Home > Media Industry > Is it bunker time for Microsoft?

Is it bunker time for Microsoft?

July 4th, 2006

One way to get your point across is to scream it.

Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer is one of the great "screamers" of the computer industry.

(Historical trivia for folks interested in the intricacies of history: Ballmer’s Dad was  a "neutral" Swiss during WWII who got a great job with Ford in the US right after the war. His job right before that was translator for Nazi war criminals at the Nuremberg Trials. True story. Look it up.)

There may be more to this than just interesting historical trivia…


As people who know me know, I am not a fan of Microsoft.
Never has a company made so much money peddling such crap. In the
process, they probably set the personal computing revolution back
twenty years or more. If it hadn’t been for Netscape and Apple 1.0 and
Apple 2.0, we’d still all be using MS-DOS.  No exaggeration. 

If the future of Microsoft is all about "advertisers, advertisers,
advertisers" as Ballmer rants in this video, this says two things to
me: 1) the Internet as a mainstream media channel has arrived and 2)
Microsoft is in deep, deep you know what.

Microsoft doesn’t have the people, the culture, the experience, the
infrastructure – or the credibility – to make this transition. 

I think Gates was wise to get out of the bunker early.

Here’s a recent clip of Ballmer driving home the company’s new direction at his "ranting and raving" best.

Note the unusual arm gesture Balmer uses at the end of the clip when be makes his point.

I’ve only seen it one other place…and it didn’t end to well for the other guy who used it either. 

Who did Steve Ballmer model his speaking style after?

Serious question.

After all his dad personally knew the guys who knew the guy.

Watch the short clip and you tell me. 

Same gesture, just a different angle.

On a more (or less) serious note, here’s some advice from
Microsoft to its resellers on how to deal with the fact that people are
growing sick and tired of its inferior product line:


Ken McCarthy

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  1. Ken
    July 5th, 2006 at 09:47 | #1

    Interesting idea expressed in the “how to sell microsoft” article.
    I paraphrase:
    “We don’t care if they love us, but we do want them to fear… I mean respect us.”
    When Microsoft could get away with it, they used fear and intimidation to build their business. Their ability to get away with strong arm tactics is fast diminishing.
    Ballmer & Co. created a sense of widespread loathing and distrust about the company and its motives that’s going to handicap them every step of the way as they try to adapt to the new realities of personal computing.
    Most bullies grossly underestimate the value of earning trust. They’re so intoxicated with their short-lived ability to get their own way, it never occurs to them that there will be a price to be paid later for their behavior.
    Microsoft is not Standard Oil and they don’t have an iron grip a commodity that can’t be replaced.
    My best guess is they’re about to experience what IBM went through in the 1980s. Maybe a lot worse.
    It couldn’t happen to a more deserving bunch of guys.

  2. July 5th, 2006 at 10:12 | #2

    For Ballmer it’s about Windows…it’s about developers…it’s about advertisers.
    Ballmer NEVER mentions customers or users.
    Why am I not surprised?

  3. July 6th, 2006 at 17:24 | #3

    One thing I have never understood about Microsoft and consumer protection law. A company has to sell a product which is fit for its purpose. So we should be able to take the Windows program back to the retailer and say: “This doesn’t work properly – fix it” or ALL antivirus software should be provided free.
    Why doesn’t the government stop MS from selling broken products? If I sold cars and every single one of them kept breaking down and as a result posed a health and safety risk the government would be duty bound to close down my company. Every single MS OS connected to the internet poses an unacceptable risk to its user, so the government…

  4. Ken McCarthy
    July 6th, 2006 at 18:54 | #4

    It’s especially bizarre when you consider what an absolutely central role the personal computer plays in our economy.
    Microsoft is like a crook who sells you bad gasoline that makes your car break down periodically.
    The only difference is they were allowed to buy out and/or sabotage all the other gas stations in town. What a deal!
    How much has Microsoft’s inferior product line cost our economy in terms of wasted time and lost productivity? Far more than Gate’s net worth.
    And yet Bill Gates is hailed as some kind of business genius? Ridiculous.
    Even his Foundation work – peddling vaccines to the Third World – is suspect.
    Gates has been selling his Microsoft shares and buying stock in pharmaceutical companies.
    The Register (UK) had a story about this in 2002.
    He recently got hit with an $800,000 fine for being too aggressive in his acquisitions in this area:
    Basically, he’s recycling his money.
    Moving it from a sinking ship – Microsoft – to his Foundation tax-free.
    The Foundation then funds commercial vaccine projects and then he personally cashes in when the companies the Foundation is in bed with with go into production.
    Health in the Third World and everywhere else is a matter of clean water, proper sanitation and nourishing food. The Gates Foundation is silent on these topics. After all, how do you make a buck on that?
    Instead they want everyone in the Third World to roll up their sleeves and get a mandatory shot of one of products Gates has a stake in.
    Sound familiar?
    Let’s just hope the vaccines he’s involved in developing aren’t as bad as Windows. The Third World has suffered enough.

  5. July 12th, 2006 at 09:06 | #5

    Inside the US, it`s hard to find any serious criticizm of Microsoft in the mass media. Outside the US it`s a different story.
    For example, the European Union continues to fine the company for operating an illegal monopoly.
    Yesterday, the National Post, the straight-laced newspaper of record for English-speaking Canada had this to say about the company:
    ¨The company is swimming in cash, but doesn`t know what to do next, other than copy its competitors.¨
    (Sounds like a lot of rip-off Internet gurus I know…)
    To paraphrase the rest… `they missed the game console revolution…they missed the portable music player scene…- and now, years late, they`re trying to play catch up with unprofitable offerings.
    This was the headline of the article on the back page:
    ¨Microsoft has run out of ideas¨
    In fact, Microsoft has always been very weak on ideas – and strong on `appropriating` other company`s ideas.
    (Sounds like a lot of rip-off Internet gurus I know…)
    The Windows interface? A rip-off of Apple.
    Only their lawyers saved them on that one.
    Microsoft Explorer? Rip-off of
    And on and on it goes.
    Great control of the media via public relations, great attorneys, and formerly great ability to silence critics and drive competitors with superior products out of business via devious means.
    That`s the Microsoft legacy.

  6. July 23rd, 2006 at 13:51 | #6

    Some interesting points- and fair criticism about the fact that Ballmer never rants about customers! It’s revenue and product he’s interested in. I’m bummin’ because I asked him the question that created his “advertising, advertising, advertising” question and they edited me out! -Nalts

  7. Yeah Right
    August 5th, 2006 at 09:47 | #7

    Oh yeah, Ken, it’s all Apple vs DOS. Puhleeze. What, have you been in a coma for the last 20 years? Apple is a loser company with a loser product. They have made the computer into a fashion statement and like companies in the fashion industry, they have to pull a new rabbit out of the hat every couple of years or the entire company will go down the tubes. Apple, for all its originality, is now copying Microsoft by using Intel chips that they boast runs… Windows. Their own “operating system” is nothing more than Unix. And Jobs has jumped ship to Disney, which as we all know never had an original idea in its life and not even Jobs will change that culture.
    And as for the rants, as any so-called marketing expert should know (and as you well know) your sales and distribution channels and your partners are your most powerful tools to attract customers.
    For MS, developers are both one of their most important customer segments and one of their most important influencers on customer decisions (by creating a wide choice of products that run on MS platforms).
    And now as they step up their ad platforms, obviously advertisers and ad agencies are their customers – after all, the context of the video was an agency conference, and again, as you well know, agencies are the “developers” of advertising and influencers on advertisers’ decisions.
    So his message was dead on target to his audience – an audience of Microsoft customers, new customers for MS, and that was his point and he was celebrating that point and letting his new customers know he heard them loud and clear. What is so hard to understand about that?
    Keep in mind, CEO’s of large companies with a variety of products selling to a variety of markets are pretty much like policitians – they tailor their message to the audience of the moment. So don’t be surprised if he sounds like a politician. And don’t be dismayed when you try to compare the notes of talk for one audience against the notes of talks for another audience.
    Now, if only MS would recognize info-marketers… And if you think MS customers are such dupes, why don’t you come up with an info-product to “help” MS customers? Surely it would be a ripe market….
    Peace out.

  8. Ken McCarthy
    August 8th, 2006 at 12:54 | #8

    Now that’s what I like!
    Some honest debate.
    Thanks and keep it coming.

  9. David Leihgeber
    August 8th, 2006 at 17:48 | #9

    I’m with you, Ken. I don’t own an Apple, but anyone with an ounce of common sense can see that Microsoft is a monopoly.
    Install, re-boot… defrag, re-boot… update, re-boot. Re-boot, re-boot, re-boot. Windows is a frustrating piece of garbage that those of us in most businesses must endure just to run the industry applications that we need to function.
    Our government totally failed the public when they got Microsoft in court and then failed to follow through. Couldn’t the prosecutors have come up with something more solid to hang their hat on than browser/OS integration? What a joke.

  10. Ken McCarthy
    August 29th, 2006 at 11:36 | #10

    Here is a direct quote from Steve Ballmer, reported by Mark Lucovsky, a former Microsoft “distinguished engineer” and sworn to in a court in a court of law:
    “F—ing pussy Eric Schmidt is a f—ing pussy. I’m going to f—ing bury that guy, I have done it before and I will do it again. I’m going to f—ing kill Google.”
    This is the mentality of the people at the top at Microsoft.

  11. Ken McCarthy
    August 31st, 2006 at 22:49 | #11

    Speak of the devil…
    Eric Schmidt was just named to the board of Apple Computers.
    The plot thickens.

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