Steve Ballmer Says Windows Vista Was His Biggest Mistake

In a recent interview with current Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, he was asked to name his biggest regret during his tenure. The answer? Longhorn, AKA Windows Vista. He said that was the single biggest mistake in his 13-year CEO tenure. Windows Vista wasn't a great product, he admitted, and it took five to six years to ship. Then the company had to fix the platform by releasing Windows 7.

"What we wound up with [was] a period of let's say seven or eight years where we had the A-team -- not all of the A-team but a bunch of our best people -- tied up not driving," he said. "We did not make years progress in eight years, and there were other things those people could have been working on, [like] phones."

Ballmer said that he takes full responsibility for the Longhorn situation. And the mistake wasn't just an executional mistake, but a technical strategy mistake that Microsoft tried hard to fight off. The company started out with the wrong technical approach, the wrong cadence and the wrong focus by the company's tech leadership.

"I'm willing to admit when I first started as CEO is probably when I made my biggest mistake. And a lot of what we've been doing in just the last five or six years is really catching back up from the mistake that really you could say I made with Bill and Jim Allchin earlier in my CEO days," Ballmer said.

Ballmer also talked about his regrets regarding the amount of time it took to make money from the Xbox. The original console made its debut in 2001, followed by the Xbox 360 in 2005. Up until around 2010, the company reportedly did not make a single dime from console sales. Still, the company made the right move by jumping into the gaming industry.

"But what you're trying to do is make money for the long run, not the short run," Ballmer said. "So I feel bad about how we got here on Xbox, but we've built a heck of an asset. And could we have built it a little cheaper, yes. But we built it. We weren't swayed from building an important asset."

To read the full interview, head here.