I have a low opinion of Microsoft, but even I never saw Microsoft under Ballmer making such a basic blunder as not checking out the trademark for Metro, the most distinctive name attached to Windows 8. Just how dumb is Ballmer?
Seriously. This is business 101. Oh, Microsoft is claiming now that the “Metro de-emphasis is not related to any litigation,” but they're refusing to answer on questions about the Windows 8 Metro name conflicting with the German company name Metro AG. Metro AG isn't talking either. Interesting, huh?
In addition, Microsoft, after years of pushing the Metro brand, is now claiming that Metro was always just a code name. Really? That's news to me; Mary Jo Foley, ZDNet's ace Microsoft reporter; and anyone else who's paid any attention whatsoever to Windows 8.
So here we are, on August 1st, Microsoft released Windows 8 to manufacturing, and the very next day they run away from the brand name they've been building around it for ages. Great timing guys. Could they have picked a worse time to have to come up with a new name for Windows 8's interface?
How, how in the world can any company, any CEO, be so dumb as to get to this point without making sure that they don't have such a vital brand-name trademarked and legally checked out nine ways from Sunday? I really don't understand it.
The signs had been there for a while that Ballmer was the wrong choice for Microsoft. Before this, there was Ballmer's Vista failure; the total lack of Microsoft's growth under Ballmer; over-paying for Skype, and Microsoft's failure to catch the smartphone and tablet markets when they took off. It wouldn't be easy to fire Ballmer, still major Microsoft stock owners have talked about booting him out the door, and this will only give them more reason to boot him out the door.
I mean it's bad enough that Windows 8 is desktop crapware pretending to be a new and improved operating system. But, for all of Ballmer's “Developers! Developers! Developers!” braying we've always known he was a manager and not a tech guy. That's why even Microsoft fanboys are beginning to back off encouraging people to move to Windows 8.
Come on though, trademarks? Branding? This is the kind of thing that any executive worth his pay should be on top of. For a CEO and his staff to totally blow such a fundamental business step is reason enough to throw then out of the executive suite and into the unemployment line.