Feeds

Steve Ballmer: Thanks to me, Microsoft screwed up a decade in phones

'We didn't put hardware and software together soon enough' he tells uni kids

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Vid Steve Ballmer's greatest regret from his time at Microsoft is that he flubbed his company's attempts at smartphones and mobile computing. That's what he said on Tuesday during his first public appearance since stepping down as CEO of the software goliath.

Speaking before an audience of graduate students, business owners, and the media at Oxford University's Saïd Business School, Ballmer said Microsoft "would have a stronger position in the phone market today if I could redo, for example, the last ten years."

"The thing I regret is that we didn't put the hardware and software together soon enough," he said. "It was almost magical the way the PC came about with an operating system from us and hardware from IBM. There was a little bit of magic, too, for Android and Samsung coming together. But if you really want to bring a vision to market, it is helpful to be able to conceive and deliver the hardware and software."

That's not to say that Microsoft has decided to follow Apple's model, in Ballmer's view. The former Microsoft man acknowledged that Apple products are perceived as "cool" today – "quote, unquote," he quipped – but said that the brand Apple has built for itself wouldn't be Microsoft's brand.

"What I would hope Microsoft will mean is affordable, empowering technology for all," Ballmer said. "It doesn't have to be as 'fashionable' as that, but it's got to be very empowering and very affordable and take all forms."

Not so 'soft' anymore

By "all forms," Ballmer means that the Microsoft of the future will continue to move beyond its roots as a tools and software vendor.

"The name of the company is Microsoft. Micro ... soft. It was a fundamental part of the founding principles: we were a software company," Ballmer said. "And yet, Xbox, then Surface, and now the phone, essentially we have a profile that will wind up being far more mixed in the future."

A still of Steve Ballmer at the Oxford Uni talk

No kid, you can't have a refund for Windows ME. Were you even born then?

Because of that ongoing shift, the ex-CEO said, the decision to acquire Nokia – a deal that is still pending regulatory approval in some markets – was the single biggest strategic choice he made during his tenure as chief exec.

Ballmer, a 34-year veteran of Microsoft before his retirement this year, said Microsoft has a good chance at succeeding in its transition to a "devices and services" company because it has already accomplished more than most technology companies ever do.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Assange™: Hey world, I'M STILL HERE, ignore that Snowden guy
Press conference: ME ME ME ME ME ME ME (cont'd pg 94)
Premier League wants to PURGE ALL FOOTIE GIFs from social media
Not paying Murdoch? You're gonna get a right LEGALLING - thanks to automated software
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
Ballmer quits Microsoft board to spend more time with his b-balls
From Clippy to Clippers: Hi, I see you're running an NBA team now ...
Online tat bazaar eBay coughs to YET ANOTHER outage
Web-based flea market struck dumb by size and scale of fail
Amazon takes swipe at PayPal, Square with card reader for mobes
Etailer plans to undercut rivals with low transaction fee offer
Call of Duty daddy considers launching own movie studio
Activision Blizzard might like quality control of a CoD film
US regulators OK sale of IBM's x86 server biz to Lenovo
Now all that remains is for gov't offices to ban the boxes
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.