Outgoing Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer sees Windows Vista as his biggest regret, admits Microsoft has “almost no share in mobile”, but says the company has a bright future.
Steve Ballmer’s last analysts day was marked by a frank assessment of Microsoft’s weaknesses, but also an impassioned defense of his company’s future potential.
“Today I’m speaking as an investor. You all own Microsoft stock, cheer for it, for God’s sake. We built a heck of a good company,” he said. “We make a ton of money. We’re very proud of that.”
“Windows has some challenges,” he said. “For the first time over the last couple of years, Windows has done something other than just grow.”
Ballmer said to investors and analysts gathered that Microsoft’s focus on getting Windows Vista out the door — the operating system that he called the “biggest regret” during his tenure as CEO — distracted the company from preparing mobile offerings to effectively compete against the iPhone and Android.
“If there’s one thing I regret, there was a period in the early 2000s when we were so focused on what we had to do around Windows that we weren’t able to redeploy talent to the new device form factor called the phone,” said Ballmer.
As a result, Ballmer admitted, Microsoft has “almost no share in mobile”.
“But I’m an optimistic guy, any time we have low market share sounds like upside opportunity to me,” he continued, leading into another pitch on the Microsoft-Nokia deal that is waiting shareholder and regulator approval.
“The Nokia deal is a lot of things,” he said. “One of the things it is, is a way to make sure we can capture the gross margin upside because we’re making most of the investment today, that we need to make even owning Nokia.”
Ballmer didn’t offer much in the way of insight into the progress of the Nokia deal, or the hunt for a new CEO.
Qi Lu, head of Microsoft’s Applications and Services division, however, hinted about Office making an appearance on touch platforms.
“We will bring these apps to Windows devices and also to other devices in ways that meet our customers’ needs and the customer value of those experiences, and in ways that economically make sense for Microsoft, and at a proper timetable,” he said.
Microsoft’s next quarter wraps up in October, and that’s the next time that an update on the Nokia deal and hunt for new CEO will be made available.