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

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
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.
«134

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 76
    eriamjheriamjh Posts: 1,137member


    Gates continues to let Ballmer suck from his teet.

  • Reply 2 of 76
    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.
  • Reply 3 of 76
    "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.
  • Reply 4 of 76
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member

    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.

  • Reply 5 of 76
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    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.
  • Reply 6 of 76
    robmrobm Posts: 1,068member


    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

  • Reply 7 of 76
    ruel24ruel24 Posts: 432member
    As a Linux user, and future Mac user, I hope Ballmer keeps running the company for a long time to come...
  • Reply 8 of 76


    Originally Posted by RobM View Post


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



     


    Why sarcasm? It might jump 10… image

  • Reply 9 of 76
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,984member
    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.
  • Reply 10 of 76
    robmrobm Posts: 1,068member


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

  • Reply 11 of 76
    solipsismx wrote: »
    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"
  • Reply 12 of 76
    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)
  • Reply 13 of 76
    dasanman69 wrote: »
    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.
  • Reply 14 of 76
    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.
  • Reply 15 of 76
    paul94544paul94544 Posts: 1,027member
    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 .
  • Reply 16 of 76
    kevtkevt Posts: 195member
    mstone wrote: »
    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.
  • Reply 17 of 76
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,984member
    kevt wrote: »
    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.
  • Reply 18 of 76
    Isn't Gates the idiot that put Ball-hair in charge in the first place? Talk about inmates running the asylum.
  • Reply 19 of 76
    welshdogwelshdog Posts: 1,694member


    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.

  • Reply 20 of 76
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member

    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.

Sign In or Register to comment.