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What Steve Ballmer got right (and wrong): in quotes

Steve Ballmer may be known as one of the more outspoken Silicon Valley chief executives. We look back at some of his best quotes during his 13-year tenure at Microsoft's helm.
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Ballmer on making big bets

Steve Ballmer has over his more-than-a-decade long reign as Microsoft's chief executives seen more disruptive technologies than any other period. In November 2012, he told Forbes that he did a "pretty good job" of avoiding disruption by staying ahead of the curve. He added: 

"The one thing that I think separates Microsoft from a lot of other people is we make bold bets. We're persistent about them, but we make them. A lot of people won't make a bold bet. A bold bet doesn't assure you of winning, but if you make no bold bets you can’t continue to succeed. Our industry doesn't allow you to rest on your laurels forever. I mean, you can milk any great idea. Any idea that turns out to be truly great can be harvested for tens of years. On the other hand, if you want to continue to be great, you've got to bet on new things, big, bold bets."
— Steve Ballmer

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2 of 10 James Martin/CNET

Ballmer on Linux

Shortly after the dotcom bust of 2001, Ballmer dug his claws into Linux, the company's main platform rival, in an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times. He particularly criticized Linux's license, which he claimed forced other programs working on the platform to follow a similar open-source mantra. 

"Linux is not in the public domain. Linux is a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches. That's the way that the license works."
— Steve Ballmer

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Ballmer on the iPhone

On CNBC live in January 2007, knowing that Microsoft had yet to launch its own branded phone, he reacted to Apple's introduction of the original iPhone:

"$500, fully subsidized with a plan?! That is the most expensive phone in the world, and it doesn't appeal to business customers because it doesn't have a keyboard."
— Steve Ballmer

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4 of 10 CNET

Ballmer on shrugging off the critics

Back in 2005, Ballmer sat down with Bloomberg and discussed — among many things — the criticism he faced on an almost-daily basis, particularly from the emerging "blogosphere." He fired back, albeit softly and diplomatically, against his critics.

"We have a great culture that promotes criticism. I think that does fantastic things. We're always looking for everything everyone says to make sure that I'm doing what I need to do, and our leaders are doing what they need to do to continue to push the company to new heights."
— Steve Ballmer

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5 of 10 Long Zheng/Flickr

Ballmer on Apple's products

In March 2009, Ballmer responded to Apple's markup on its products, specifically its desktop and notebook devices. This was at a time where Microsoft's main bread-and-butter was in supplying Windows to PC manufacturers.

"There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance. It's a $500 subsidized item."
— Steve Ballmer

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Ballmer on antitrust matters

Microsoft has seen its fair share of antitrust and anticompetitive problems in the U.S. and EU. In response to the software giant's standing in the worldwide market share, he once said: 

"We don’t have a monopoly. We have market share. There’s a difference."
— Steve Ballmer.

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Ballmer on anger management

After Mark Lucovsky left Microsoft in 2004, it reportedly incensed Ballmer so much that he allegedly threw a chair. And then, according to testimony surrounding another Google ex-Microsoft hire, he said (or shouted) this:

"F**king Eric Schmidt is a f**king p***y. I'm going to f**king bury that guy, I have done it before, and I will do it again. I'm going to f**king kill Google."
— Steve Ballmer

(According to sister-site CNET, he rebutted these claims a year later, "I have never, honestly, thrown a chair in my life.")

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Ballmer on the tablet revolution

Then-Apple chief executive Steve Jobs, back in June 2010 -- months after the iPad was first released -- said at the AllThingsD:8 conference he expected the PC to decline as consumers shifted to tablets. Ballmer in a later interview, thought somewhat differently:

"I think PCs are going to continue to shift in form factor. The real question is: What's a PC?"
— Steve Ballmer

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Ballmer on the economy

In September 1999 when Microsoft's stock was at its peak, Ballmer said not long before the dotcom bust would kick Silicon Valley down a few pegs: 

"There is such an overvaluation of technology stocks that it is absurd. I would include our stock in that category. It is bad for the long-term worth of the economy."
— Steve Ballmer

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Ballmer on the future

In November 2013 at his last Microsoft shareholder meeting, he told one analyst a simple fact that frankly not many chief executives say. Instead, many say they are ahead and at the top of their game. But not one company can maintain momentum forever. Talking about making big bets in order for Microsoft to stay relevant and profitable, Ballmer said: 

"The world is changing, but so is Microsoft."
— Steve Ballmer

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