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Gates disappointed at Microsoft's performance in mobile computing, calls for change

post #1 of 77
Thread Starter 
Microsoft's chairman Bill Gates says the software giant hasn't been innovative enough with regard to the new era of mobile computing, saying the company's initial approach was "clearly a mistake."



Asked in an interview with CBS This Morning whether he was happy with Ballmer's performance, Gates said that he and the Microsoft chief executive are "two of the most self-critical people you can imagine," adding that neither is satisfied that the company is doing everything it can to move computing forward.

"And there were a lot of amazing things that Steve's leadership got done with the company in the last year," Gates said listing the CEO's recent achievements. "Windows 8 is key to the future; the Surface computer; Bing, people are seeing as a better search product; Xbox."

Still, given Microsoft's position in the previous generation of computing, Gates is not satisfied with the company's place in what looks to be the future of the industry.

"Is it enough?" the Microsoft chairman continued, "No, he and I are not satisfied that in terms of, you know, breakthrough things, that we're doing everything possible."

He went on to admit that the company didn't "get out in the lead very early" on cell phones. Microsoft had an early start with Windows Mobile, a system that was out for some years before current industry leaders Apple and Google debuted their respective iOS and Android platforms, but ultimately let the competition pass them by.

"We didn't miss cell phones," Gates conceded, "but the way that we went about it didn't allow us to get the leadership. So it's clearly a mistake."

Gates went on to discuss the assorted philanthropic efforts he and his wife have engaged in over the past several years. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the world's largest, has targeted malaria and polio for eradication and has contributed to the fight against AIDS and tuberculosis. In the interview he stressed the importance of innovation not only with regard to Microsoft, but also in terms of fighting disease, improving education, and solving the world's energy concerns.
post #2 of 77

Gates continues to let Ballmer suck from his teet.

post #3 of 77
I picked up a Windows Mobile 6 second hand. It was so bad, after five minutes I wanted to hurl it against the wall. How something that awful could pass through the Microsoft system still amazes me. Don't they use what they sell?

On the other hand, at about the same time I found a Motorola RAZR tolerable, although it did leave me wondering why it didn't include a text editor for note taking. That was a pre-iPhone hint that cell phones needed to get smart, meaning offer user-chosen apps.

We sometimes forget, however, that when the initial iPhone shipped, users were told to be happy with web apps and not to expect apps from third-party developers. I'm still not sure whether Apple was that clueless or whether they were simply faking out their competition until their own developer tools were ready.
post #4 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

"We didn't miss cell phones," Gates conceded, "but the way that we went about it didn't allow us to get the leadership. So it's clearly a mistake."

No one was expecting a radical shift in smartphones fueled by Apple and then Google.

As a result... Microsoft was not only late to the party... they were also ill-equipped to deal with change.

It took them 3 years to come up with their next OS... when they should have begun scrapping Windows Mobile years before.

Who knows... we'd probably still see Windows Mobile today if it wasn't for the iPhone and Android.
post #5 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by Inkling View Post

I picked up a Windows Mobile 6 second hand. It was so bad, after five minutes I wanted to hurl it against the wall. How something that awful could pass through the Microsoft system still amazes me. Don't they use what they sell?

No I think Gates is right. They had every opportunity to take the lead as Windows was ahead of everyone back in the early days. I had an HP Pocket PC and it was decent for the time. But like everything else MS does they were slow to update or improve anything. The Pocket PC was bulkier but much more full featured than the Razor.

 

Microsoft was so clueless to the potential for mobile that they didn't even realize that Blackberry was stealing their enterprise customers until it was too late.

 

It was not until the iPhone was announced that a much better user experience was realized. All the other manufacturers were just caught flatfooted by iPhone.

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post #6 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Scrip View Post

No one was expecting a radical shift in smartphones fueled by Apple and then Google.

As a result... Microsoft was not only late to the party... they were also ill-equipped to deal with change.

It took them 3 years to come up with their next OS... when they should have begun scrapping Windows Mobile years before.

Who knows... we'd probably still see Windows Mobile today if it wasn't for the iPhone and Android.

His comments about not missing the smartphone market while technical accurate are misleading. It's like saying you showed up for fencing class with a badminton racket. Sure, you're technically there but you are in no way ready to play.

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post #7 of 77

The truly sad/silly/sick thing is that it's taken them this long to admit it.

Clueless - Balmers ranting and raving does no good.

Ballmer can't do humble like Bill - rah rah No Compromises ! phht idiot

 

No plan going forward that is apparent. Just lumbering on meanwhile the world is leaving M$ behind. They now recognise it at least.

 

Stock jumps $20 on the back of Bills admission./s

post #8 of 77
As a Linux user, and future Mac user, I hope Ballmer keeps running the company for a long time to come...
post #9 of 77
Originally Posted by RobM View Post

Stock jumps $20 on the back of Bills admission./s

 

Why sarcasm? It might jump 10… 1oyvey.gif

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post #10 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Scrip View Post

No one was expecting a radical shift in smartphones fueled by Apple and then Google.

As a result... Microsoft was not only late to the party... they were also ill-equipped to deal with change.

It took them 3 years to come up with their next OS... when they should have begun scrapping Windows Mobile years before.

Who knows... we'd probably still see Windows Mobile today if it wasn't for the iPhone and Android.

Gates knew exactly what was coming, he knew years ago that smartphones and tablets would be the future of computing. MS squandered a golden opportunity and a big early lead by putting a crappy Windows CE on crappy hardware, and trying to put a desktop OS on tablets.
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post #11 of 77

ha - Yea sorry TS - should have added - Apple falls $20 on back of Gates admission.

post #12 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

His comments about not missing the smartphone market while technical accurate are misleading. It's like saying you showed up for fencing class with a badminton racket. Sure, you're technically there but you are in no way ready to play.

That's why I said "they were also ill-equipped"
post #13 of 77
Correction: if it wasn't for the iPhone, we'd still see Windows Mobile, and Android would look like Windows Mobile because they wouldn't have had the iPhone to copy (see the drastic evolution in Android look & feel before and after the iPhone)
post #14 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post

Gates knew exactly what was coming, he knew years ago that smartphones and tablets would be the future of computing. MS squandered a golden opportunity and a big early lead by putting a crappy Windows CE on crappy hardware, and trying to put a desktop OS on tablets.

Yep... it's unfortunate that they had a 10-year headstart with tablets... but they were going in the wrong direction.
post #15 of 77
Thats what happens to companies that get too big, they become a bureaucracy, people become lazy and uninspired. But Microsoft was really never much of an innovator either. They pretty much copied or stole everything, and most often very poorly, with the exception of the Office Suite, which is way over priced, and the X Box. If they didn't have the intellectual capability to compete they simply bought them out or used their power to squash any perceived completion. It seems Bill has turned into a pretty decent guy since he left, but for the recent failures from Microsoft you can only blame one person, Ballmer. If Microsoft wants to stay relevant Ballmer has to go. I think you will hear this very soon, but in keeping with the Microsoft culture this is something that should have happened years ago.
post #16 of 77
The statement "get out in the lead very early" is quite the most laugable thing I heard in sometime. Obviously Bill could never admit MS never had a lead, so he turned it around and stated that Windows Mobile was out for some years, but failed to mention how really bad a failure it was/is. This is the reason that the competition was able to get in and beat it . However Apple had been effectively developing iOS for some time based on the success of the early iPod and the iPad concept that was turned into a phone first. The differnce is that whereas Apple makes sure a device is really ready to be released and so on. MS tends to release stuff to the market full of bugs and incomplete only to fix it later. Only this time they couldn't get away with it like they had before with their de facto Windows monopoly. The playing field was level in Mobile so Microsoft has to compete based on the merits of its design. Fair to say the Surface debut isn't exactly setting any records and that is putting it generously! Now its too late for MS in mobile and they know it. what they are attmepting to do is go for the corporate market place where they have some leverage because the consumer market is no contest .
post #17 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

No I think Gates is right. They had every opportunity to take the lead as Windows was ahead of everyone back in the early days. I had an HP Pocket PC and it was decent for the time. But like everything else MS does they were slow to update or improve anything. The Pocket PC was bulkier but much more full featured than the Razor.

Microsoft was so clueless to the potential for mobile that they didn't even realize that Blackberry was stealing their enterprise customers until it was too late.

It was not until the iPhone was announced that a much better user experience was realized. All the other manufacturers were just caught flatfooted by iPhone.

You've left Palm out of the picture. They were producing some decent stuff at the time. Better than the early MS offerings. Palm had lots of developers and a wide range of Apps.

But they stood still, and failed to modernise their antiquated classic OS in time. When WebOS arrived it was too late - customers and developers had switched to iPhones & Blackberries.
post #18 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by kevt View Post

You've left Palm out of the picture. They were producing some decent stuff at the time. Better than the early MS offerings. Palm had lots of developers and a wide range of Apps.

But they stood still, and failed to modernise their antiquated classic OS in time. When WebOS arrived it was too late - customers and developers had switched to iPhones & Blackberries.

I think WebOS would've stood a better chance had it been on better hardware. It should have been touch screen only phone, but they compromised and it cost them dearly.
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post #19 of 77
Isn't Gates the idiot that put Ball-hair in charge in the first place? Talk about inmates running the asylum.
post #20 of 77

The only way that MS could truly change their culture would be to create a separate, probably secret startup, helmed by a person with some vision.  Build this shadow company and let it work for 5 to 10 years creating some new and exciting stuff including a new OS with a Windows compatibility layer like Apple did with Classic.  Copy Apple's business model and internal culture as much as possible.  Don't hire anyone from the current MS.  Don't involve current officers or board members either.

 

Then throw the switch and start the wind down of the old MS, slowly killing off all the legacy products that don't measure up.  And retire the old employees who also don't measure up, particularly the marketing and sales divisions.  This would be the only way to reboot MS and save their name.  Trying to change the existing version of the company would never work - too much inertia, too much arrested development.

post #21 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by kevt View Post

You've left Palm out of the picture. They were producing some decent stuff at the time. Better than the early MS offerings. Palm had lots of developers and a wide range of Apps.

But they stood still, and failed to modernise their antiquated classic OS in time. When WebOS arrived it was too late - customers and developers had switched to iPhones & Blackberries.

Thanks for the reminder. The last Palm I owned was Palm 5 which was not a phone. I think by the time Palm actually became a phone Windows was already dominate in that space.

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post #22 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eriamjh View Post

Gates continues to let Ballmer suck from his teet.

 

Eww. And his teet is now apparently dry.

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post #23 of 77
Of course what Gates & Ballmer doesn't or refuses to see is that Microsoft has never really learned how to build a product that is both a) genuinely desired by the customer and b) profitable. All of Microsoft's giant successes i.e. DOS/Windows and Office relied on the sturdy protective walls of monopoly.

From the Chairman to the CEO down to the lowest level of management, no one at Microsoft knows how to run a company in an environment of very intense competition where you have to fight for every sale you make by offering the best value to the customer. NO ONE. The only skill they possess is that of twisting their suppliers and 'partners' arms to extract extremely favorable contractual terms and ramming their lousy products down the throats of customers who had no other choice. Those days are soon, if not already, gone.
Edited by tundraboy - 2/18/13 at 7:25pm
post #24 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by WelshDog View Post

The only way that MS could truly change their culture would be to create a separate, probably secret startup, helmed by a person with some vision.  

 

They've had several groups like that.  The most recent was Pioneer Studios, who came up with the Courier tablet project that had everyone excited.(*)

 

Unfortunately, Gates reportedly said no to it because it didn't mesh into the whole Windows universe, and the group was dissolved.  A loss that shouldn't have happened.

 

As for Windows CE and Windows Mobile, they started back when handheld technology was young, and carried a lot of legacy baggage because of that.  It's why Apple was able to jump ahead... they had no legacy devices to stay compatible with at the time.  Now Apple does, and they're in the same boat of being unable to make too radical a change in display sizes or UI.

 

(*)  Some of the software that the Courier project started with is available for free download from Microsoft Labs.  MS publishes a lot of neat research.

post #25 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by KDarling View Post

 

They've had several groups like that.  The most recent was Pioneer Studios, who came up with the Courier tablet project that had everyone excited.(*)

 

Unfortunately, Gates reportedly said no to it because it didn't mesh into the whole Windows universe, and the group was dissolved.  A loss that shouldn't have happened.

 

As for Windows CE and Windows Mobile, they started back when handheld technology was young, and carried a lot of legacy baggage because of that.  It's why Apple was able to jump ahead... they had no legacy devices to stay compatible with at the time.  Now Apple does, and they're in the same boat of being unable to make too radical a change in display sizes or UI.

 

(*)  Some of the software that the Courier project started with is available for free download from Microsoft Labs.  MS publishes a lot of neat research.

 

MS has alienated the most creative and imaginative engineers and designers. They all left long ago for Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc.   Even if they wanted to change course now, they do not have the people to do it.  All they have left are crack bureaucratic infighters who have no equal in the art of defending your corporate turf but have no clue about how to design and build a product that appeals to the customer.  

 

Adding salt to a festering wound, anyone who does a little digging will find material that describes how bureaucratic and political the work environment at Microsoft is.  Which means the best engineers coming out of college or grad school, the ones who can pick and choose which job offer to take, will avoid Microsoft like the plague.  And they will keep on doing this as long as the guy on top remains the guy on top.


Edited by tundraboy - 2/18/13 at 7:38pm
post #26 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by forangels View Post

Thats what happens to companies that get too big, they become a bureaucracy, people become lazy and uninspired. But Microsoft was really never much of an innovator either. They pretty much copied or stole everything, and most often very poorly, with the exception of the Office Suite, which is way over priced, and the X Box. If they didn't have the intellectual capability to compete they simply bought them out or used their power to squash any perceived completion. It seems Bill has turned into a pretty decent guy since he left, but for the recent failures from Microsoft you can only blame one person, Ballmer. If Microsoft wants to stay relevant Ballmer has to go. I think you will hear this very soon, but in keeping with the Microsoft culture this is something that should have happened years ago.

You are strongly opinionated, but you don't bring much arguments to the table.

Who would MS bring in? Random Leo Apoteker kind of CEO? Funny as he is, Balmer is at least home-bred. He is to Gates what Cook is to Jobs. When he is gone, I hope MS will have new inhouse person to take over. Bringing outsider is likely to make more damage than to help.

In addition. Most stagnation (Win CE, XP, Not-enough-Vista) was done during Gates' last years. While I still respect him in general, I think his mind wasn't in the right place in his last MS years. Maybe he was already more involved in his charity than leading MS. Under Balmer, new good products started coming out. CE got scrapped.

Innovation? Do yourself a favour and google around. Granted, not all MS innovations are consumer-oriented. But saying MS does not/did not innovate is a bit short-sighted.
post #27 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by tundraboy View Post

MS has alienated the most creative and imaginative engineers and designers. They all left long ago for Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc.   Even if they wanted to change course now, they do not have the people to do it.  All they have left are crack bureaucratic infighters who have no equal in the art of defending your corporate turf but have no clue about how to design and build a product that appeals to the customer.

All of them? Care to share a list? We might try to fetch some, if they are available.

Please don't reply with "Everyone knows... (random rabble)". I'd like to see some names, beside Sinofsky and handful other management figures.
post #28 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by tundraboy View Post

Of course what Gates & Ballmer doesn't or refuses to see is that Microsoft has never really learned how to build a product that is both a) genuinely desired by the customer and b) profitable. All of Microsoft's giant successes i.e. DOS/Windows and Office relied on the sturdy protective walls of monopoly.

From the Chairman to the CEO down to the lowest level of management, no one at Microsoft knows how to run a company in an environment of very intense competition where you have to fight for every sale you make by offering the best value to the customer. NO ONE. The only skill they possess is that of twisting their suppliers and 'partners' arms to extract extremely favorable contractual terms and ramming their lousy products down the throats of customers who had no other choice. Those days are soon, if not already, gone.

And... monopoly was reached by nobody wanted them products?

Wouldn't that be neat 1smile.gif
post #29 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by nikon133 View Post
I hope MS will have new in-house person to take over.

 

If someone is going to save Microsoft, it won't be someone currently in-house. The only people left there are bureaucrats, more concerned with protecting their corporate turf than making great product.  No, Microsoft's savior, if such exists, will be someone who left the company years ago out of frustration when Gates/Ballmer killed any and every product idea that did not hew to the "Windows/Office is King" company line.

post #30 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by nikon133 View Post


And... monopoly was reached by nobody wanted them products?

Wouldn't that be neat 1smile.gif

 

Please edit so I can understand what you mean and respond accordingly.  BTW in real life, are you really Steve Ballmer? 1wink.gif


Edited by tundraboy - 2/18/13 at 8:13pm
post #31 of 77
It doesn't take much of a quarterback to point out on Monday all the mistakes that lost the game on Sunday. I have no confidence that either Gates or Balmer can lead the team to a victory in the markets referenced.
post #32 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by nikon133 View Post


All of them? Care to share a list? We might try to fetch some, if they are available.

Please don't reply with "Everyone knows... (random rabble)". I'd like to see some names, beside Sinofsky and handful other management figures.

 

Oh I'll start with the people who were working on courier.  I don't know anymore names, but it's just all the blogs and news items I've been reading the last 7-10 years of people leaving Microsoft to go to Google, Facebook, etc.  You can find them posting all over the net pouring their souls and frustrations out about how badly things are run at Microsoft.  If you just dismiss them as disgruntled ex-employees, then you must ask yourself why are there so many disgruntled Microsoft ex-employees and why are they so vocal?  I certainly don't see that many disgruntled Apple ex-employees blogging about how badly things are run at Apple.

 

Or the internal emails of Microsoft (revealed in the course of some lawsuit) that had one exec (it might even have been Gates) complaining why can't Microsoft build a product like OS-X?  Remember those?

 

And Sinofsky isn't my example of a great product designer.  He was a supremely sharp-elbowed infighter, he was among the people who stifled creativity in Microsoft when he jealously protected Windows and killed anything and everything that threatened it.  I look at him as the main reason the first MS tablet failed, back in what, 2005? (when Gates first proclaimed that the tablet was Microsoft's future).  Sinofsky undermined the efforts of the tablet team when he saw that it was straying from the "Windows/Office is King" company line.  Can you believe that?  Your CEO tells the world the tablet is Microsoft's next frontier and you directly sabotage that project?  And could you believe what Gates did after that?  You are the Chairman/CEO, your underling undermines your publicly declared company goal, and you just let him get away with it?

post #33 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post


Gates knew exactly what was coming, he knew years ago that smartphones and tablets would be the future of computing. MS squandered a golden opportunity and a big early lead by putting a crappy Windows CE on crappy hardware, and trying to put a desktop OS on tablets.

Agreed! It doesn't take Nostradamus to figure out that touch screen mobile computing was going to be huge, and absolutely essential for MS to retain it's market share crown. 

The problem I believe MS had/has is optimisation.

Once mobile processors became fast enough, whoever was capable of fitting a full OS into a mobile device won the show (a bit overly simplistic sure, as there were many factors).  Apple had a massive head start in this department by incorporating UNIX.

This is precisely why I decided to become a Cocoa Developer in 2002.

 

...and it's only just begun, frankly, Microsoft are screwed. Traditional computers will become a niche market, and even that niche (MS's traditional stranglehold ) will get eaten up by Apple and Google due to lack of interoperability with the dominant mobile platforms which MS stands almost zero chance of catching up in.

post #34 of 77
Gates is wrong that MS had the opportunity. They still don't have the opportunity. They clearly have neither the culture nor the talent to implement competitive systems. A company, like an individual, must first be prepared to take advantage of opportunities that might present itself. MS was and is not so prepared.

It's as silly to say MS had the opportunity to get into this market, as to say that a high school dropout missed his opportunity to apply for the neurosurgery fellowship at Johns Hopkins.
post #35 of 77

Anyone remember that MS mock funeral for the iPhone in 2010 when MS had Windows 7 phone release to Master party?

 

How's that working for them now?

 

http://www.engadget.com/2010/09/10/microsoft-celebrates-windows-phone-7-rtm-with-funeral-parade-for/

post #36 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spacepower View Post

Anyone remember that MS mock funeral for the iPhone in 2010 when MS had Windows 7 phone release to Master party?

 

How's that working for them now?

 

http://www.engadget.com/2010/09/10/microsoft-celebrates-windows-phone-7-rtm-with-funeral-parade-for/

ohh - I'd forgotten about that. Nice catch.

I just still can't believe how ignorant, arrogant and stupid they are.

No disrespect meant for 1000s they've employed over the years, some very savvy smart people stifled by dumbass management. Pathetic.

 

Which way to the OS graveyard ?

Any way will get you there if you don't know where you're going.

post #37 of 77

I don't think any company has done more with less impressive products in the history of the world. When Steve Jobs said they have no class, not meaning it in a small way but a big way, I cheered. Decades relying on cash cows and not even innovating on those products. That would make anyone lazy. That's why they missed the internet and mobile computing.

post #38 of 77

Anyone remember using that thing once called a file system, how quaint. I remember even in late 2015 still be forced to locate files 10 levels buried within a hierachical filing system. Yeah grandpa, you will never get it, hey my kids still get a kick out of me saying I still prefer to use my voice. We took the kids down to the computer museum to see one of those old relics called a "desktop computers" which people at the time swore by. Funny how it was replaced by the 2st gen ARM chip in the 2010's. My kids tell me I'm old fashioned fuddy duddy insisting on not have a chip implanted in the back of my skull. I'm so uncool, I just can't figure out how to telepathically use these new fangled interfaces nowadays. I prefer to use my voice to send a message. My kids tell me the telepathic interface developed in the late 50's is 1000's of times faster. What was left of microsoft was bought by Telesoft over 20 years ago as an act of mercy , a drop in the bucket in terms of the capitalization. 

post #39 of 77

Never mind hardware developments.

Fast forward 10 years - I can't see windows being there. I can see MacOS/iOS ( although they're likely to be indistinguishable from each other), I can see Linux distros some of which will develop immensely sometime soon into something joe Blow can use. Android - well god knows what will happen there (could turn into a total shit fight) but likely to be there under a different incarnation.

 

Sunset for Windows.

imo only of course.

post #40 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul94544 View Post

What was left of microsoft was bought by Telesoft over 20 years ago as a tax write off.

tftfy

 

The rest of your post is prophetic - jeez who knows?

cheers

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