Everything Wrong With The Steve Ballmer Era On Display At D8

Illustration for article titled Everything Wrong With The Steve Ballmer Era On Display At D8

Today at the All Things D conference we saw a snapshot of what's wrong with Microsoft under Steve Ballmer's tenure.


Walt Mossberg asked Steve Ballmer and Ray Ozzie, Microsoft's chief software architect, what they thought of Google, Android, and Chrome.

Ballmer yammered away about how Google's strategy of having two operating systems doesn't make any sense. Why have Android and Chrome? Why do two operating systems like that? Makes no sense, he says,

After Ballmer is done, Ray Ozzie says, Chrome is a bet on the future, Android is a bet on the past.

We can't think of a better illustration of the Ballmer-era.

A competitor announces something innovative. Ballmer goes out in public, plays dumb, trashes it, acts like he doesn't think it makes any sense, even though it does.


Remember his quote on the $500 iPhone? On Android being free? Ballmer likes to laugh at his rivals, only to become the laughingstock years later.

Chrome doesn't make sense today. But it will make a lot of sense in the future when browsers are more powerful and web-based applications are more robust.


Obviously Ray Ozzie gets this. Why doesn't Steve Ballmer?

Interestingly, before the interview started Ina Fried at CNet wrote that Ray and Steve don't talk very much. Clearly, that needs to change.



Its "geek cool" to hate Ballmer, because sometimes he mocks a competitor's product that he doesn't like, or because he's loud, but face the facts, 10 years in and they're still among the most profitable companies in the world. Obviously Ballmer is doing something right.

Lets take the "two OS" comment in context. Chrome OS and Android are both destined to end up in netbooks. Its two drastically different approaches to operating systems targeting the same space. That's what he was getting at.