our cases and be exactly right.

          • Christian

            I can hardly see how could one make the case for S. Elop now that he acknowledged a couple of week ago that he chose Windows Phone just because he did not want to pick the fight against Samsung. That is awfully lame.

            Samsung certainly had an edge in manufacturing, including a precise view on the steep ramp up that Apple was planing. But they did not have, and still do not have, their own software stack not to mention services.

            Nokia had a working store (Ovi); A very good, if not the best, mapping service (Nokia Maps); And a technical roadmap to migrate their Symbian legacy (Qt). Their Maemo was only 12-18 months late compared to Android. They could have just sold Android for a couple of years the time to have Mameo up to speed, and then say good bye to Google.

            But the worst part of S. Elop’s legacy, is not that he chose WP, it is that he accepted to (1) hand over the key assets for mobile that were Ovi and Nokia Maps to MS, and (2) to kill off any Linux-based alternative. This is high treason, plain and simple.

    • Defendor

      I do see Elop on the short list. He has shown the balls to take on big challenges. He knows Microsoft and he is running a Mobile company.

      But I am unsure what else he brings to the table in terms of leadership/vision.

  • JT

    Nice of TP to forego its usual mandate of distanced analysis to opportunistically barnacle itself on a hot current news item.

    • http://www.brianshall.com/ Brian S Hall

      Man, everyone’s a hater.
      Techpinions is known for its analysis. I thought the resignation of Ballmer, however, is important enough on its own and deserved the rapid response.

    • benbajarin

      Timely perspective and analysis on certain news items has always been a goal. As I stated on Twitter today: we don’t break the need we just offer perspective on it. Read Tim’s article also.

      Not all news items are worth the time to analyze but some are and when those happens we will take time to put a more rapid analysis or quick take on the subjects tree both public ally and more deep stuff for insiders.

      • steve_wildstrom

        As I said in my audio commentary, the departure of Ballmer was a “surprise but not surprising.” The fact that the handwriting has been on the wall for a long time means that we have all been thinking about it and that the instant analysis wasn’t really very instant.

    • FalKirk

      “Nice of TP to forego its usual mandate of distanced analysis to opportunistically barnacle itself on a hot current news item.” – JT

      I think your criticism is off base (and a little off putting). But if it makes you feel any better, I’ll probably be writing about Ballmer in my column next Thursday. Will that be distance enough? :)

  • Scott Sterling

    The correct answer to your poll is, of course, Al Gore.

    • FalKirk

      Ha! You genuinely surprised me and made me laugh out loud. :)

      • http://www.brianshall.com/ Brian S Hall

        I don’t get it.

        • FalKirk

          Oh my gosh, are you guys serious about Al Gore?

  • FrostyLoop

    Scott Forstall? Timing could not be better than this. He is much better than Elop in understanding the mobile landscape which is Microsoft lack of so much.

    • http://www.brianshall.com/ Brian S Hall

      I’m not sure he is the best person, and I would not be at all surprised if Microsoft’s board does the vision-less thing of choosing an internal candidate. Still, Forstall running Microsoft would make for an awesome story.

      • Shameer Mulji

        Forstall was far too loyal to Apple / Steve Jobs and is ( or was) a big Unix supporter. I don’t know if he would be a big fit for MS’ philosophy of “Windows Everywhere.” Most Unix guys don’t like Windows.

        • http://twitter.com/rickroberts Rick Roberts

          A new leader might not/should not fit with Windows Everywhere. A visionary would set a new vision and lead. A caretaker would simply fall into the slot set for him.

      • FrostyLoop

        I totally agree with you that Forstall might not be the best person to fill in the position. But, I should say that Forstall’s quality should be one of the main key attributes in finding the new leader for Microsoft. I am talking about Forstall’s capability / expertise to assist the company to gain a solid ground to move on in the mobile landscape.

        The other guy who knows best about mobile should be Andy Rubin, but people judge him to not have a good sense in finding a way to monetize his mobile platform. And I do not like Android historical background, from Blackberry clone to be the fastest follower of iOS copier. So yeah, I feel much better with Forstall even though I don’t like skeuomorphism.

  • FrostyLoop

    As for Elop to be the next MS CEO, it would be the happiest day of my life to see another Bozo lead MS for another decade.

    • http://www.brianshall.com/ Brian S Hall

      It’s a great American company. I am hoping for the best.

      • Christian

        S. Elop drove one of the most successful European company into the ground to please his master — And even if Nokia was not at is best, it was not the 3rd rate player it has become. So, now that Ballmer is out, it would be only fair that he also run MS into the ground as well. Plus let’s face it, he has the best resume for the job : Windows is now a “Burning platform.”

        • http://tracks.ranea.org/ Watts

          I don’t think that’s a fair characterization of Elop. I worked at Nokia just before (and for a few months after) Elop came on board and I can assure you that they were heading full-bore for the ground before he showed up. There are choices that Elop made that in retrospect I don’t think were wise — most notably the way he handled the PR around sunsetting Symbian — but if he hadn’t come on board and they’d continued doing what they’d been doing, then instead of being on a third-place platform in the mobile wars they’d be on a fourth-place platform.

          Also, could we please stop with this nutty “his master” stuff? As BusinessWeek revealed years ago at this point, Android was Nokia’s first choice when they decided to dump MeeGo. But Google wouldn’t satisfy Nokia’s conditions — that Nokia be able to be use their own services, notably around location and maps, and also be able to use the OS partner branding. If either Google had acquiesced to that, or Nokia had been willing to make an “Android-compatible” phone rather than an Android (TM) phone, they wouldn’t have gone with Windows Phone.

          Actually on point with Hall’s article, I think Elop *could* make a good CEO for Microsoft. I don’t know whether he’d make a great one, but good would be a step up.

          • Christian

            That Nokia were in bad shape and had little clue on how to embrace “real” smartphones, this was obvious from since at least the iPhone went out. But they had quite a number of assets: Nokia Maps, Ovi, good relationships with carrier, Qt, Maemo/MeeGo (Even though it was 12/18 months late compared to Android and iOS), the N9, etc. Not to mention Trolltech (Qt), bought over by Nokia, that was the best European squad of SW developer for phone/embedded, in he same league as Apple and Google teams.

            That you need to pick an outsider as CEO to shake everything and put the house back in order, that can be understood. But this is a far cry from handing over all proprietary technologies, and killing any competition (refusal to sell the N9 in Western Europe, dumping Trolltech/Qt, etc.) to get access to an unfinished product from a company that has the habit of sucking all the blood from their “partners”.

            As I say in my other comment below, Elop now reckon that he just did not want to pick the fight with Samsung. This is just crazy.

            And on the Location/Maps, I just don’t get their reasoning: When Google refuses that Nokia use their own map, they walk away from the table. When MS ask them to hand over their Maps and Ovi to have access to the unfinished WP, Nokia says “Yes sure!”. How does that makes any sense if your preferred choice is Android?

          • http://tracks.ranea.org/ Watts

            Nokia was able to use Nokia Maps on Windows Phone — something earlier Windows Phone partners weren’t allowed to do — and actually, Nokia’s maps are being used across Microsoft web products now. (Go to Bing Maps and look at the copyright.) You can call that “handing over all proprietary technologies” if you want, but it’s my understanding Nokia got a whole lot of money to *license* those technologies to Microsoft. With Google, Nokia wouldn’t have been able to use Nokia Maps and still use the Android branding (and they sure as hell wouldn’t have gotten any money out of the deal).

            You can make the case that Nokia would have been better off going with Android and leveraging Qt on it to make “Android-compatible” devices that didn’t alienate the existing Nokia developer community in the process; they’d just been told that Qt was the official way of the future across all Nokia platforms, after all. But staying with Maemo/MeeGo would have been a very risky option; they were so behind that there were only 4 MeeGo devices in the pipeline for the next 24 months, and that’s counting the N9, which wasn’t actually MeeGo. (It was “Harmattan,” which was kinda-sorta Maemo 6.)

          • Christian

            One last and late quibble: Only 4 MeeGo devices for the next 24 months!? That is not very different with what delivered on Windows Phone, isn’t it?
            Anyway… Game is over now.
            The worst of the bad guys won — thanks to their Trojan.

          • http://tracks.ranea.org/ Watts

            They did get more Windows Phone devices out over the same period, although not by much.

            I don’t believe Elop was a “Trojan Horse”; I know it’s a cherished idea among Nokia fans, but it doesn’t pass the logic test to me. I wrote a bit about that on the last post on my own blog (http://tmblr.co/ZsvBNyu3G-Wf), but the bottom line is that I think Nokia fans seriously underestimate how broken the company was by the time OPK was pushed out and they brought in Elop. The Nokia future that you want — and that I would really have preferred myself — would have required them to have shipped the N9 in 2009, not the N900, and to have actually treated it like a flagship rather than a curiosity. (For the record, I worked at Nokia in San Francisco in 2009-2010.)

      • FrostyLoop

        Sure it is a great American company. I just feel sad as mentioned by Steve Jobs that if MS could have gotten a stronghold in mobile (post pc devices) by crushing any innovative competition just like it does in the desktop space, we would have another decade of dark ages because we would have a very limited innovation and tech progress until the next decade waiting for the next big thing arrive.

        I am always wondering, why MS with so much money and so many top quality engineers has burnt money into R&D and into so many products / services without a solid result. Honestly, this company is clueless. I hope that MS (with its resources) should be another leader in innovation with a real clear goal. Not just slap touch screen onto the desktop OS. Why it does not fine tuning Windows desktop to be more efficient and add more useful features for desktop (and notebook) users. And for sure, why it did not really put all the muscle to develop a really innovative mobile OS?

        Yes, I am really hoping that MS (and Google too) really digs the innovation and pushes full force the tech world, so we (as the customer) really could have top quality different products and services. Not trailing Apple’s maneuver.

  • Rihannafan

    I despise Micro$$$haft. But for all of Ballmer’s blindspots and failures in running a tech business, I must admit they cannot possibly match up to Job’s insanely misguided attempts to treat cancer with incense and patchouli oil. That’s the biggest blind spot of them all.

    • FalKirk

      “they cannot possibly match up to Job’s insanely misguided attempts to treat cancer with incense and patchouli oil.” – Rihannafan

      Are you familiar words like “irrelevant”, “inappropriate” and “distasteful?” You should really look them up and master their meanings before you post again.

    • http://twitter.com/rickroberts Rick Roberts

      Shame on you, and what does that have to do with the present conversation?

  • Defendor

    While I am not ready to vote for a winner. I think we can eliminate a loser from your poll: Steven Sinofsky. IMO he was canned for the same reason that Ballmer is finally “retiring”. That mess known as Windows 8/RT.

  • RD

    Surely not Elop. What has he done for Nokia? Doomed them to be a niche player by making them totally dependent on Windows Phone.

  • N8nnc

    Draconian business practices do not a permanent empire make. I don’t envy their position now. They need to make radical change without appearing to be desperate. I think if they had an internal candidate, they would have delayed announcing until that was lined up (unless they are going through the motions of appearing to entertain external candidates). But what person could manage the tangle that Microsoft is? So break it up, but how without despair?

  • keiffus

    Jon Rubinstein former CEO of Palm. He needs a job and has more career lives than a cat.

    • http://www.brianshall.com/ Brian S Hall

      Had forgotten him. Good recommendation.

  • Anders CT

    Microsoft needs a strategy that doesn’t involve being a devices and service company that delivers everything to everybody. Secondly Microsoft needs to mend some fences with either their OEM partners or with Google. If you can’t beat them join them. Don’t try to do both.

    And it really is sad, that Jobs is not here to be part of this sea of change in computing. If nothing else, it would be a lot more interesting. It would be nice to hear his thoughts on the decline of Windows, the rise of Android and possible disruption in television. Jobs himself helped set all this in motion, and he should have had a front-seat on the ride.

    • http://www.brianshall.com/ Brian S Hall

      “If you can’t beat them join them. Don’t try to do both.” Brilliant.

  • Robbie Rob

    I guess the author of the article didn’t see Steve Jobs in 1997 on stage in Boston with Bill Gates. Steve said.. “The era of competition between Apple and MS was over”. Steve also said something like “many of you ( audience) feel in order for Apple to win that Microsoft must lose, but if Apples not making good products lets stop blaming others… Apple needs to win because it makes good products……we need to fix these destructive relationships and work together”

    I don’t know if Steve really would’ve gotten much satisfaction over that after he alone brought Apple back from being 3 months from bankruptcy with sweeping changes he made and a new product line – including the iPad which he had designed over a decade before it was even possible to make.