An emotional Ballmer bids farewell to Microsoft troops

An emotional Ballmer bids farewell to Microsoft troops

Summary: Outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer gave his final pep talk to employees this week.

TOPICS: Microsoft

After 13 years at the helm of the world's largest software company, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer delivered a final and emotional farewell speech to thousands of employees at a companywide meeting on Thursday.

Ballmer, who announced his retirement in August, was given a standing ovation by 13,000 Microsoft staff at Seattle's KeyArena stadium, according to Reuters, after talking up the company's prospects at overcoming its three-front war against Apple, Google and Amazon.

Microsoft has taken a leaf from each rival's book as it transitions from a software-focused firm to a devices and services company — a plan accelerated under Ballmer by Microsoft's planned acquisition of Nokia's devices and services business.

But Ballmer used his speech to lay out the differences between rivals and Microsoft, which still finds itself fighting as the underdog in cloud, mobile and the web, five years after founder Bill Gates stepped down from the top job.

Ballmer didn't pull his punches, delivering broadsides against Apple for its interest in being "fashionable", Amazon about being "cheap", and while Google was about "knowing more", Microsoft was about "doing more", Reuters reported.

In similar fashion to his emotional farewell at Bill Gate's departure from Microsoft in 2008, the outgoing CEO, on the verge of tears, stressed his belief in its staff and the company's "mission".

"We've been a great company for years. We will be a great company for many more years," he told staff.

Ballmer reportedly closed his speech with Michael Jackson's Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' — the song that was played when Microsoft held its first employee meeting around 30 years ago.

Further reading on Steve Ballmer

Topic: Microsoft

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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  • Did he apologize for the Kin?

    We don't get to read Ballmer's exact speech. Maybe it went like this:

    "I apologize for the Zune. I apologize for both Kin 1 and Kin 2. I apologize for the Courier and the Surface. I apologize for ruining Microsoft's chances in the Post PC era. Now you folk have got to deal with this mess."
    • i hate..

      ...stupid posts like the one that I am replying to!
      • Are you Ballmer? Sorry Steve.

        Just to make up, here are some of the best Ballmer quotes:

        Linux is a cancer.
        The iPhone won't be a big success.
        Developers, Developers, Developers, I love this company.

        Well, he must be a guy of strength because he managed to ram his DOCX document format up the ISO (international standards organisation), and get away with it. He also managed to plant a proxy at Nokia and get away with it.
        • @top36

          Comment is so true....
      • Ballmer's ass licking

        in action?
    • lol that's very conservative of you

      real apology would take weeks to even read it from endless stream of paper and it wouldn't be accepted by any decent pc user.

      let's mention 0,000000000000001% of microsoft sins:

      insulting and threatening home computer users in late 70-is, stealing practicaly everything they sell (dos, office, windows, internet explorer....everything), blackmailing hardware manufacturers since 1980-is till today, creating worst possible graphic shell for dos (yes windows), bribing governments alla round the world, spying on users, allowing usa government to spy on users, making secret deals with usa government to push their own systems as standard, putting hidden code into windows to crash software from competition, using monopoly in one area to create monopoly in another area, destroying initial purpose of java, lying on the court and making fool of judges, bribing usa officials, using forbidden practices to push out netscape, insulting users, insulting developers of other operating systems, bribing news reportes and magazines and trolls on internet portals, badmouthing competition, suing and threatening to sue linux users for so called patent rights, making idiots of users in usa and europe for charging windows 200 $ while charging it 3$ in china....
    • Check the profits made by top tech companies over the last 10 years, genuis

      Microsoft leads the way... but yeah, what a failure Ballmer has been.
      • Re: Microsoft leads the way...

        What they say? Good riddance, Microsoft...
      • what about the next 10?

        Ballmer did make a good profit but at the expense of the company's future. He brought about the brain drain from MS and made some very poor decisions on products, strategies and marketing. Now the company has all but missed the most significant move in computers use since the introduction of the PC. The mobile revolution.
    • I liked the Zune :(

      Was I the only one?
      Joshua Spigener
      • Yes

      • But to be serious

        the Zune was only released in the USA and Canada. The rest of the world never had the opportunity to experience it.
        • Perhaps because...

          Maybe it was only released in the US/Canada because it didn't do too well. Each market would probably require Microsoft to make separate negotiations for rights to media for their store (to say nothing of potential communications regulation differences from country to country). I guess they decided that selling the hardware outside of their neck of the woods wasn't worth it if it wasn't even doing well at home.
          Third of Five
          • Absolutely!

            There can be no other reason for MS not widely distributing Zune than that is was really not very good.
    • Windows 7, Xbox

      Those two things alone rule out the others. It is not like apple has never put out a product that was unsuccessful and only got 10 percent market share or less (Like the Mac). If it were not for Microsoft making Office for mac and a wad of money apple would have not been around to make the iphone. Both companies are important for competition. Back to Ballmer Gates had windows OS that did not take off as well. It is about every third OS is a hit. Now to the Kin, That was just a s@#t no way around that! Lol
  • All the others are more successful Steve

    Trouble is Steve, you fail to mention that companies like Apple, Google and Amazon have made products that were so much more successful. Call them fashionable, cheap or whatever. They are successful and is that not what a company is supposed to do?
  • Standing ovation from 13,000?

    I'll bet it's like the standing ovation that North Koreans give to Kim Jong Il. Clap or get shot.
  • Shame he is leaving

    He is doing a fine job running Microsoft into the ground. He should have stayed on to finish the job....
  • what I fear

    I fear Elop will take over and then MS will never recover.
  • Disappointing

    I was really hoping to hear him apologize for transforming what was once a great company into a shadow of its former self. That would have been the honorable thing to do.
    D.J. 43