An emotional Ballmer bids farewell to Microsoft troops

Outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer gave his final pep talk to employees this week.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

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.

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