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Microsoft shareholder calls for Ballmer's head

Biz-lord's 'misstatement' on Windows 8 not helpful

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Microsoft, in an extraordinary move earlier this week, described its CEO's comments about Windows 8 as a "misstatement".

Despite that, Steve Ballmer's statement remains available on Microsoft's website, and his words are well-and-truly out there and can hardly be put back in a box and forgotten about.

Now, according to a report in the New York Times, one MS long-time shareholder wants Ballmer to be dismissed by the company. Coincidence? Perhaps.

On Wednesday, the head of the Greenlight Capital hedge fund David Einhorn called for Ballmer to be unseated from the top job at Microsoft.

He told an investor's meeting in New York that the software vendor's biggest drag on its share price was caused by its current boss.

Einhorn pointed at failures already highlighted by Microsoft's board in September last year, when Ballmer missed out on a maximum bonus for 2010, after he failed to move quickly enough against Apple's iPad and lost market share in the mobile phone biz.

The unsuccessful launch and speedy demise of Microsoft's doomed social networking mobile device Kin also kept Ballmer's piggy bank a little lighter than he might have hoped for in the year ended 30 June last year.

Now Einhorn has made disparaging remarks about Ballmer, just two days after Microsoft ineffectually slapped down comments made by its own chief about Windows 8.

The shareholder said reports that suggested Ballmer didn't let his own kids use Google products or Apple's iPods meant that he was "stuck in the past." He also described Microsoft's search engine effort Bing as a "sinkhole," reports the NYT.

But whether his colourful comments about Ballmer will lead to other shareholders leading a revolt against the MS boss remains to be seen.

Here's Microsoft's defensive backpedal after Ballmer's Windows 8 spiel:

"It appears there was a misstatement. We are eagerly awaiting the next generation of Windows 7 hardware that will be available in the coming fiscal year. To date, we have yet to formally announce any timing or naming for the next version of Windows."

But for all their efforts to silence Ballmer's statement about Windows 8, Microsoft flacks surely still know who's king, don't they? ®

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