New LA Clippers owner Steve Ballmer wants team to ditch iPads

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Steve Ballmer may have retired as Microsoft’s CEO back in February and resigned from the company’s board last month, but rest assured that the raging businessman is still loyal to the Redmond-based software giant. For those of you who aren’t sports fans, Ballmer recently purchased the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers and one of his first acts as the team’s new owner is to have the organization cutdown its use of Apple products.

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Microsoft announces new Office for iPad apps including Word, PowerPoint, & Excel

 

Microsoft’s Office suite of productivity apps has long been rumored to be in development for the iPad shortly after the tablet’s debut in 2010. Most notably was The Daily (now defunct) reporting it had knowledge (and screenshots) of Microsoft’s software for Apple’s mobile platform in 2011, something Microsoft was quick to deny was legitimate. Three years and one CEO later, Microsoft is finally ready to play nice with the iPad.

Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s new CEO following Steve Ballmer’s retirement earlier this year, outlined Microsoft’s new cloud and mobile strategy for the company today including full Office for iPad support. Unlike the Office 365 app Microsoft introduced early last year, Microsoft’s new apps today include individual apps for Word, PowerPoint, and Excel.

Microsoft’s Office suite of apps will each be available as a free download, but will require an Office 365 subscription (which offers a 30-day trial) to create and edit documents. Users can still read and present documents with Office for iPad without a subscription. Office documents will rely on Microsoft’s OneDrive service for syncing content.

WordPowerPoint, and Excel are now available on the App Store.

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Microsoft names Satya Nadella CEO as Bill Gates demoted from Chairman to ‘Technology Advisor’

Following the announcement last August that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was out the door as soon as the company could find a new captain to lead the ship, the Board finally announced today that it has found its guy: Satya Nadella.

As part of the changes, founder and former CEO Bill Gates has agreed to step down from the Board and into a new role as ‘technology advisor’. Gates says he will step up his time at the company meeting with various groups and helping with future products at the request of Nadella. Read more

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer calls it quits, will leave within 12 months or when a successor is found

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Screen Shot 2013-08-23 at 3.16.19 PMMicrosoft’s stock is surging, up 8% in pre-market on the news that Steve Ballmer will be vacating the CEO role within the next year.:

REDMOND, Wash. — Aug. 23, 2013 — Microsoft Corp. today announced that Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer has decided to retire as CEO within the next 12 months, upon the completion of a process to choose his successor. In the meantime, Ballmer will continue as CEO and will lead Microsoft through the next steps of its transformation to a devices and services company that empowers people for the activities they value most.

“There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time,” Ballmer said. “We have embarked on a new strategy with a new organization and we have an amazing Senior Leadership Team. My original thoughts on timing would have had my retirement happen in the middle of our company’s transformation to a devices and services company. We need a CEO who will be here longer term for this new direction.”

The Board of Directors has appointed a special committee to direct the process. This committee is chaired by John Thompson, the board’s lead independent director, and includes Chairman of the Board Bill Gates, Chairman of the Audit Committee Chuck Noski and Chairman of the Compensation Committee Steve Luczo. The special committee is working with Heidrick & Struggles International Inc., a leading executive recruiting firm, and will consider both external and internal candidates.

“The board is committed to the effective transformation of Microsoft to a successful devices and services company,” Thompson said. “As this work continues, we are focused on selecting a new CEO to work with the company’s senior leadership team to chart the company’s course and execute on it in a highly competitive industry.”

“As a member of the succession planning committee, I’ll work closely with the other members of the board to identify a great new CEO,” said Gates. “We’re fortunate to have Steve in his role until the new CEO assumes these duties.”

Microsoft’s stock has been flat since Ballmer took over the CEO roll from Bill Gates at the turn of the century. Ballmer has faced increasing criticism lately over the failure of the Surface RT and Windows Phones in a market dominated by Apple’s iOS devices and Android/Google devices. Perhaps his biggest gaffe was laughing off the importance of the iPhone (below).

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Microsoft reorg takes Apple-like approach to increase collaboration between hardware, software, services

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Much like Apple organizes its executive and engineering teams around functions and services rather than specific products, Microsoft is today unveiling its plans to reorganize its divisions and bring together its various hardware and software teams. According to an email sent to employees from CEO Steve Ballmer and published on the company’s website, the move will see Microsoft bring together its separate teams from Windows, Xbox, Office and elsewhere and reassign managers to oversee broader engineering, marketing and finance groups: Read more

Microsoft CEO Ballmer still thinks iPhones are too expensive, opens door to Microsoft doing their own phone

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has been making the rounds following the launch of Windows 8 and Surface, and yesterday he sat down for an interview in Santa Clara with LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman. TechCrunch pointed us to audio from the interview (embedded above), where Ballmer is asked about the role of Windows Phone 8 within the iOS- and Android-dominated smartphone market. Ballmer famously laughed about the iPhone’s high price point back in 2007, but apparently, the Microsoft CEO still thinks iPhones are priced too high. While claiming Android’s ecosystem is “not always in the consumer’s best interest,” Ballmer made a point of mentioning the high cost of iPhones abroad:

The ecosystem of Android is a little bit wild, from an app compatibility perspective, a malware perspective… maybe in a way that’s not always in the consumer’s best interest… conversely, the Apple ecosystem looks highly controlled, and by the way, quite high priced. The fact that we live in a country where almost every phone is subsidized, you may forget it. But I was in Russia last week where you pay $1000 for an iPhone.. you’re not going to sell that many iPhones… The question is how do you get the quality, but maybe not the premium price. A controlled, but maybe not quite as controlled ecosystem.

Reuters also has a quote of Ballmer from an event last night, when the CEO seemed to hint at the possibility of a Microsoft-branded smartphone: Read more

Microsoft’s lost decade, chronicled

In a lengthy piece, titled “Microsoft’s Lost Decade”, Kurt Eichenwald of Vanity Fair profiled CEO Steve Ballmer and his role in the company’s steadily decreasing dominance. The piece includes interviews with current and past executives of the company, thousands of internal docs and legal records, and, not surprisingly, Apple’s role in the decline of Microsoft makes up a large part of the story:

Truly, for senior management, the problems didn’t make sense. Microsoft had some of the smartest people in the technology business. It had billions of dollars at its disposal, and the ability to throw that money into any project the executives chose… Current and former executives said that, each year, they tried to explain to Microsoft’s top executives why the company was struggling in the quality of its innovation compared with Apple… Exhibit A: today the iPhone brings in more revenue than the entirety of Microsoft… One Apple product, something that didn’t exist five years ago, has higher sales than everything Microsoft has to offer. More than Windows, Office, Xbox, Bing, Windows Phone, and every other product that Microsoft has created since 1975. In the quarter ended March 31, 2012, iPhone had sales of $22.7 billion; Microsoft Corporation, $17.4 billion.

One anecdote covered in the story comes from emails that circulated around Microsoft following the introduction of Tiger:
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Microsoft to announce slates to take on the iPad at CES

(I checked the date.  It says today.)  The NYTimes says that Microsoft is going to announce some iPad competin’ Slates at CES:

Next month, at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Microsoft will present a slew of new slates that it hopes will offer some competition to the Apple iPad, which has quickly become the leader in this market.

According to people familiar with Microsoft’s plans, Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s chief executive, is expected to  announce a number of these devices when he takes the stage at C.E.S., showcasing devices built by Samsung and Dell, among a number of other manufacturing partners.

This apparently has been an anual event since 2000. Read more