The shy and retiring Microsoft CEO Steve "There's a kind of hush" Ballmer has been named one of the world's worst CEOs by the business rag Forbes.
Forbes hack Adam Hartung said that Ballmer was the " worst CEO of a large publicly traded American company today".
Given that there were a fair few that resulted in plunging the world in recession, we would have thought Steve would have had a little more competition from the banks and financial markets.
But according to Hartung, Ballmer singlehandedly steered Microsoft out of some of the fastest growing and most lucrative tech markets and in the process he has sacrificed the growth and profits of not only his company but "ecosystem" companies such as Dell, Hewlett Packard and Nokia.
The reach of his bad leadership extended beyond Vole, Forbes claimed. Microsoft was at its height at $60/share in 2000, just as Ballmer took over. By 2002 it had fallen into the $20s, and has never got above $30 since, moaned Hartung.
Rollouts were constantly delayed, and ended up with products so lacking in any enhanced value that they left customers scrambling to find ways to avoid upgrades, he muttered.
Of course, Forbes had to mention the "Vista" word and Windows 7 and Office 2010 did nothing to excite tech users, in corporations or at home.
Forbes also mentioned Apple and implied that that Ballmer should never have let the Apple religion happen.
In a statement that could have been said a while ago, Forbes moaned that Microsoft, after dumping Zune, dumping its tablet, dumping Windows CE and other mobile products, is still the same company Ballmer took control over a decade ago.
It is about now that we start to glaze over. This is starting to read like an Apple fanboy rant.
" Microsoft is a PC company, nothing more, as demand for PCs shifts to mobile," sort of comments come straight from the Apple hymn sheet. PCs have not died and mobile's success is not dependant on the death of the PC. They appear to be still around, and will be for a long while yet.
Hartung said that it was insane for any CEO to bet the farm on Windows 8. Microsoft would not have had to do that had the Microsoft Board replaced Ballmer with a CEO that understands the fast pace of technology shifts and would have kept Microsoft current with market trends.
Now, to be fair to Ballmer, you could argue that Microsoft's current woes are caused less by him and more by the fact that the world bought into something that was marketed by Jobs. Ballmer and Gates had been pushing tablets for years with very few takers. In fact, even today, tablets are bits of hardware waiting for a function.
Windows 7 was hardly a failure and Microsoft's control over the world's PCs is as dominant as ever. It is true that Microsoft has too much riding on Windows 8, but early indications are that it is a pretty good bet. It is certainly a better one than Jobs made when he tried to release his iPod.
While it is easy to knock Ballmer, at least from a sound proof bunker some miles away, Microsoft was not the only one who failed to spot the mobile thing. Like Gates before him, Vole has a knack of not being cutting edge but cleaning up after all the risks have been taken.