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Silliest pundit-in-chief Joe Wilcox lavishes praise upon silliest chief executive Steve Ballmer

Daniel Eran Dilger

They say it takes all kinds, and that’s true. Were it not for the ridiculous ravings of Joe Wilcox, it seems Microsoft’s chief executive Steve Ballmer wouldn’t be getting praise from anyone.
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Wilcox could once be dismissed as just another Windows enthusiast nutter spewing the typical mean-spirtited loathing of anything from Apple, but these days his stuff is actually too funny not to read. Everything Wilcox writes is like a rickety skeleton framework of wrongheadedness desperate for being fleshed out with facts that show just how quickly the whole thing will collapse when exposed to the slightest addition of realty.

Thankfully, his musings are also well outside of dangerous territory. Instead of sounding like Glen Beck propaganda or Tea Party admonitions to kill anyone you can’t vote out of office, Wilcox just writes up innocuous silliness that desperately strives to be substantial and convincing but falls far short, sort of like watching Monty Python alumni John Cleese recite dire warnings in a serious voice while the camera pulls back to reveal he’s wearing no pants and a very silly hat.

Steve Ballmer finally shows who’s in charge of Microsoft, by Joe Wilcox

Okay, the headline itself (and no, I did not make that up) is sort of funny, but it gets better, trust me. Having just chronicled Apple’s doings over the past decade as a trio of initiatives that all turn ten this year (iTunes and iPod, Mac OS X and Apple Retail), it’s interesting, almost breathtaking, to read that Ballmer has now been Microsoft’s CEO for 11 years.

While that’s just sort of interesting, the actual message constructed by Wilcox is downright hilarious.

After eleven years of converting the most powerful tech company on earth into a flatlined organization with no direction, no strategy, half of its market share in web browsers erased, nearly no mobile presence at all, and a slipping grasp of the PC market that it once owned outright as a dominant monopoly, Wilcox says that Ballmer’s weak sauce CES keynote and the firing of his head Server and Tools Division executive are proof that Ballmer is large and in charge, adding, “competitors, you’ve been warned.”

Steve Ballmer finally shows who’s in charge of Microsoft

How to fire friends and influence morale

Ballmer is the Anti-Steve Jobs. Rather than praising his highly functional teams and their leaders, as Jobs has increasingly gone out of his way to do at recent events, Ballmer has identified a series of key Microsoft bosses as people that are holding back the company’s progress and need to be let go. Apart from, obviously, himself.

Firing people who can’t do an important job or who do not fit into the corporate culture is not unique to Microsoft of course; this year Apple’s Jobs fired Mark Papermaster, who had been recruited from IBM to run Apple’s iPod and iPhone division. As Papermaster left, Apple simply stated that Bob Mansfield would be taking his place, leaving the media to imagine why Papermaster was let go.

Members of the media all decided it was due to the iPhone 4 Antennagate controversy they’d invented. In reality, it was already known that Papermaster wasn’t seen from the start as the ideal fit for the job, and it later leaked out that the man, while certainly smart and accomplished, had simply never fit into the culture of Apple.

Imagine if Jobs, rather than just quietly dismissing Papermaster, had instead scrambled to his blog to describe Papermaster as incompetent and say how much Apple really needed somebody who could actually do the job right, and you have the beginnings of how Ballmer fired his Server and Tools leader Bob Muglia.

Papermaster’s Apple exit a result of falling out with Steve Jobs


The unkindest cut

A key difference is that Papermaster was at Apple for only a few months, while Muglia had worked at Microsoft since 1988, and had helped build its server business over the past two years of significant growth. Ballmer’s public announcement of Muglia’s demotion was brutal, even before he noted that Muglia had decided to leave Microsoft and that his replacement would be recruited via both an “internal and external search,” a rather unnecessary slap in the face of those who might be inline for a promotion to the post.

If Muglia were the first executive to be let go at Microsoft this year, one might guess he was indeed a bad apple or a poor fit for the job. But in the context of Ballmer’s housecleaning of Xbox and Zune leader J Allard, Entertainment & Devices Division head Robbie Bach, Office Division head Stephen Elop, as well as chief software architect Ray Ozzie (who had joined Microsoft in 2005 to take over the vision role of Bill Gates, and who was supposed to be holding the company’s divisions together in a coordinating role), throwing out the Server and Tools head within the same year-long period seems to be a rather intense and extended amputation on the level of “127 Hours” climber Aron Ralston.

Except of course, Ralston only cut off one arm, not five extremities. We also know Ralston survived; Microsoft’s script is still being written, and isn’t out of the woods yet, with a series of arduously mountains left to climb even as it bleeds and starves and goes a little insane from the pain of not being able to do what it formerly could back in the days of being on top of the world.

Hail the great Ballmer, Microsoft’s charmer

Wilcox’s praise of Baller makes it sound like he’s a court musician, struggling to find rhyming lyrics that best flatter the crowned emperor who sits on his throne naked and glassy-eyed, eating a greasy turkey leg as his country is overrun by invading Huns outside.

Ballmer’s unappreciative public dismissal of Muglia, Wilcox imagines, “communicates to Wall Street just how serious Ballmer is about the cloud and transforming the server business to embrace it — the same way Allard’s and Bach’s departures showed renewed commitment to transform the mobile business.”

What sort of transformation is Wilcox talking about in Microsoft’s mobile business? The rebranding of Windows Mobile and its simplification down to something its own top tier licensee LG described as “boring”? If Microsoft were serious about transforming anything, it wouldn’t be throwing away its executives, it would be throwing away its dead end strategy of trying to own everything by branding a poor copy of existing successes with the Microsoft Windows logo.

If Ballmer had even a momentary flash of leadership occur within his cranium, he’d have instructed his Windows Mobile group to immediately discontinue trying to sell Windows CE and instead build mobile Office apps for iOS and Android. Then, once the world grew dependent upon these apps, Microsoft could introduce a mobile OS and declare that it was the best way to run mobile Office, giving it at least a fair shot at reentering the mobile business.

Instead, Ballmer has simply renamed Microsoft’s existing Windows Mobile that was rejected by the market as worthless to users, gave it a fresh coat of paint, and now wonders why he’s getting the same result he got from doing the very same thing to the PlaysForSure/Zune. That’s not leadership, it’s Einstein’s definition of insanity.

The Spectacular Failure of WinCE and Windows Mobile
Windows Phone 7: Microsoft’s third failed attempt to be Apple

Wilcox apparently gets paid by the word

Whether or not Wall Street analysts and investors can believe in Ballmer,” Wilcox wrote, “that he is the right man to continue running Microsoft, is another matter. But there’s no question about who is in charge.”

Brilliant. Perhaps next Wilcox can name on every other company’s chief executive and confidently identify that person as being “in charge,” regardless of whether that’s a good idea or something that inspires confidence from those investing in the company.

“No one should underestimate Microsoft in 2011,” Wilcox concludes, without every explaining why. Instead, he simply adds, “Whether the good ship Microsoft breaks up on a reef or outmaneuvers competitors during the next two years, Ballmer will be at the helm. Accountability starts and ends with him now, like never before in his 11-year tenure. He’s communicated that he is absolutely in charge. It’s now deliver or die.”

Well thanks, captain obvious. I’ve known for the entire last decade that Ballmer was running Microsoft, I just didn’t realize until now that most of that time doesn’t really count because Bill Gates was around. But going forward, watch out world! Ballmer isn’t afraid to throw out all of his division heads and run the entire show as an interim executive committee of one. Hmm, what sort of qualifications does Ballmer have to indicate that he can do all of this himself? Oh right, none.

Ballmer’s Decade of Fail

Ballmer has presided over the failure of Windows Vista and the plateauing of the PC without implementing or executing a strategy for Microsoft’s future. He’s sat in the hot seat as Tablet PCs, UMPCs, Slate PC, and Surface PC have done absolutely nothing to replace the lack of growth in the company’s bread and butter desktop business, even as Apple has transformed itself from a minor competitor with 2% global share to being a major player that not only takes a 9% share of the entire market, but takes a 90% share of the high end of the market, where all the profits are.

This year, the iPad has taken a ferocious bite out of PC sales, enough to cause US PC growth to turn negative in Q4, even as Microsoft’s own tablet ambitions have hit the ground without so much as a dead cat bounce.

Ballmer has also overseen the stagnation of Office, which has done absolutely nothing to remain relevant as the world goes mobile, apart from announcing a deal with Nokia’s cancerous dinosaur Symbian that hasn’t yet resulted in anything. While he’s done nothing, Apple has released mobile versions of its iWork suite that continue to be the top selling titles on iPad. Where’s Office for iPad? Microsoft has barely been capable of delivering Office across Windows and Mac PCs, even as the price it can extort for desktop software implodes.

Ballmer has also overseen the abject failure of PlaysForSure, Portable Media Center, the Zune, KIN, and Windows Mobile, and has syphoned off billions of the company’s revenues into the barely break-even Xbox franchise. Windows Enthusiasts are abuzz about Kinect, a fast selling peripheral that is helping to move Xbox 360s. But Microsoft’s game console, while entertaining, hasn’t been able to achieve what it was supposed to do: block the development of OpenGL gaming, establish VC-1 as the world’s video codec via HD-DVD, and keep games development tied to Windows.

Microsoft may not ever have expected Xbox to make billions, but didn’t invest billions into the concept just to create fun video games. It expected its game console to support and extend its existing monopoly power in media and software development and kill off competitive threats. It hasn’t done any of those things.

Instead, gaming has gone mobile, with Apple (of all companies) now getting most of that attention due to its creation of broad mobile platform that is gaming friendly, accessible to indie developers, and sustainably profitable for third parties. Apple has also wrestled away the mobile GPU spotlight, and taken the lead in promoting OpenGL and OpenCL as credible alternatives to the DirectX/Windows-centric development that the XBox franchise was intended to tie into Microsoft’s monopoly position.

And while Sony has beaten HD-DVD with its Blu-ray format, the real winner has been consumers, who can now chose from a variety of options for H.264 video, ranging from BR disc on the high end for large HDTVs, to iTunes downloads that cover everything from HD, to desktop playback, to low-powered mobile devices. All the efforts Ballmer invested in creating Windows Media/VC-1 as an H.264-killer have not only missed their mark, but have left the company far behind the rest of the industry.

As a composite picture of failure, Microsoft’s last decade only has one common thread binding all of these facets of inaction, miscalculation, and bungled execution together: Steve Ballmer.

Lessons from the Death of HD-DVD

Balmer gets sideswiped

Microsoft’s board might have removed Ballmer if they expected one of the most profitable companies on earth to actually appreciate in value over the course of the last decade. That indicates Ballmer is not alone at Microsoft in being completely delusional, incapable of action, and simply bad at basic decision making.

While primarily responsible as Microsoft’s chief executive and executive director, Ballmer shares the blame for Microsoft’s decade of failure with other board members, including its chairman Bill Gates, venture capitalist David Marquardt, Merk special advisor Raymond Gilmartin, Bank of America CFO Charles Noski, BMW chairman Helmut Panke, Accenture chair and former CFO of JPMorgan Chase Dina Dublon, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, and Princeton computer science professor Maria Klawe Ph.D.

Those people have done very little to suggest a lack of confidence in Ballmer’s bluster, apart from a weak tap on the hand delivered in the form of limp reprimand over “the unsuccessful launch of the Kin phone; loss of market share in the company’s mobile phone business; and the need for the company to pursue innovations to take advantage of new form factors,” as was noted in the company’s proxy filing.

That meek rebuke of Ballmer’s year of incompetence was accompanied by his annual compensation of just $1.3 million (which includes only 100% of his bonus, rather than the 200% he could have been awarded if he’d done anything right last year).

AppleInsider | Failures in mobile space cost Steve Ballmer half his bonus

At CES however, a man who could be Ballmer’s successor did deliver a stunning blow to the company’s head bumbler. On the morning before Ballmer was to deliver his keynote speech, Steven Sinofsky, the president of Microsoft’s Windows Division, called a press conference and detailed the company’s goals for porting Windows to the ARM architecture. That left Ballmer with literally nothing to say in his keynote.

Imagine Bertrand Serlet or Scott Forstall calling a press release on the same day Steve Jobs was scheduled to give a major address, and then delivering all the details on the next version of Mac OS X or iOS. Hard to fathom. But at Microsoft, the man whom Wilcox says is large and indisputably in charge is getting the wind stolen from his sails (regardless of how inconsequential and weak that wind is) by his own right hand Windows man.

Apparently Ballmer isn’t quite the “decider” Wilcox imagines he is.

42 comments

1 themacpundit { 01.15.11 at 7:25 pm }

Daniel,

Fully agreed on Balmer and how Microsoft is slowly going under.

One knit-pick though. When you say “This year, the iPad has taken a ferocious bite out of PC sales, enough to cause US PC growth to turn negative in Q4″…..that’s not quite right.

There were 300 million PC sales in 2009 and 350 million in 2010. Gartner and IDC’s prediction on average was for about 350 million PC’s to be sold. So for now the PC market isn’t shrinking.

Now, will tablets (and let’s not kid ourselves it’ll be the iPad) eventually become the way a good chunk of people use a computer? Undoubtedly! Will Microsofts inability to make a proper OS for tablets contribute? Of course. We just don’t see these numbers in 2010.

http://themacpundit.wordpress.com/2011/01/13/did-the-ipad-slow-pc-sales-in-2010/

2 Per { 01.15.11 at 8:23 pm }

There’s no defending Ballmer as a CEO but the general tone of this piece put me off. You might as well make fun of his appearance while you are at it.

3 stormj { 01.15.11 at 8:23 pm }

@themacpundit : One nitpick. (Aside from you writing “knit-pick”):

Daniel said Q4 growth turned negative. You’re citing year total numbers.

I have to say though, picking on Microsoft as a Windows enthusiast just seems mean now. It’s kind of like being an American and say “ha ha, we won the Mexican war” to Mexico. MSFT is pathetic, rudderless, and about as creative as a strip mall at anything other than extracting rents from monopolies and inventing new ways to plagiarize.

Anyway, I don’t know what the point of concern trolling MSFT’s failure to develop a mobile Office. Really, it would be a sound, profit-making company for a long time if they would just shut up and make decent versions of Windows and Office and sell it to business instead of trying to do all of this other crap.

4 stormj { 01.15.11 at 8:24 pm }

* as a Mac enthusiast.

5 themacpundit { 01.15.11 at 8:29 pm }

@stormj

Point taken on Q4. I’m not sure we can say the iPad was the cause though. In a few years there will be no doubt the iPad will eat into PC sales.

D-oh! Nice catch on the misspelling!

6 brotherStefan { 01.15.11 at 8:51 pm }

“Instead of sounding like Glen Beck propaganda or Tea Party admonitions to kill anyone you can’t vote out of office, …”

That’s as far as I got into what I thought was going to be an insightful article. The diseased Liberal mind just cannot help itself. It’s just got to resort to slander and libel, even when it’s unnecessary. Aside from the blatant fabrication, what’s it got to do with Joe Wilcox?

7 stormj { 01.15.11 at 8:56 pm }

@brotherStefan : the reactionary mind cannot help but shut itself off from input when anything attacks its absolutist ideology. That’s why you stopped reading.

8 themacpundit { 01.15.11 at 8:59 pm }

(forehead slap) let’s not go down into a 100 comment political fight…..

9 jpmrb { 01.15.11 at 9:06 pm }

“…the slightest addition of realty”… Realty? ;-)

10 danieleran { 01.15.11 at 11:31 pm }

@brotherStefan

Opening with an observation on the current cultural events is a great way to prevent lockstep absolutist fundamentalists from reading my stuff. It’s sort of like DRM.

Of course I’m kidding, and I hope you are too.

At the same time, shooting a little girl born on 9/11 is a terrible way to apply the cult programming of the “lock and load,” “vote and then kill the liberals if that doesn’t work” type of religio-fascist fear-mongers.

You’re supposed to just get really angry and vote for Republicans, not actually murder lots of people, literally.

The bullseye drawn on Gabrielle Giffords by Sarah Palin wasn’t a message to literally point a gun at her and pull the trigger to kill her in cold blood, it was meant in a figurative sense, as in “hate somebody so much for what they believe that you want to motivate your neighbors to vote against her by any means necessary, stopping short of actual literal violence that would kill innocent people.”

Maybe just bring the gun to the political event and walk around with it so that everyone knows you could kill them if you wanted to, but that at the end of the day, you don’t actually murder the US Representative, nor kill bystanders. You probably wouldn’t even wave your gun menacingly, just keep it holstered so that people know you can murder them but are good enough not to, despite your signs suggesting that you will start to kill people as soon as you feel your liberty is in question.

Because what good is America if you don’t demonstrate the right to execute everyone around you if you feel threatened? And if we don’t all carry guns, even the mentally insane and deeply troubled, how will we celebrate our Constitutional right to join a militia?

11 rufwork { 01.15.11 at 11:35 pm }

I don’t know, you still have to give him credit for the Developers rant.

No, really, beyond the “Give it up for me,” he at least has the potential to be a good sport.

Now I’ll go remind myself why there’s no MSFT in my portfolio.

12 ronhip { 01.16.11 at 12:12 am }

Daniel, really… If you don’t stop criticizing and demeaning Mr. Balmer, someone up in Redmond may actually DO something about him – like fire him! Do you REALLY want MS to put someone fully competent in that position? Be careful what you wish for! I’m enjoying the current show so much. I don’t want it changed in any way.

13 gus2000 { 01.16.11 at 1:10 am }

Give Ballmer credit for doing one thing right: he pulled those horrific Gates/Seinfeld commercials. Whew! Crisis averted.

14 Brau { 01.16.11 at 1:15 am }

As a Mac user I simply say, “Long may Ballmer reign!”.

15 InfoDave { 01.16.11 at 6:28 am }

Just one man’s opinion, but I felt like it was a low blow to Joe. He didn’t deserve to be picked out of the crowd, especially when there are so many more, far worse articles. I know there’s bad blood between you guys, but don’t let it tarnish your writing.

Your comments about Ballmer are spot on, as usual. Being upstaged at CES is just plain weird. Have you noticed that when Ballmer shows up on stage, there’s a lot less energy in his voice (Monkey Boy), there’s a look on his face like he knows it ain’t working, but he’s got to go on with the show anyway. He hasn’t given up, but he’s real beat up.

16 SkyTree { 01.16.11 at 8:08 am }

Dan,

Well observed, but was this a report about how stupid Joe Wilcox is or how stupid Steve Ballmer is?

If you take a look at the prodigious output of Joe Wilcox’ blogs, you can see his only goal is to fill column inches – if there’s a new topic, Joe has his angle, facts, reality be damned. It doesn’t matter how stupid the opinion, Joe will make money out of it. Take the Verizon iPhone, for example – Joe wrote an idiotic story along similar lines “Verizon finally shows who’s in charge of iPhones”, predicting that the CDMA iPhone would have Verizon logos, Verizon crapware etc. Even got John Gruber upset. A few days later, Verizon iPhone finally shows that Apple is in charge of iPhones – Surprise! Did Joe the Blow publish an apology?

So could this mean that Ballmer has received the “Kiss of Death” from JoeBlow?

Personally, much as I disliked Microsoft’s “World Domination” attitude, I have been using Microsoft’s software for longer than I have been using Apple’s hardware, and some of it was pretty good. Not any more. Ballmer is the King Lear or the Robert Mugabe of technology, and whatever you say will not make him go quietly. Joe the Blow is the Court Jester.

17 kreatre2010 { 01.16.11 at 8:38 am }

Like brotherStefan, I got as far as: “Thankfully, his musings are also well outside of dangerous territory. Instead of sounding like Glen Beck propaganda or Tea Party admonitions to kill anyone you can’t vote out of office…” before I had to stop reading. I tried to let that insanely hateful, and stupid comment pass, but I couldn’t. There is no reason for you to smear members of the Tea Party in that manner, in a blog that mainly focuses on technology. I have enjoyed reading your articles almost 6 years, but this really will be the last time I come back. I don’t really care what your political beliefs are, but when you resort to hateful statements that imply that the Tea Party was the cause of the Tucson shooting, I can’t let that pass. You’re entitled to your own beliefs, and you’re entitled to express them, but you seem to want to be deliberately offensive. You are guilty of the very uncivil behavior that the sycophants in the news media have been blabbing about endlessly. I know you’re going to write a reply here that attempts to make me look like an idiot for daring to challenge you, but I don’t care. I won’t be coming back, so I won’t see what you wrote. You are a hypocrite to write an article critical of Steve Ballmer, but then you shit all over your readers if they disagree with you. While you have some brilliant insight into Apple, you’re not so brilliant in how to deal with criticism. Please just delete my account. I won’t be coming back.

[I don't think you understand the concept of hypocrisy. It means saying and acting one way while really being and doing another.

So, for example, your tearfully upset bit about being angry that I would relate the very clear and well documented Tea Party encouragement to kill liberals with the murder of people at a gathering that Tea Party leaders labeled as "liberal" ... While at the same time blaming me for "uncivil behavior," as if what I said would drive anyone to be rude, let alone go on a murder spree.

When people like you say the things you do, our world becomes a stupider, more hateful place. You are making excuses for a group that is conspiring to create a climate of hate.

The Tea Party is full of "slippery slope" theories about how we can't allow anything reasonable (such as the most basic gun control that might restrict insane people from buying semi-automatic murder weapons) to occur because it might lead to "Omama taking away all our guns" and that we can't think for ourselves about adult content because that would result in the breakdown of society, but seems completely unable to grasp the connection between fervently inciting violence and actual violence.

So good riddance, please don't read my stuff if you can't handle reality. I don't earn anything from your free perusal of my writings. - Dan]

18 Berend Schotanus { 01.16.11 at 9:34 am }

Short resumé of the above:

Daniel predicts that Steve Balmer will (be forced to) resign from Microsoft in 2011. His successor will be somebody like Steven Sinofsky who does understand the cool side of computing.

;-)

19 Maniac { 01.16.11 at 1:43 pm }

“Ballmer has also overseen the abject failure of PlaysForSure, Portable Media Center, the Zune, KIN, and Windows Mobile, and has syphoned off billions of the company’s revenues into the barely break-even Xbox franchise.”

One of the biggest differences between Ballmer and Jobs (aside from the “vision thing”) is that Jobs is extremely good at analyzing other companies’ business models, then figuring out what they’re doing wrong, then mobilizing Apple to do it right. For example, he saw what all the MP3 player manufacturers were doing right and wrong in 2000-2001. Apple released iTunes, then iPod, and the rest is history.

Jobs did the same thing with the smartphone industry. He saw that carriers were resisting anything that didn’t help them sell big-minute voice plans to subscribers. Data didn’t help with that, so smartphones were at best an annoyance to the carriers. It took iPhone to wrestle AT&T to the mat. To get them to submit to adding visual voicemail etc. and to move the smartphone into mainstream cell phone user mindshare.

Ballmer, on the other hand, only understands Windows and Office. Microsoft has retreated from the Bill Gates era’s aggressive experimentation in everything from embedded automotive systems to, yes, tablet computing. That era resulted from Microsoft’s need to crush any potential competitor before it could become big enough to threaten them in any way. Back when FUD worked because Microsoft was all-powerful and feared throughout the industry. That era is long gone.

Ballmer doesn’t understand or care about industries outside Windows + Office, and as a result Microsoft’s efforts outside Windows + Office are near-total failures. It’s as if Ballmer only approved the WP7 project, for example, because he was forced to. Because he’d be immediately fired if he didn’t do something, anything, in the mobile phone space to replace Windows Mobile. (Something, anything other than KIN, of course.)

Ironic that Microsoft is degenerating into a Windows + Office company that also does game consoles. Kinect is the one thing that Microsoft does well outside its legacy core businesses. It may or may not bring Xbox sales up to Wii levels despite the Kinect’s high price. And Kinect will be hit hard when Apple brings apps (including many extremely popular games) to Apple TV. It’s not “if” but “when.”

20 roz { 01.16.11 at 4:15 pm }

@brotherStefan

“The diseased Liberal mind”

This is the problem with people on the right. They have no argument to make. They nearly wreck the country when they are in power because their ideology is broken. So they make personal attacks. If you had any sense, you would know that you don’t want to live in a society without liberalism. You would not have basic liberties such as freedom of speech without liberalism. Societies that denigrate liberalism get fascism.

The so called conservatives are not even conservative. It’s not conservative to risk destroying the environment so that you can burn more coal and petrol. It’s not conservative to invade two muslim countries with little planning or preparation. It’s no conservative to lower taxes during a war so that the country goes into debt to it’s adversaries. The word for this behavior is reckless and irresponsible. Being reckless and irresponsible is the opposite of conservatism. Liberals see these issues clearly. It’s the right that has deluded itself. Wake up.

21 hrissan { 01.16.11 at 4:52 pm }

I wonder how did those guys like Balmer get their jobs with millions dollars payrolls?
How do I apply? :) I’m sure I will do better for much less. :)

22 macsdounix { 01.16.11 at 10:54 pm }

“themacpundit { 01.15.11 at 8:59 pm }
(forehead slap) let’s not go down into a 100 comment political fight…..”
Yeah, you are right. Dan’s attempt to exploit the Tuscon tragedy is not worth bothering with. Sometimes I forget that Dan is all about the clicks . . .

23 wombatty { 01.17.11 at 11:58 am }

…Wilcox just writes up innocuous silliness that desperately strives to be substantial and convincing but falls far short

Speaking of which….

…sounding like Glen Beck propaganda or Tea Party admonitions to kill anyone you can’t vote out of office…

[You should see a connection only if you're a ridiculous idiot. Because calling somebody "silly" and disagreeing with them is a far cry from blaming them for losing your job, threatening that they'll take away your guns, and then recommending that armed revolt and assassination is the only way to make things good again.

One is a commentary of viewpoint (which allows Wilcox and others to respond with their own opinions in response), the other is an incitement to murder (that is shouted to an ignorant populace that can't question the one way direction of misinformation being propagated toward them). - Dan ]

24 wombatty { 01.17.11 at 12:19 pm }

You really should steer clear of the politics, Daniel – it just sullies your good tech reporting with distracting…crap. Rather like your ill-fated attempt some time ago to enlist Adam Smith in favor of progressive income taxes (if memory serves). Having failed that, you then turned to Republican president Teddy Roosevelt for support (‘see, it’s not just Democrats!!), forgetting of course that TR was, wait for it, a PROGRESSIVE. Remember his unsucessful third-party run of the Progressive Bull Moose Party?

In any case, speaking of violent political rhetoric, remember this?

That Scott down there that’s running for governor of Florida,” Mr. Kanjorski said. “Instead of running for governor of Florida, they ought to have him and shoot him. Put him against the wall and shoot him. He stole billions of dollars from the United States government and he’s running for governor of Florida. He’s a millionaire and a billionaire. He’s no hero. He’s a damn crook. It’s just we don’t prosecute big crooks.

Those darn bitter-clinging Tea Par…oh, wait, Kanjorski is a progressive democrat. And he’s far from the only such ‘civilized progressive’. So much for that. Damn it!!

It’s the Progressive Way! When all else fails, just blame righty!!

[There is no defense for anyone saying they plan to kill somebody else or encouraging others to act out their desire to kill a person or group of people, and anyone who voices such ideas should be demanded to repudiate their remarks, regardless of where they sit in the political spectrum.

At the same time, there is a difference between heated exchanges where somebody says something like "this person is dead" or that somebody "deserves to be shot," (which while unacceptable, are an expression of anger) and the cold blooded calculation of conspiring to murder a list of your political enemies, complete with a nonstop feed of lies and propaganda that justifies "liberal killing" as a jihad-like remedy for supposed political tyranny.

You can try all you like to pretend that liberals and conservatives in the US are both equally spouting off death threats at the same rate, but that's simply not true by any stretch of the imagination. You have to dig hard to find the rare comment you dredged up above, but that wasn't something celebrated in the mass media. It was a rare comment that I've yet to see MSNBC or any liberal website prancing around as behavior people should copy or admire.

One doesn't have to do any searching to find Tea Party threats of violence, particularly gun-related threats of violence, which are clearly articulated not a occasional emotional outbursts of somebody on an angry pedestal, but as a regular din of calculated murder threats against anyone perceived to be "liberal," something that is directly amplified, tolerated, supported, and even recommended by Fox News personalities and a sea of right wing websites.

Just listen for the enthusiastic support of murdering and inciting the murder of the head of WikiLeaks. Taking a political stand vilifying his actions is one thing for a "journalist" to do, but waging popular support for an assassination of a figure based on nothing more than rather weakly supported case that he deserves death by mob action is rather obviously beyond the line for a modern society.

Shocking that the fundamentalist conservatives of america are pretty much identical in ideology to the Muslim fundamentalists they hate so much. Both refuse to believe in science (disputing man-made climate change in preference to believing ancient literature), hate freedom of speech and freedom from religious oppression, and have no tolerance for others with differing views.

If you're a student of history, the Tea Party's witch hunt of "liberals" is being carried out on the same level of as Nazi party's invectives on Jews prior to their taking power. And seriously, Glen Beck would have made a really good recruiter for the Nazis given his emotional crowd incitement to hatred, combined with his ability to sell worthless gold investments. - Dan]

25 KenC { 01.17.11 at 12:51 pm }

Dan is not afraid to say the Emperor is not wearing any clothes, because Microsoft is beyond a turnaround. By the time Microsoft has a viable mobile strategy, it’ll be too late.

26 makemineamac { 01.17.11 at 6:11 pm }

Great article Dan, as usual, and while Joe continues to publish the dreck that has become his style, I am certain Ballmer cannot be long for Microsoft.

Apart from the many salient points you have made here, there is no way that this board can give him much more time to do something. Anything.

Now he might have been the guy that came up with Kinect, but I highly doubt it, and it truly is an amazing experience to use and ‘play’. Truly innovative. But when you look at the performance of all other Microsoft entities, he simply needs to go.

As for the political statements, I find it extremely hard to believe that in light of the recent incident in Tucson, that any American that loves and cares about their country, would not want far better gun control than you have now. It is beyond ridiculous that anyone can walk in and buy a gun so easily. Gun control wouldn’t fix all your problems, but it would certainly be a start.

But, I have to remember, the people that seem to love guns the most, are the same ones that don’t support health care for others….

27 wombatty { 01.18.11 at 4:37 am }

As for the political statements, I find it extremely hard to believe that in light of the recent incident in Tucson, that any American that loves and cares about their country, would not want far better gun control than you have now.

On what basis do you believe that people who are intent on killing (which is illegal, by the way) will suddenly say to themselves:

You know, I was gonna break that law against murdering people, but now that they have another gun-control law, I guess I’ll have to change my plans.

[Glad you asked! You see, how laws work is that they allow society to enforce rules enacted into law that represent principles that would otherwise be ignored by some individuals. So making murder illegal doesn't stop murder, it just makes it easier to prosecute and in some cases, prevent.

Reasonable gun control laws is one aspect of making it more difficult for people who should not have a gun (say, people who have been involved in violent criminal behavior before, or people with a history of mental problems) to obtain one. It can't prevent all attacks, but it can make it more difficult to the point where fewer people find themselves in the circumstances to do mass damage to a lot of innocent people on the same scale.

We make certain types of explosives and toxic substances restricted, and our country has no problem restricting the ability to drive a vehicle when intoxicated or after too bad of a driving record (despite specific Constitutional rights protecting freedom of movement).

People who say that everyone should be able to obtain guns without restriction, even terrorists (as Sarah Palin has gone on record as saying) are not reasonable. Your assertion that laws make no difference to lawbreakers is also irrelevant, because we have all kinds of laws that are broken. Should we just give way to anarchy tomorrow because of this? How absurd. - Dan ]

Your argument supposes that criminals (who are lawbreakers by definintion) will find anti-gun laws more compelling than anti-murder laws. On what basis do you believe this? And this is to say nothing of the fact that many crimes and murders are prevented by law-abiding citizens possessing the means to defend themselves.

When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have them. If someone will use a gun to break the law, they will break the law to use a gun.

[And they will be arrested. That's how laws work. Conversely, if you smoke a joint in Middle America and are charged with a Felony for it, your rights to own a gun ("to defend yourself") will be taken away for the rest of your life. Try explaining why that makes any sense.

While your at it, try to explain why Constitutional protections afforded by a government you distrust (and which reserves the right to withdraw them on a whim simply by convicting you with a Felony) convey any real rights to defend yourself from said government and its supposed "tyranny."

The position of the extremist Right Wing in demanding unrestricted gun "rights" while also saying that recreational drug use must be kept illegal and that people shouldn't be able to set up whatever personal relationships they might enjoy is simply irrational, contradictory and nonsensical. - Dan]

28 berult { 01.18.11 at 7:56 am }

You see wombatty, Dilger is as opinionated about gun control as he is about extreme trolling on his own website. Neither, does he propose, speaks well for a civil discourse in American society. A serious web site needs curating for its survival, and so does a  serious society for its civil perennity.

You can loath his well articulated socio-political leanings, you can deplore his perpetual campaign to expose the underlying reality within the hype, the smoke screens and the outright lies being thrusted upon consumers of electronics, you can question his prose and his particular use of analogical weaponry… But you honestly ought to give him kudos for consistency.

You’re not a troll as long as you intend, as you apparently do, to debate in someone else’s home …from the sunny side of your conviction. Even though you may feel in the heat of the moment that the rule doesn’t apply to his own ethics. The boundaries of ethical constraints are set up by the webmaster of this site whose rules set sit well within what a basic ethical behavior on the Net should be.

I find Dilger informative, passionate, entertaining, and strictly non-threatening to you and me, witness our presence on his Blog. The fastest endings to life-sustaining dialogue come from bullets on the stumping grounds and by out-of-the-box baiting on the evening rounds.

29 TheMacAdvocate { 01.18.11 at 10:02 am }

I read Dan despite his politics. It’s something you have to expect. You’ve been warned.

On topic, if you want another example of Microsoft getting zero respect, look at the HP Slate announcement from last year’s CES. What do you think would happen to HP 10 years ago if they 1. Bought a company with a product in the same competitive space as Windows and 2. Embarrassed Ballmer by announcing that they were using it to compete directly with Microsoft. Gates would have done everything in how power to burn HP to the ground. With Ballmer, these OEM smackdowns are hilariously commonplace.

30 wombatty { 01.18.11 at 10:25 am }

Berult:

You see wombatty, Dilger is as opinionated about gun control as he is about extreme trolling on his own website.

While Daniel might (and probably does) have the same position on gun-control, I was in fact replying to makemineamac.

But you honestly ought to give him kudos for consistency.

I’ve never questioned his consistency; in fact I’ve found him quite consistent. Perhaps your problem here is that I have not said so explicitly. I hereby remedy that shortcoming…

You’re not a troll as long as you intend, as you apparently do, to debate in someone else’s home …from the sunny side of your conviction. Even though you may feel in the heat of the moment that the rule doesn’t apply to his own ethics. The boundaries of ethical constraints are set up by the webmaster of this site whose rules set sit well within what a basic ethical behavior on the Net should be.

Not sure what to do with this. What ‘ethical constraints’ have I breached? I have no problem with Daniel, or any other site owner, to set the rules of his own site. I also recognize that he has the right to violate them himself all day long. If he wants to ban me, he can and I won’t complain – it’s his ‘home’. Where have I implied otherwise?

Perhaps you’re objecting to my referring to Daniel’s political quips as ‘distracting crap’ (please be clear next time). Fair enough; I could have used a less derogatory term. I did not use it without reason, however. His earlier quip regarding Smith & progressive income taxes was demonstrably false and I pointed that out that the time. His invocation of TR for ‘conservative/Republican support’ of such was misinformed as TR was no conservative, but in fact a progressive. As such it is no surprise that he would have supported a progressive income tax.

His Tea Party smear is, at best, a lack of consistency. If he is indeed offended by violent political rhetoric, I have yet to see him take progressives/democrats to task for it (he certainly didn’t do it in this post) – and it’s not for lack opportunity, as I demonstrated with the provided links. Further, he did not substaniate his assertion (something I make a point of doing regarding my own statements). At worst, his smear is a dishonest double-standard. As I have no reason to think the worst of Daniel, I presume the former – perhaps due to his being unaware of the many offenders on his own side of the fence.

[If anyone on the left or in the center began a campaign of "shoot to kill" rhetoric that built over years and culminated in not just a murder spree like the Tucson shootings, but was also connected to every other serious case of domestic terrorism (including the Oklahoma Federal Building, and the murder of JFK and RFK and MLK Jr, and so on and so forth) there would be some case for you to argue that the Tea Party/John Birch Society/Freeman Movement is not an anomaly but an example of how people in general act. It is not.

The Tea Party/John Birch Society/Freeman Movement is and has always been a collective of rage soaked fundamentalist right wing extremists who view murder and terrorism as an acceptable way to drive the country away from liberal progress.

The only similarity you can hope to find on the left (within America) is a minority fringe of idealistic youth who have stepped across the line at times, but rarely caused actual damage, and who have been rejected and repudiated by the mainstream of the left and center.

The Republicans used to do the same with the John Birchers and Freeman terrorists, but today they're very clearly embracing, encouraging and sponsoring the same radicalism under the Tea Party banner. This is disgraceful to the GOP and the US as a nation. - Dan]

I find Dilger informative, passionate, entertaining…

I agree whole-heartedly – that’s why I am a regular reader here. This happens to be my favorite site for ‘Man analysis & commentary’ – I only wish he would write more often. I regard his political quips as a minor and inconsequential (to me) irritant. Hence, I appear in the comments section rarely.

…and strictly non-threatening to you and me, witness our presence on his Blog.

You lost me again – where did you get the impression that I feel threatened?

The fastest endings to life-sustaining dialogue come from bullets on the stumping grounds and by out-of-the-box baiting on the evening rounds.

Again, you need to be clear. Are you implying that I am engaging in such behavior or are you just making a general statement? If you’re making an implication, just come out and say it.

In any case, I am not a troll – extreme or otherwise – your insinuations notwithstanding.

31 wombatty { 01.18.11 at 12:08 pm }

I agree whole-heartedly – that’s why I am a regular reader here. This happens to be my favorite site for ‘Man analysis & commentary’

D’oh! That should have been ‘Mac analysis & commentary’.

32 berult { 01.18.11 at 2:00 pm }

wombatty, thank you for taking the time.

33 elppa { 01.18.11 at 7:20 pm }

[1] Windows Home Server (a product with some potential) removed support for drive extenders (to the outrage of the community). This basically rendering Window Home Server as useful as a Drobo. Less useful, in fact: http://www.engadget.com/2010/11/24/windows-home-server-vail-drops-drive-extender-support-ms-sugg/

[2] Courier. Balmer canned it. It may have been vapour but if released it would have at least given them a foothold.

[3] The brains behind Kinect has left… for Google.

Paul Thurrott seems to get it before Balmer:
http://www.winsupersite.com/article/paul-thurrotts-wininfo/Windows-Everywhere-Wake-Up-Microsoft-It-s-2011.aspx

34 kdaeseok { 01.19.11 at 9:44 am }

At least Balmer’s healthy.

[I'm not a doctor who has examined Ballmer, but how is being obese and regularly enraged to the point of throwing chairs "healthy"?

Also, the CEOs who ran Apple into the ground in the early 90s, and more recently Dell, HP and Nokia, all seemed pretty healthy themselves. -Dan]

35 TheMacAdvocate { 01.19.11 at 10:18 am }

@elppa
One of the things people fail to appreciate about [2] is that it takes *work* to move something from “cartoon rendering” to “shipping product”. Drawing it means next to nothing. Courier had as much of a chance of being released as an X-Wing Fighter has of being built by Northrop Grumman.

36 harrywolf { 01.20.11 at 12:19 pm }

Don’t have time to refute some of the anti-political types here. Suffice it to say that politics is also reality and there is no sense in separating our computing from the rest of our reality.
Would like to see Dan expand his connecting all things style of writing – I believe it leads to greater understanding and less delusional thinking.
Great writing, don’t stop your political diatribes, the USA is lucky to have such a clear thinker.

37 kdaeseok { 01.22.11 at 2:22 pm }

Dan// healthier than Jobs?

38 marv08 { 01.23.11 at 12:55 am }

Brilliantly written article, but maybe a bit of “cracking a nut with a sledgehammer”. Wilcox is barely more than Dvorak and Enderle’s, already shared, single brain cell on life support.

Anyhow, I am not at all surprised about how bad Ballmer is at managing MS. He is a salesman, and the only things MS is making money with don’t really need to be sold – they are bundled, or companies buy them anyhow. It’s a bit like running the only international airport in a country and telling everybody how much all the airlines like you. The really surprising thing is, how bad he is as a salesman…

Some years ago, I incidentally saw George Foreman promoting some kitchen utensils on some sales channel (I was channel-surfing and instantaneously recognized his face). There was this living legend, dumping raw meat into some grinder, and finally throwing some kind-of-meatballs into a pan, and then serving the produce to the audience. He was polite and charming, and so the audience could not resist to call the meatballs (he did not grace with any salt or pepper) “delicious”. In the end there was a useless product, a useless presentation and people were lining up to buy, because everybody was overwhelmed by the style and charm of the old fellow. There was only one product to buy, so people bought it.

Cut. Son of a Ballmer at CES 2010, WP7 Introduction 2010, CES 2011… The salesman representing the world’s best known IT company, and one that still has an operating margin to die for. Having learned nothing in his life, he still resorts to copying his mentor Gates’ stage setups from the nineties. An enormous “white elephant sale” (aka “jumble sale” by those, who can’t see Russia from their homes) scenario, with tons of electronic waste on an endless table, in front a sweating imbecile pitching one product a minute (computer and never-released tablets at CES, and 10 different WP7 phones, that not even their own designers could tell apart, during the WP7 launch). People shake their heads, instinctively protect their wallets, and buy something else.

A person that received a million hits on the head in his lifetime does understand that you can only pitch one product at a time. The MS CEO does not. No matter how incompetent the board of MS is (and they must be, otherwise Bullmer would have been removed years ago), this will end at some point. Good for Apple: it is too late already.

39 gslusher { 01.23.11 at 2:16 am }

@marvo8:

Good observation & comment. One quibble: George Foreman’s original “machine”–a double-sided electric griddle–is very useful, especially for those of us who live alone. It’s faster and more efficient than heating up a stove. It cooks from both sides at once, so the meal is ready quicker. I can cook salmon, steak, chicken, pork chops, etc, and vegetables at the same time. It doesn’t need oil, so it doesn’t add fat (and the meat doesn’t sit in fat, as it’s raised by the grill. Add a microwave & small crock pot and a bachelor can do quite well.

40 FreeRange { 01.24.11 at 2:59 am }

Shhhh! Let’s not wake up Microsucks sleeping board of directors Dan. And thanks for your insightful commentary, including your political metaphors. Too bad we have the right wing idiots and tea party nut jobs trolling your post – but that’s ok. Their ignorance shows through and are worth a good laugh.

41 GeorgeFromNY { 01.25.11 at 2:39 pm }

Daniel wrote:

“If anyone on the left or in the center began a campaign of “shoot to kill” rhetoric that built over years and culminated in not just a murder spree like the Tucson shootings, but was also connected to every other serious case of domestic terrorism (including the Oklahoma Federal Building, and the murder of JFK and RFK and MLK Jr, and so on and so forth…”

I’m no fan of Beck, et alia but you just went off the rails there, Dan.

Sirhan Sirhan and Lee Harvey Oswald were part of some continuous, decades-long tsunami of Rightist agitation and violence? Really?

Hell’s bells, why stop there? Can’t we shoehorn Leon Czolgosz in somewhere? How about Giuseppe Zangara?

What about the American Radical Left of the 1960s, whose ranks included plenty of people and groups openly and explicitly calling for political violence, armed revolt and the assassination of government and law enforcement officers… and were all too willing to put those creeds into action?

I don’t have a problem with you calling out the Right for its sins, Dan. The problem is that your understanding of the matter is so corrupted by your own ideology as to incinerate whatever integrity your political comments might otherwise have. It turns what should be a sincere rebuke of extremism into shrill, partisan invective; you become self-refuting.

Nice thumping of Ballmer, though.

42 macsdounix { 02.01.11 at 8:48 pm }

What’s nice is that I’ve discovered that you can read Dan at appleinsider.com – where he apparently is now gainfully employed. The editors at appleinsider actually edit Dan, and cut all of his political blah-blah-blah. The Dan one reads at appleinsider is a much more useful Dan than the one you read here.

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