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Steve Ballmer Signs a Macbook – How About the Apple Tablet?

Legend says Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer got really angry last year at an internal Microsoft event, when he saw an employee taking his pic with an iPhone- he grabbed it, pretended to stomp it and made fun of the employee (is he still an employee?) .

Well apparently he is more tolerant with outsiders, in fact may even have developed a sense of humor… watch this video showing Steve Ballmer as he signs a student’s Macbook:


Now that he warmed up to it, I wonder if he’ll go on stage and sign the Apple Tablet Steve Jobs is about to unveil?

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Why Windows 7 Will Be a Success, Whether Good or Not

BallmerWin7 Windows 7 hasn’t even arrived yet but the speculation started: What’s wrong with Windows 7.  To be fair, the speculation is fueled by an unlikely source: Steve Ballmer himself.  He is trying to manage a potential fallout by warning us:

“’The test feedback (on Windows 7) has been good, but the test feedback on Vista was good,’ Ballmer, 53, said in an interview last week. ‘I am optimistic, but the proof will be in the pudding.’”

Indeed. But I actually think Windows 7 does not even have to be good to be a success (and my readers know I am not exactly a MS-fan). Here’s why:

  • Vista was such a disaster, that everyone will be happy to escape it.  Says Walt Mossberg: In just two weeks, on Oct. 22, Microsoft’s long operating-system nightmare will be over.  Yes, we’ll be happy to leave that nightmare behind, even if we got raped in the process (had to pay ransom to get out of a failed OS)
  • Those who avoided Vista (smart decision), and that includes most of Corporate IT  are on a good but ancient WinXP, which will be phased out eventually, so the only choice is to go ahead with Windows 7.

In other words, this OS does not have to be particularly good.  This is it, the World will adopt it.  And if it turns out to be another dud (which I doubt)  well, we will have a few years to ponder why keep on buying software ( and that includes Office and more) from a company that hasn’t been able to produce a decent OS in a decade.

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Mike Arrington Spit-Attack – He Joins Elite Company

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Michael Arrington

Image by jdlasica via Flickr

Disturbing news this morning: TechCrunch Founder Mike Arrington was about to leave the DLD Conference (hey, Eran, where’s your review?) when a stranger approached him, deliberately spat in his face and disappeared in the crowd.

This is as lowly as it gets. It’s also very cowardly.  TechCrunch covers a lot of companies and people, some positively, some negatively, others not at all, which can hurt… and Mike does get occasionally abrasive, but does not go into personal attacks.

Anyone who has issues with Mike him can bring it up publicly, in a civilized manner. With zero barrier of entry to blogging, Twitter..etc there is no excuse not to do so.

Mike Arrington is now taking some time off, not only because of the spit-attack, but also to reflect on earlier threats on his and his family’s life and security.

What happened today is a despicable act, not to be taken lightly.  I am not making fun of it either … but perhaps to cheer Mike up, I must point out that he is now in a Very Elite Club, where his fellow members are none other but Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer. 

We probably all remember how Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer received the egg treatment in Budapest last year:

 

But I suspect some of my readers are too young to recall that ten years before the Ballmer-incident, Microsoft Founder Bill Gates received a full cream-pie in his face on a visit to Belgium:

 

(Cross-posted from CloudAve. To stay on top of Cloud Computing news, analysis and just our opinion, grab the CloudAve Feed here.)

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Microsoft’s Aborted Baby: the First Web-Office (Almost)

The transition of power from Founder to Successor is never smooth. If there’s one company that planned it carefully and has been on the path of smooth execution, that’s Microsoft. Life-long friendship, 8-year-long transition – yet things got bumpy at times, especially in the early days. The Wall Street Journal runs a story with rare insight into some of the difficult times:

Things became so bitter that, on one occasion, Mr. Gates stormed out of a meeting in a huff after a shouting match in which Mr. Ballmer jumped to the defense of several colleagues…

The conflict between the two men paralyzed business-strategy decisions that the company still wrestles with today.

The two men clashed as Mr. Ballmer tried to assert himself in his new job. As the firm’s iconic leader, Mr. Gates still held sway that wasn’t tied to a title: In meetings Mr. Gates would interject with sarcasm, undermining Mr. Ballmer in front of other executives, Mr. Gates and other Microsoft executives say.

Two worked out their differences in 2001, when Founder Bill Gates realized he himself needed to change: having formally relinquished the CEO title to Steve Ballmer, he had to let him lead without constantly being challenged, overshadowed.

But let’s turn back to our angle here, how Microsoft could have been a very early SaaS pioneer:

In one case, two vice presidents clashed over the future of NetDocs, a promising effort to offer software programs such as word processing over the Internet. The issue: Because NetDocs risked cannibalizing sales of Microsoft’s cash-cow Office programs, some executives wanted NetDocs killed.

Messrs. Gates and Ballmer were unable to settle on a plan. First, NetDocs ballooned to a 400-person staff, then it got folded into the Office group in early 2001, where it died.

Fascinating. Eight years later web-based products still threaten to cannibalize Microsoft’s cash-cow, but they can no longer be ignored – largely because of Google and Zoho which now offer viable alternatives to users formerly “stuck” with Microsoft’s products. A costly debate, indeed.

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Steve Ballmer Receives the Egg-treatment in Budapest

Just as soon as the Microsoft CEO started his speech at the Corvinus University (my Alma Mater), a protesting student wearing a “Microsoft=Corruption” shirt stood up and threw eggs at the Microsoft CEO. Not exactly a sign of the famous “Hungarian hospitality”.

(If your feed does not show embedded videos, please click through to watch it in the blog.  Update: Originally I had the index.hu video here, but as it started to slow down, I uloaded it to youtube and am now embedding the youtube version.  A day later this vid received over 223K views)

On second thought, perhaps it was fair enough. After all, his boss, Bill Gates received a full cream-pie in the face ten years ago in Belgium – Ballmer only got some of the ingredients. smile_tongue

Another ironic moment comes at 0:38m in the video: as other students stand up to give way to the departing egg-thrower, the camera closes in on one of them holding up his shiny Apple – and not the pie variety.

Update: The search is on for Ballmer’s replacement.

Another video from a different angle, and it ends with the Gates Pie Scene.

Update#2: OK, enough of the fun part. As the story circulates people start wondering what may be the background, and since the only sources are in Hungarian, here’s a summary of the circumstances:

A Hungarian Government bid, worth $25B Hungarian Forints, roughly $157M was allegedly skewed towards MS. (A ‘competitive’ bid with wording that all but ensures only Microsoft meets the requirements.) A Hungarian Watchdog Body (sort of like the FTC in the US) challenged the bidding process via the Court system, and a trial date was set for today. The trial was suddenly and unexpectedly rescheduled just as Ballmer arrived in Budapest. So there may be a perception of the Bully lobbying there.

That said, they could have protested with banners, without eggs. Or displaying more of those flashy Macbooks.smile_wink