Take Steve Ballmer … Please!

So trolling through my daily RSS feeds, I came across not one, but two news articles that further make me wonder how the hell Steve Ballmer got to be the head of Microsoft, and why no-one has bothered to take this guy out.

He’s not just a loose cannon or a disaster-waiting-to-happen — he’s an outright liability for Microsoft. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a fan of Microsoft. I spend far too much time wrestling with the things they’ve screwed up (daylight savings time shift, anyone?) or their bug-ridden software (pick any of them) to have anything but disdain for their product management practices.

But we do have to recognize one thing: As much as we might not like Microsoft, they are an industry leader. (Given, that’s due to the fact they’ve got a stranglehold on Corporate America, and at least half the freaking planet, but that’s another issue.) They set directions, make challenges, offer solutions, and generally are the stolid figure in software development that most people would expect from the industry veteran.

Or should that be “industry dinosaur”? As in “fossil”?

Microsoft used to rock everyone else’s boat by going against the grain, lifting ideas, and doing things that were considered “bad” by traditional corporations. These days, it’s Microsoft doing the same thing for the new upstarts of the industry. It’s #1 target? Google.

Most of the spouting these days seems to be filled with the stereotypical “college fratboy” limited-world-view that Ballmer’s been known for over the years:

  • Mocking the iPhone (an inability to recognize that the iPhone is a first-in-class, leading to other, better successors — it’s not just about price, Steve)
  • Saying that “Linux is cancer” (never mind the innovation and stability of the 100% free operating system that’s been adopted worldwide by everyone from the hobbyist to federal governments — too bad Microsoft totally missed the mark with Vista)
  • Seriously believing that Microsoft has won the software war (someone should remind him that innovation requires constant change, something Microsoft seems to have forgotten about — something Apple, Mozilla, RedHat, Google, and Yahoo! all have figured out)

And then there’s just the stupid things he’s done. They’re widely available on YouTube without a lot of searching.

But then I read those two articles, based on the same piece of information.

First off was a note about how Google’s growth is “insane”. Doubling growth in a year. Yep, it’s painful. But if you get people who can handle that (young folk), you’d be surprised what they can do. Google certainly has shown to be able to handle it so far. Too bad you don’t have that kind of problem, Steve.

Ballmer also commented that the non-search efforts are “cute”. Cute. As in: “How cute that you drew a picture! Now go back to your room and let the adults continue their extremely important conversation.” Pompous ass. When was the last time you’ve heard of Google Maps? Google Earth? Groups? News? Gmail? Video (even without YouTube)? Blogger? Code? Yeah, real cute. Google is a “one-trick pony”? He illustrated how Google is trying to turn search into more than just search, and how that’s futile.

Sure, Steve. Not at all how one company turned an operating system into productivity software into video games. Not even remotely.

Someone needs to take Ballmer out of the picture. There are people who are stuck reporting to him who know considerably more about running a software business than he does. That much is clear. They’re experienced, level-headed, and actually have a clue about what it takes to develop a software product.

But please, let us be humane with Old Steve. Take him down with a tranquilizer gun, tag his ear, slap a radio collar around his neck so we can track his movements, and return him to the wild so he can run free with the other animals.

This guy’s been in captivity way too long, and it’s clearly gotten to his head.

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