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Microsoft Corp. has clearly become a different company under the tenure of Steve Ballmer. Quite naturally, there were ups and downs at the company while Mr. Ballmer was at the helm. As it turns out, the retiring chief executive officer of Microsoft recognizes his mistakes and even admits his main one: the code-named Longhorn product that was cancelled in favour of Windows Vista.

"When I look at it and I say, okay, what is the thing that I did that I feel – that I regret the most, not just in my CEOship but my whole time here, it is absolutely ‘Longhorn becomes Vista’. That was the single biggest mistake I made. Why? Not only because the product was not a great product, but remember it took us five or six years to ship it. Then we had to sort of fix it. That was what I might call Windows 7,” said Steve Ballmer in an interview with web-site.

One of the key issues in “Longhorn becomes Vista” situation was that Microsoft had to cut a lot of useful features and technologies from the final product just in order to ship it on time. For example, Microsoft had to give up WinFS file system and sacrifice multiple innovations that were tightly connected to it.

Yet another problem with Windows Vista was the fact that it was not precisely focused on anything specific, moreover, eventually it turned out that the Longhorn just was a too complex project to implement it at once. Ultimately, neither Windows Vista nor Windows 7 were suitable for emerging market of media tablets.

“It wasn't Bill Gates' thing and it was not Jim Allchin's thing and I did not get it. When I look back and I say it was sort of a focus issue, because we were not focusing on what we needed for engineering cadence, bite-size approach, what was the big bet that that represented. I am willing to admit when I first started as CEO is probably when I made my biggest mistake. And a lot of what we've been doing is just the last five or six years is really catching back up from the mistake that really you could say I made with Bill and Jim Allchin earlier in my CEO days," said Mr. Ballmer.

By making a bet on Longhorn in particular and personal computers in general, Microsoft spent years creating a high-end operating system without actually releasing it and without offering competitive ultra-mobile platforms for quite a while. By contract, its arch-rivals – Apple and Google – were designing their iOS and Android operating system for mobile devices.

“What we wound up with (was) a period of let's say seven or eight years where we had the A-team – not all of the A-team but a bunch of our best people – tied up not driving. We did not make years progress in eight years, and there were other things those people could have been working on, (like) phones,” concluded the outgoing CEO of the world’s largest software developer.

While it is obvious that it will take years before Microsoft starts to feel itself comfortable on the market of ultra-mobile computing devices, there are things that Mr. Ballmer can be proud of: Xbox, Windows for enterprise uses, cloud services, business discipline and, of course, doubled profits and tripled revenues.

Tags: Microsoft, Windows, Vista, Longhorn, Windows 8, Windows Phone


Comments currently: 33
Discussion started: 12/18/13 01:07:32 AM
Latest comment: 12/19/13 09:20:54 AM
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0 4 [Posted by: Zimanodenea  | Date: 12/18/13 01:07:32 AM]
- collapse thread

Check out It allows you to remove the show desktop button. It bugged me too
0 0 [Posted by: eleman  | Date: 12/18/13 02:07:29 AM]
Thanks, will try this when I next install win7/win8
0 0 [Posted by: Zimanodenea  | Date: 12/18/13 09:20:05 AM]
You stopped using 7 for something that usually most people totally forget that it is there? WTF?......LOL?
2 0 [Posted by: john_gre  | Date: 12/18/13 03:50:24 AM]
I told you it was petty
0 0 [Posted by: Zimanodenea  | Date: 12/18/13 09:09:32 AM]
It does sound petty, and I'm sure it's not the real reason. Nobody is jumping an OS for that unless they have other reasons to make the move. Perhaps calling it the final straw would be more accurate.
2 0 [Posted by: ET3D  | Date: 12/18/13 04:28:54 AM]

Nope, your biggest mistake EVER is Windows 8. I mean Vista is BEAUTIFUL, GREAT, WONDERFUL, A DREAM, compared to Windows 8. But you can't say the truth here because Windows 8 is still selling(is it?). On the other hand, who cares about Vista? It is dead anyway.
4 3 [Posted by: john_gre  | Date: 12/18/13 03:47:25 AM]
- collapse thread

No it isn't. Vista was a mistake for the reasons Ballmer stated, taking lots of time and resources and still ending up a cut down version with a lot of technical problems. As an OS it was okay and a good move forward, it just wasted a lot of Microsoft's time.

Windows 8 on the other hand suffers from only one thing, an annoying desktop interface, and that's pretty easy to fix. It didn't waste Microsoft's resources, since it's technically a good OS, and the interface itself is necessary for tablets. All that's needed is a little massaging to make desktop users happier, and there are cheap and free utilities which do that.
5 4 [Posted by: ET3D  | Date: 12/18/13 04:37:39 AM]
Windows 8 has been a big failure on desktops and laptops. there is no denying that the one for all method they tried to push downs peoples throats backfired big time. modern ui wasn't the only failure a lack of a start menu on windows 8 was as big of a failure if not bigger then modern ui. so much in fact that ms has decided to put the start menu back on in windows 8.2 next year.
5 2 [Posted by: SteelCity1981  | Date: 12/18/13 05:18:35 AM]
Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8. If you change the name from Vista to 7 and make desktop the default option on 8, I wonder how much different those 3 are in reality. I don't count here any changes that are normal because of time, for example different versions of IE or DX, or better support for multicore cpus.
Windows Vista was just too heavy for the hardware we had back then. So it was looking really slow and bloated compared to XP. It wasn't a bad OS. Windows 7 is more like Vista with a new name, a service pack and with better timming in the market(better hardware to support it).
But 8, 8 is a very different case. It is maybe a Windows 7, upgraded Windows 7, but with a HUGE FLAW. It forces you to use a desktop OS on a desktop like it is a tablet. Microsoft thought that if it forces people who use desktops and laptops to learn to use it's idea about how a touch interface should be, people would start buying Windows phones. Well, THIS IS the BIGGEST MISTAKE Balmer did. People not only didn't learned to use Metro and start buying Windows Phones, people learned to HATE Metro and avoid not just Windows Phones but Windows 8 also. I have a copy of 8, I even download a copy of 8.1. I tried, I really tried the 8, I never bothered to try 8.1. I mean it only takes space in my hard disk as an ISO. I know people who use Windows 8, but most people just gone back to 7. To have people to hate Windows and at the same time don't be Linux or Apple funs, is an achievement that even Linux comunity couldn't archive the last 15 years.
3 2 [Posted by: john_gre  | Date: 12/18/13 05:31:52 AM]
I use W8 with both desktop and metro screens all the time. Never really considered it noticeable, let alone "horrible". Don't have touch screens, but W8 works beautifully with my high DPI mouse.
0 1 [Posted by: basroil  | Date: 12/19/13 01:44:31 AM]

Balmy Balmer might say vista was his greatest mistake but history will villify him for ever for the shite that is W8/8.1, not to mention letting apple/android take over the mobile world
2 0 [Posted by: alpha0ne  | Date: 12/18/13 04:13:40 AM]

I did not get it

That pretty much sums up your whole time as CEO of Microsoft. If Vista was your biggest failure. Windows Phone would be your 2nd biggest failure followed by Windows RT to be your 3rd biggest failure and Windows 8 to be your 4th biggest failure. So you just didn't make one big failure you made several big failures as CEO.
4 0 [Posted by: SteelCity1981  | Date: 12/18/13 05:15:18 AM]

He still doesn't learnt his biggest mistake the WINDOWS 8.
3 2 [Posted by: tks  | Date: 12/18/13 06:56:13 AM]

Things could have been much different if Ballmer wasn't doing so much coke at the time.
0 2 [Posted by: linuxlowdown  | Date: 12/18/13 08:41:13 AM]

I had used Vista since SP1 came out and had no problems whatsoever. Switched to WIn 7 in 2011.
Win 8 is the biggest mistake, because it is not a desktop OS.
2 2 [Posted by: Harry Lloyd  | Date: 12/18/13 10:02:56 AM]

That's the wonderful thing for Microsoft. There is no competitive OS against Windows people can turn too so Microsoft can easily experiment as they please. Remember what happened to Xbox One's specs after PS4's famous announcement. If it wasn't for the competition, Microsoft would have released Xbox One with DRM, always on, etc.
1 0 [Posted by: ChiliBean  | Date: 12/18/13 10:38:49 AM]

Ballmer is not fit to captain a dinghy, and there ain't no hate like the hate for the 8. On the productive desktop, 7 will be known as the last M$ OS, as the entire enterprise market moves to the open industry standard ISO approved type Linux distro/s, these big players in the server market, as well as the large enterprises/SMBs/MOM and POP, will begin to switch. Google, Facebook, and others, will begin to fund research Chairs, and linux programs at major universities around the world. The city of Munich has just completed a shift to Linux. Now the City of Munich stands to save millions, and as other German Cities come to Munich to see how it was done, Munich and its programming community can help. Critics complain that this has come at great cost to the city financally, but Munich could offer other cities their software and working software systems, and request the other cities offer a one time fair contribution, based on city size, to help defray Munich's orginal development costs, afterwards the Munich city developed application software would be free and clear, and the participating cities could pool their resourses coop style to maintain, for the good of all the cities, this software base. Munich could very quickly amortize these development costs, and through partnering with other cities in the future save on its recurring software costs/ future development costs.

1 2 [Posted by: BigChiefRunAmok  | Date: 12/18/13 12:08:16 PM]

Like most folks at Microsucks...BULLmer is an ass clown.
2 3 [Posted by: beenthere  | Date: 12/18/13 01:07:03 PM]

Of course M$ is still in the process of looking for a new CEO, so in time expect the HR folks at M$ to release a recruiting video! Yes a Ballmer and Gates musical recruiting video:

-----------We just need a wooden boy!
-----------A little wooden boy!

Of course M$ will screw up this wooden boy's nose mod, resulting in, after he is asked by the press if Ballmer will still be pulling the stings from the boardroom, his nose growing 10,000 times its normal length and pinning the new M$ CEO to the backdrop!

0 1 [Posted by: BigChiefRunAmok  | Date: 12/18/13 06:05:39 PM]

Neh. Vista is nothing compared to Win 8 and/or XBone. Common! Or even those ubber expansive, useless Windows RT tablets ))
0 1 [Posted by: TAViX  | Date: 12/18/13 06:22:22 PM]

Mr Ballmer can't say Windows 8 is a failure, because Microsoft is trying to sell it right now.

It's obvious Mr Ballmer has been ousted, and there is every reason to believe that he would not have been shown the door if Windows 8 had been a commercial success.
2 1 [Posted by: BernardP  | Date: 12/18/13 09:50:48 PM]


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