Steve Ballmer Talks About His Retirement Plans, Biggest Disappointment At Microsoft And More

Steve Ballmer

Microsoft CEO today revealed his plans to retire from Microsoft within 12 months from now. Steve wrote a letter to all the employees of Microsoft, read it here. In an interview to Seattle Times, Steve spoke on few things that are interesting.

  • On why he retired before his youngest son went to college – “so we have a successor in place so we can lead a multi-year journey, or  I would have to sign up long enough so I don’t leave mid-stream.”
  • His biggest accomplishment – “giving birth to the notion that people are going to use intelligent devices for their own personal usage.” “When I joined Microsoft, my parents asked me two questions,” he said. “My dad asked: ‘What’s software?’ My mom asked me: ‘Why would a personal ever need a computer?’” Microsoft played “an incredible role in making personal intelligent devices happen,” while also returning profits and cash to its shareholders, he said.
  • His biggest disappointment at Microsoft – What we did was take a very talented group of engineers and tied them up for a long period only to ship a product that was a net step back, not a step forward,” Ballmer said. “We had people tied up working on something that didn’t matter when they could’ve been working on defining the future.That was, to me, the biggest mistake. You can’t let your development team work on the wrong stuff.”“I’d write Longhorn down as my single biggest disappointment,” he said, adding that “some of our challenges today” stem from those years.
  • On his retirement plans – “I knew I always wanted one more chapter of my life,” he said. “I think anyone who knows me knows I’m all consumed by my family and Microsoft. Other than playing golf now and then, I don’t have other passions. Maybe that’s why I say I want another chapter in my life — to experience something other than those two things.”

Read more at Seattle Times.

  • WebUser

    this is a remarkable leader and a remarkable business man. no matter how much the US media asshole on him. SteveB tops my list of the most respected in technology.

    • BuyLo

      This guy was no leader. He was at best a pretty good use car salesmen.

      Anyone with a brain know he was terrible for the company which is why the stock has jumped 5% on the good news!!!!!

    • SategB

      The guy has been terrible:

      • Emily the Strange

        terrible for people who have no idea what they are talking about. please grow up and then come back when you understand this stuff :)

        • Buylo

          Says the person who takes a cartoon as identity

          • Kool Shah

            what does cartoon or anime pic has to do with having knowledge? you dumb a$$

    • Not Steve

      Agreed. Beyond Steve’s flamboyant presentation style, I think he is a super smart guy. He had some tremendous accomplishments at the company before he became CEO (licensing DOS/Windows). As CEO he oversaw the release of XP and Windows 7. Some of the best operating systems to date! And he lead the company into new terrority by expanding its search business, investing the cloud with Azure (now finally taking off) and Xbox 360, the list goes on. Even Windows CE/Pocket PC were great for their time but iPhone (and then iPad) had a really strong impact on the mobile market using their leverage in iPod/iTunes (and yeah, the UI was awesome). If only Microsoft responded sooner by not screwing around with WM 6.5 and getting WP7/8 out sooner, things probably would look a lot different right now. How could they see that coming though? Would you? With that leverage, Windows 8 could have been more successful, since people would be more likely write apps that ecosystem, one of its biggest problems for Windows 8 right now. Removing the Start button turned out to be a bad idea, too, in the end, but I don’t think that was Steve’s decision. The press really likes to have fun with Steve, but he’s contributed positively way more than they give him credit for, IMO. That being said, some of the management problems at Microsoft do have to be fixed, and the whole “One Microsoft” thing seems to align with what the company needs to do for the future. It will be interesting to see who they’ll pick to replace Steve. It’s not an easy job considering the reputation Microsoft has.

  • Gopi Krishna

    Good for Microsoft. Let’s see who is next. The next CEO should be a technical guy. I don’t mind if Bill Gates comes back.

    • Yihang Xu

      I do! Because Bill does NOT like Windows Phone and he uses an iPhone!!!!!

  • SategB

    Biggest Dissapointments of Ballmer:
    1. Longhorn
    2. Window 8
    3. Zune sales
    4. Surface RT sales
    5. Kin sakes
    6. Surface Pro sales
    7. Forced employee ranking
    8. Window Phone 8 sales
    9. Web search
    10. …and list goes on and and on…

    • Simon Tupper

      Surface pro and RT sold more than a lot of android tablets, and Windows 8 as now more than 5% market share. Apple took years to bring OS X to 5-6%, while it took a few months for w8.

      • BuyLo

        Stop worring about APPL and worry about MSFT tanking. When you talk about Surface’s success talk about the one billion dollar write down on the dusty units in the warehouse!

    • anujgoyal

      btw bing is doing much better than MSN search. Surface RT pro sales is much better, considering its not a tablet. Windows 8 is a great OS, its just that people hate change max revenue for MS comes from corporate adoption, that is going to take time for win 8. Win 8 is the is future as PC sales are dropping i do not see why people want to stick to desktop OS. Lenovo sold more tablets and phones than PC’s this year…win 8 is a step in right direction, its just that native desktop app developers need to start thinking mobile for example Ableton live etc. Adobe has already started doing it.

    • nohone

      1) agreed, it never shipped so it was a failure
      5) agreed, they should not have bought Danger, except for the patents
      7) agreed, they have lost many people because of this
      The other items you list are pure opinion. While WP8 could be doing much better, selling well over 100million copies of Win8 is hardly a failure. If Apple sold over 100 million copies of OSX, we would never hear the end of what a success it is. For Surface, don’t forget that saying that it is not good until Microsoft ships version 2. Zune was not great until ZuneHD shipped, and it is tough to go up against the Apple monopoly in media players, and Apple’s sales of iPods are almost non existent. With Surface 2 around the corner, with new devices about to be released including rumored 7-8″ devices, they will do much better (and even Apple’s sales of larger tablets have plummeted).
      But look at the successes of new products, successes that have brought in billions in profits and not mentioned here:
      Azure – a product with no equal, with the closest being AWS, which is far behind. Google’s service is nearly unused. Even Apple uses Azure to drive some of their services rather than building out their own.
      Office 365 – a hosted service unparalled. Apple today announced their beta online offering, and no one uses iWork. Google has a service that is a joke compared to all the office services available to the one provided by Microsoft.
      Xbox – people thought that it would be impossible for Microsoft to be a competitor to Sony and Nintendo. Meanwhile Nintendo’s latest is being outsold by the 360, Sony’s PS4 was supposed to not be needed since the PS3 was future proof and yet it is not selling any better than the 360.
      .NET – Java was supposed to be the best for developers to write their code, it was supposed to run the web, from the server to the front end. On the server, where seem to be evenly split. But on the user facing side, if it were not for Android, no body would be using Java. It has become a huge laughing stock, but .NET is alive and well on the desktop.
      And the list goes on and on

  • RichFrantz

    Dump on him all you want, nobody better comes to my mind. Don’t forget, he has/had to run the whole business, not just herd the cats down in engineering.

  • the slayer

    hmmm “giving birth to the notion that people are going to use intelligent devices for their own personal usage”……….sorry Steve but you are talking out your ass again…….next he will be telling us they give birth to WIMP