Steve Ballmer is a God

Don't worry - it's a joke poked at those who see the demise of Microsoft at every turn. It ignores the financial realities along with the investment Microsoft has made in recent years.

...Steve Jobs is the Devil Incarnate.

I have so wanted to pen that headline for a long time but it wasn't until I read Silicon Valley Insider's The Odds Are Increasing That Microsoft’s Business Will Collapse followed by Kara Swisher's slice and dice that I plucked up the courage to write it. I could equally have gone with Steve Jobs is a God, which half of Silicon Valley seems to believe, and that Steve Ballmer is the Devil Incarnate, with which the other half in the Valley might agree. Either way I am on to a home run.

As Kara Swisher so eloquently puts it:

Today, we get yet another from the Olympic champion of traffic-goosing headlines on blogs, Henry Blodget of Silicon Alley Insider, in what is quite a humdinger of a title [as above]

Yes sirree, that's the name of the game - get those page views going. After all, why let the facts get in the way of a good headline that will keep advertisers happy at the bare page view metrics? But to be serious. Kara says:

Microsoft, as all tech companies do, needs to change and a lot faster than it has been; it has been trying mightily to do so in search and, recently, in mobile, where it is woefully far behind; its leadership under Ballmer, who took over from Co-founder Bill Gates, has been meh enough to keep its stock moribund.

But, by no means recently–even if there is a better CEO for Microsoft out there than Ballmer–have I found the company execs ignorant about the tougher issues or unwilling to consider changes needed.

I mostly agree with her sentiment. In recent times, Microsoft has invested billions in new data centers. Anyone bothered to wonder why? Here's one reason:

It is an undisputed fact that Cloud Computing is going to profoundly change the way consumers and enterprises procure and use applications. That is the reason why Microsoft is investing billions of dollars in building ITS OWN state of the art data centers and dedicating tons of resources to build a portfolio of SaaS (Software as a Service) and PaaS(Platform as a Service) offerings. Microsoft SaaS offerings can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/bpos.

Microsoft PaaS offering is called Windows Azure- http://www.microsoft.com/WindowsAzure which is not just for Windows applicaitons. It is designed with portability and interoperability at its core; you can run Java, PHP, Python and other non-Microsoft applications in addition to applications built with Microsoft technologies. Windows Azure is architected to integrate well with the other clouds and on-premise systems through REST based web services and standards based security features.

In summary, at Microsoft we love the potential of cloud computing and its ability to industrialize IT forever!

The tech aficianados will likely pull that piece of unbridled self-pimping to shreds but let's not dispute the fact Microsoft is investing in its future.

On the other hand, I still see instances where Microsoft's idea of contributing to a topical blog is to offer a thinly veiled pitch. Who says the Thought Police at Redmond are dead and buried?

But to the broader topic, Kara correctly points out that it wasn't until Apple had become 'rotten' and brought Jobs back that the company's fortunes took off. IBM needed its own dance with the prospect of extinction before it turned itself around. My sense is that if - and I say if - Microsoft reaches that same point then it won't simply fizzle away in the manner SAI believes. It will go the Apple/IBM way, reinvent itself and return in a new guise and much, much stronger.

In the meantime, it is the Google's of this world that should be concerned. They have their own challenges in making the leap to tech's financial superstardom. While it attempts to land those customers fed up with the cost lock that Exchange imposes, it can still only trickle out win stories. As I said in comments to another piece that talked about Google's decision to dump Microsoft:

...there are shed loads of IE6 out there still, many have skipped Vista/IE7 which leaves deployment options for current releases. But...enterprise deployment is a slow moving animal, even in the most advanced businesses. It is for that reason you're going to see MSFT selling bags of current Win OS/IE8 for years to come.

In all the fun of the tech circus let's not forget there are many millions of customers and companies that have bet the farm on Microsoft, IBM, SAP, Oracle - you know - the usual suspects of so-called yesterday's news grabbing companies. All things cloud may be the topic du jour but Microsoft is far from out of this game. Those who aspire to moving beyond smart headlines would do well to note.

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