Tag Archives | Steve Ballmer

Join Us for Live Coverage of Steve Ballmer’s Final Microsoft Keynote at CES

Steve Ballmer CES 2012 Microsoft keynote live coverage

Next Monday at 6:30pm PT, Steve Ballmer will give what Microsoft says is the company’s final keynote at CES. I don’t know whether he’ll acknowledge that fact, in either a serious manner or a lighthearted one. But it’s a safe bet that he’ll talk about Windows 8, ultrabooks, Xbox, and Windows phone. And I’ll be in the audience, along with TIME’s Doug Aamoth. We’ll liveblog the event as it happens at technologizer.com/ces12. Join us, won’t you? (And if you need a reminder, head there now: You can get an e-mailed notification when the event begins.)


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If Ballmer’s Days Are Numbered, Bill Gates Isn’t the Answer

It can’t be that much fun to be Steve Ballmer right now. He’s the head of a company whose stock price has been stagnant: trading at essentially the same level for much of the last eight years, safe for a few upward (and downward) blips. He’s presided over one of the company’s most high-profile failures–the Zune–and is playing playing catchup in a market you essentially helped create.

One of the most prominent successes of his tenure — the Xbox 360 — is credited to somebody else, who was rumored to have left the company over his questionable business decisions.

He’s often derided for his bombastic personality, and has technology pundits calling his tenure “The Reign of Error.” Now its come to a whole other level — investors and analysts asking for his pink slip.

Is the increasing chorus against Ballmer fair, or do others share in Microsoft’s failure? Or is this symptomatic of a larger shift among the company’s key customers, where Microsoft as a whole has fallen out of favor? You could make a case for any any of these scenarios.

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Ballmer’s Right: Five Reasons Why Microsoft Should Open More Stores

As Harry noted earlier, the Business Insider’s Matt Rosoff has the news of an internal debate with Microsoft on the future of its retail stores. The gist is this: CEO Steve Ballmer and COO Kevin Turner are itching to push full steam ahead and take on Apple by vastly expanding Microsoft’s retail network. However others in the company have convinced them to hold back, citing the expense.

Thus, we’re left with a small network of nine stores (with another on the way), all but three of which are on the west coast. There’s a good chance a majority of consumers don’t even know Microsoft even has a retail strategy.

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Ballmer Keynote Build-Up

Microsoft has released a teaser video for Steve Ballmer’s CES keynote tomorrow that it presumably hopes will go viral–and hey, I just helped it do so!

Speaking of teasing, here’s a little shameless self-promotion for our coverage tomorrow

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Coming Next Week: CES Coverage, Ballmer Liveblog

For tech journalists, there’s no such thing as a new year’s holiday. We’re all too busy getting ready for next week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The show floor doesn’t open until Thursday, but the festivities get rolling on Tuesday–and on Wednesday evening, Steve Ballmer will give Microsoft’s traditional keynote address. At last year’s event, he announced iPad-esque “Slate PCs” that went pretty much nowhere; this year, he’s expected to talk about another iteration of the concept and maybe even provide an early look at Windows 8.

I’ll be covering the show all week, and will liveblog the Ballmer keynote as it happens. You can join me at www.technologizer.com/ces2011–and if you head there right now, you can even sign up to get a reminder by e-mail.


Steve Ballmer is Right!

[NOTE: Our T-Week newsletter has been on hiatus, but it’s back. Here’s the lead story from last week’s edition–go here to sign up to receive it each Friday. You’ll get original stuff that won’t show up on the site until later, if at all.]

Steve Ballmer at the Windows Phone 7 launch on Monday, October 11th, 2010

Sad news: Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has been found to be completely insane. The expert doing the declaring is my fictional friend Robert X. Cringely of InfoWorld, and he bases his diagnosis on a Ballmer quote in a recent CNNMoney.com story.

Ballmer is speaking of Windows Phone 7, which shipped internationally last month and hit the US this week:

“We’re early; there’s no question we’re early,” Ballmer said at Microsoft’s Professional Developers Conference. “I think we kind of nailed it. When you see it, you just go ‘ooooh.'”

Cringe thinks that Microsoft is anything but “early” to the smartphone game, and that if Ballmer thinks otherwise he’s delusional:

I suppose if we’re talking geological time, then Ballmer’s right, Microsoft is on the cusp of the smartphone epoch, and the dinosaurs just went for a dip in the tar pits. But in a market where a three-month-old device needs to be checked for liver spots and signs of dementia, spotting the competition three-plus years and then coming up with something that almost meets the smartphone standards set in 2007 is not exactly being early. It’s certainly not “nailing” it — unless we’re talking about a coffin.

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New Xbox 360 in 2010, Ballmer Says

xboxnatalMicrosoft’s motion-sensing video game controller will be integrated with a new Xbox 360 model, due to arrive in 2010, according to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

Ballmer, quoted by TG Daily at an Executive’s Club of Chicago event today, said the console will have a “natural interface” with a built-in camera that can detect movement and voice. That sounds like Project Natal, the 3D motion-tracking camera announced at E3, to me.

Ballmer’s comments confirm — in a roundabout way, perhaps, as TG Daily’s report doesn’t mention Project Natal by name — at least a portion of earlier rumors. 1UP had reported that Project Natal will be integrated into Xbox 360 hardware in 2010 as a rebranded console, along with some minor boosts to the hardware. The motion camera will also be sold as a standalone product for existing Xbox 360s, 1UP’s story said.

This week, the Xbox 360’s director of product management, Aaron Greenberg, halfheartedly debunked the rumors, telling Eurogamer that Natal will run on the Xbox 360 and that “no new console investment” will be necessary to enjoy the motion controller. Another anonymous Microsoft source said the company urged people not to believe the “nonsense on the Internet.” Neither of those comments are firm denials of upgraded hardware, and TG Daily had nothing to report on the matter.

I’ve already talked about why a new console with shinier graphics is a bad idea. In short, the headaches for existing console owners and for game developers would outweigh the benefits of more processing power. But it’s perfectly logical for Microsoft to release an Xbox 360 SKU with the motion camera built in. If the company’s looking to attract new gamers, selling an all-in-one bundle is the best way to do it.

Update: Here’s what Microsoft is saying on the matter; it seems very similar to what Eurogamer got this week: “As the Xbox team stated at E3 two weeks ago, we are not even halfway through the current console generation lifecycle and believe Xbox 360 will be the entertainment center in the home for long into the next decade.  Project Natal will be an important part of this platform, but we have not confirmed a launch date at this time.”


Ballmer Takes on the "Apple Tax"

03-16ballmer-peoleready_lgMicrosoft CEO Steve Ballmer can’t seem to help himself when it comes to talking smack on Apple. His latest comments came at a media summit in New York held by publisher McGraw-Hill, where he claimed Apple consumers pay an extra $500 for the Apple logo. He seems to infer that the economic conditions have helped Windows turn the tide against the Cupertino juggernaut. He also took the opportunity to prove both his Microsoft and American gravitas too.

We now know that the Ballmer family does not own a single Apple product, and he drives American cars. I don’t know, but that almost seemed a subtle dig in and of itself towards the Apple faithful. What does the stereotypical user drive? Volvos, Volkswagens, BMW’s… in other words, foreign cars.

Yes, Ballmer is outspoken. But sometimes I look at this guy, and am reminded of this video — and I just don’t take some of what he says all too seriously.


Microsoft to Squeeze Windows 7 onto Netbooks

Windows 7At an analyst meeting in New York City today, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer revealed that the company was working on a low-end edition of Windows 7 that’s designed to run on netbooks. The increasingly popular budget notebooks rarely run Windows Vista, in part because that OS’s hardware requirements–formulated in the pre-netbook era–simply exceed what most 0f the low-cost machines have to offer.

Microsoft’s interest in netbooks is an acknowledgment that Windows 7 needs to compete with lower-cost solutions that come preloaded with Linux and even Windows XP. Other potential entrants, including Google’s Android OS, are also threatening Windows’ dominance.

The company’s failure to compete in the low-end market has profoundly impacted its finances. Windows client revenue recently fell 8% as a result of PC “market weakness and a continued shift to lower priced netbooks,” according to Microsoft’s second-quarter earnings release. Even so, Ballmer stated that about 90 percent of netbooks have been shipped with Windows XP, during today’s conference.

And that trend is significant: netbook sales are steadily increasing. This month IDC found that netbooks account for 30% of sales in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) market alone.

Outlining Microsoft’s strategy to appeal to netbook buyers, Ballmer said that Microsoft is developing a low-end version of Windows 7 designed specifically for netbooks, and will provide an upgrade path to more powerful versions of the OS. Windows 7 is designed to work well on inexpensive laptops, he said.

Ballmer didn’t talk about what features the Windows designed for netbooks will and won’t offer, but the company has already announced that the bargain-basement Windows 7 Starter Edition will only let users run three programs at once. My take is that Microsoft would be wise not to appreciably limit the functionality of Windows 7 on netbooks, or customers will vote with their feet, and PC manufacturers will choose another operating system that makes the most of what netbooks have to offer.