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Ballmer Indicates Microsoft Becoming More Like Apple

By - Source: Reuters | B 60 comments

Ballmer's letter to shareholders described a company that's more like Apple.

In his annual letter to shareholders, published on Tuesday, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer indicated that hardware and online services will be the company's primary focus after the launch of Windows 8. The message naturally brought comparisons to Apple, and even rekindled the rumor surrounding the company's internally-developed Surface-branded Windows 8 Phone device supposedly launching next year.

"There will be times when we build specific devices for specific purposes, as we have chosen to do with Xbox and the recently announced Microsoft Surface," wrote Ballmer. This is where the Apple reference kicked in, as Microsoft's new approach takes note of the way the fruity rival focuses on an intertwined hardware and software package like the iPhone and iPad.

Microsoft's move to a more closed approach has ruffled the feathers of many consumers, developers and analysts. The Windows platform has always been known to be open to some degree, but the recent inclusion of the company's own storefront within Windows 8 has led many to believe Microsoft may be more controlling as to what is introduced to the new platform, much like the way it regulates Xbox Live.

But Apple's success in the smartphone and tablet market has seemingly pushed Microsoft into taking the same closed path, thus tightening not only security, but the overall quality of the Windows brand. Yet that doesn't mean Microsoft is abandoning its partners – the company will still work with the likes of Dell, Samsung, HP and so on.

However Microsoft's role in the "ecosystem" is changing, Ballmer indicated, and it appears that the company may be moving away from the traditional model of selling installed software. "It impacts how we run the company, how we develop new experiences, and how we take products to market for both consumers and businesses," he wrote. "This is a significant shift, both in what we do and how we see ourselves — as a devices and services company."

Some of the services Microsoft is "selling" to customers includes the Xbox Live network, web versions of its Office applications, access to servers for cloud computing, and more. Surprisingly, Microsoft isn't forcing consumers to pay for its Microsoft Security Essentials suite which currently offers anti-virus, anti-malware and other security features for free to legitimate Windows-based platforms.

In addition to the letter to shareholders, Microsoft's annual proxy filing revealed that Ballmer received a bonus lower than what he received in fiscal 2011. This was partially due to flat sales of Windows, and his inability to ensure European customers that Microsoft offers a choice of browsers other than Internet Explorer.

His bonus was $620K in fiscal 2012, down 9-percent from the year before.

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Top Comments
  • 28 Hide
    thrasher32 , October 12, 2012 1:47 PM
    Is Ballmer on crack? When are they gonna fire this guy??
  • 21 Hide
    eshlil , October 12, 2012 2:07 PM
    Please bring back Mr. Gates.
  • 16 Hide
    axehand13 , October 12, 2012 1:51 PM
    Hmm, I wonder if Linux will become the major operating system now?
Other Comments
  • 28 Hide
    thrasher32 , October 12, 2012 1:47 PM
    Is Ballmer on crack? When are they gonna fire this guy??
  • 14 Hide
    JamesSneed , October 12, 2012 1:49 PM
    Makes sense to me as long as this doesn't make its way into the desktop or server markets. Windows 8 is already stepping this closed approach into the desktop market more than I would like.
  • 15 Hide
    zorky9 , October 12, 2012 1:50 PM
    "His bonus was $620K in fiscal 2012, down 9-percent from the year before."

    awww... poor Stevie..
  • 16 Hide
    axehand13 , October 12, 2012 1:51 PM
    Hmm, I wonder if Linux will become the major operating system now?
  • 16 Hide
    tburns1 , October 12, 2012 1:55 PM
    I love how every picture of him we see makes him look like a crazed whacko.
  • -8 Hide
    headscratcher , October 12, 2012 2:00 PM
    Maybe I am having a 1984 moment, but dammit, I like Steve Ballmer.
  • 15 Hide
    mousseng , October 12, 2012 2:00 PM
    Quote:
    Hmm, I wonder if Linux will become the major operating system now?

    I doubt it. It may gain some popularity with gamers/enthusiasts over the next few years (with Steam coming to Linux), but I really doubt it'll ever become a major player on desktops.

    Quote:
    I love how every picture of him we see makes him look like a crazed whacko.

    You make it sound like he's not...
  • 13 Hide
    bejabbers , October 12, 2012 2:02 PM
    Definitely sticking with Windows 7 now. Hopefully they'll see the error of their ways and the OS release following windows 8 will be back on track with how most people use a desktop... with a mouse and keyboard and not touchscreen.
  • 7 Hide
    zaxe63 , October 12, 2012 2:03 PM
    Its looking more and more like its time to dump anything that is Microsoft. Widows 8 looks like trash; they took a step backwards when they decided to look like every other system out there.
  • 21 Hide
    eshlil , October 12, 2012 2:07 PM
    Please bring back Mr. Gates.
  • 8 Hide
    jonmann , October 12, 2012 2:11 PM
    viva la linux
  • 4 Hide
    Anonymous , October 12, 2012 2:16 PM
    If Microsoft brands a laptop, I hope that they at least put 2 thunderbolt ports on them, and keep the HD graphics drivers updated! Also, if branding a laptop means that all the OEM's crappy system software is removed and/or improved and integrated into the Operating system, such as hot keys, and wifi/bluetooth on and off, then fine by me! I have one Laptop whose function keys only work part of the time, dew to the lack of OEM support for updated software, and this goes double for Intel HD graphics driver updates to OEM customizied HD graphics drivers!
  • 4 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , October 12, 2012 2:23 PM
    Please hire me. I am a patent lawyer...
  • 4 Hide
    halcyon , October 12, 2012 2:25 PM
    Apple has done it correctly in the past, and so has Microsoft...but they're both slipping. ...and MS, with products like Windows 8, is not comparing favorably with Apple. I'm sure it'll do better than Vista in the market but they need to work on their marketing and how this change is better than what came before instead of letting customers just fill in the blanks. Things like that are why MS is not like Apple, IMO.
  • 14 Hide
    COLGeek , October 12, 2012 2:27 PM
    If you don't like the direction M$ is going, then vote with your wallet and seek other options. That is the only sort of feedback M$ understands.
  • -2 Hide
    Anonymous , October 12, 2012 2:31 PM
    As far as Microsoft and Apple controlling the operating systems on their branded hardware the DOJ and courts should make them offer users the choice of dual booting/installing over, the windows or Apple OS, with Linux or other operating systems! This may be good for Linux, as the OEM's that are in direct competition with a closed Microsoft and Apple ecosystem, may begin to support an industry standard version of Linux!
  • 6 Hide
    alidan , October 12, 2012 2:59 PM
    moussengI doubt it. It may gain some popularity with gamers/enthusiasts over the next few years (with Steam coming to Linux), but I really doubt it'll ever become a major player on desktops.You make it sound like he's not...


    microsoft doesn't have as strong a foothold as they use to.
    linux use to be command line only, and made it nessassary to know the innerworkings of the os to install anything. now... its closer to windows than windows 8, in some distros.

    gamers move to linux, software developers take a bigger intrest.
    software takes a bigger interest, oem computers think why put microsoft on it?
    oems start using linux as a system line, businesses start looking at it and wonder "why pay 1-300$ a computer for microsoft when everyone uses linux"
    businesses use linux, pro software decided to move to it also
    and microsoft dies.

    this could happen over the coarse of 10 years.
    more people use linux now than they use to use mac oses pre iphone.

    i really see this as a possibly if the next windows doesn't return to a desktop friendly layout as a default.
  • 4 Hide
    itsnotmeitsyou , October 12, 2012 3:03 PM
    As long as they don't tell me what software I can install, I see no problem with them making their own hardware. Google does the same with their phones and android. It gives you an option for primo hardware minus all the bloatware.
  • 0 Hide
    MotherFerJones , October 12, 2012 3:03 PM
    Have you seen the ad for surface, it kinda makes me want one lmao, its a good ad, as for the device itself, ill wait a month and see.
  • 4 Hide
    azraa , October 12, 2012 3:03 PM
    Excuse, decent people of this forum, but I cannot hold down on this one, even though I read the whole article.

    THIS IS BULLSHIT!!!!!!!

    Rant made, I take my leave.
    Thank you.
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