Steve Ballmer was actually fired, sources say. So what now?

Goodbye, Steve. We'll miss your 'unique' presentation style.

Steve Ballmer fired

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer was fired, say sources. Not that this is a huge surprise to industry-watchers: Who seriously believed he'd actually decided to retire? Ballmer is seen as a failure, although there are one or two supportive voices.

In IT Blogwatch, bloggers chew over Big-Steve's legacy. Not to mention: Ballmer in happier times...

Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment.

Juan Carlos Perez channels analysts: [That's better. You'll be fired if you do that again -Ed.]

An accumulation of blunders...may have hit a tipping point. ... Ballmer has been the target of critics over a variety of issues. [For example:]

...

Ballmer should have exited the stage several years ago, because he has lacked vision...and failed to properly execute. ... Ballmer has been in hot water over Windows 8 [which] many perceive as a flawed release...heavily criticized due to its radically redesigned user interface. ... Microsoft is leaving billions of dollars on the table by not giving users of iPads and Android tablets a full version of Office. ...the controversial and so far not very successful decision to have Microsoft manufacture and brand its own tablet.

...

In its fourth quarter...Microsoft missed Wall Street's revenue and profit expectations. ...whoever replaces Ballmer must manage the company more like a startup.  MORE

Kara Swisher's sources say Ballmer was fired:

the departure of CEO Steve Ballmer...as neither planned nor as smooth as portrayed. ...sources said Ballmer’s timeline had been moved up drastically — first by him and then the nine-member board...after all agreed that it was best if he left sooner than later.

...at the time of the restructuring announcement in July, Ballmer’s definite and clear message was that he was there to stay. ... Most critical to that decision [to retire] were increased board worries that recent pressure from activist investor ValueAct...had a good chance of succeeding in its efforts to obtain a seat on the board [and] such a public fight is untenable for the company, since it was likely to attract even more scrutiny to Ballmer’s performance.  MORE

Preston Gralla independently reaches the same conclusion:

Did he make the decision on his own, or was he forced out? ... Ballmer didn't make this decision alone. ...he saw that he was going to be forced out, and decided to exit as gracefully as he could.

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Microsoft has floundered under his leadership, there have been increasing calls for him to go. ...in the internal email he sent to Microsoft employees...he's saying he wanted to stay during the heart of the transition, but now recognizes that he can't.

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That will end up being one of the best things he's ever done for the company.  MORE

But Aaron Levie comes to praise Ballmer, not to knife him in the back:

Microsoft more than tripled its annual revenue under Ballmer, from $22 billion annually when he took over to $78 billion. ... Microsoft also began to embrace the cloud, launching successful online services and platforms like Office 365 and Azure. ... Microsoft’s negligible market share in search grew to 30 percent. ... Microsoft also secured the only corporate investment ever made in Facebook.

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Microsoft is one of the 50 largest companies in the world. ...pointing to their competitors’ successes and saying “they should have done that”...over-simplifies how hard it is to make the right calls. ... And you can already see early signs of momentum in the right direction. ... Microsoft is becoming a markedly different, and more open, company.

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The technology ecosystem is best served by companies pushing the bar higher and higher. ... Hopefully whoever is chosen to steer the Redmond oil tanker can usher in this all-new era of Microsoft.  MORE

So real-modo offers this suggestion:

Microsoft's hope is Asia [where there's huge growth potential. ... Microsoft needs a CEO who understands China, and a 2IC who knows the rest of East and South Asia. ... Who in Microsoft could take on the big roles?

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Ballmer's biggest failure...is succession planning. It's the core...duty of a CEO: to grow his staff to the point where they can run the business. Ballmer sucked at it.  MORE

And Livius explores the phychology behind that failing:

Insecure dictators have a history of making sure there's no-one available to replace them, as part of their strategy to avoid being replaced.  MORE

Meanwhile, this Anonymous Coward has some specific suggestions:

They completely neutered their Small Business Server. ... I recently ran into this setting up a medical practice. ...if their business model is moving in that direction, I'm moving away from using their product. I'm finding that certain flavors of Ubuntu are much more suited to what my clients need, and at a price you can't beat.

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Force OEMs to hand out CoAs so that their customers can re-install the OS. ... It's complete BS that customers of big PC manufacturers can't re-install [without] uninstall[ing] bloat/crap-ware from PC's individually.

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Stop screwing IT businesses. ...killing Technet is a good example of things you really shouldn't do.  MORE

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