“The decade since Steve Ballmer took over as chief executive at Microsoft from his Harvard pal Bill Gates has not been kind to Microsoft: The company saw its stock price plummet, it made ill-advised acquisitions, demonstrated poor capital management and suffered a significant loss of market share,” Barry Ritholtz writes for The Washington Post. “The once-dominant software giant lost its way.”

“The firm, considered the mac daddy of technology at one time, missed every major tech innovation of the new millennium,” Ritholtz writes. “The Zune, its foray into portable music players, was an embarrassment. It let Apple gain a toehold on the consumer desktop, which Steve Jobs then leveraged to show consumers a superior alternative to kludgy Windows software… Microsoft failed to recognize the impact of nearly every worthwhile development. It missed the rise of touch-screen technology and the mass appeal of social-networking sites… Perplexed by tablets, it lost more than $1 billion in that venture… It blew its early lead in smartphones by failing to understand their significance. And it certainly never threw the same weight behind them as it did its mainstay PC business.”

“Ballmer oversaw ill-advised acquisitions. He missed the tectonic shifts in technology,” Ritholtz writes. “Gates’s true genius was not as a tech visionary. It was his business acumen in leveraging a monopoly position in operating systems to become the dominant U.S. tech company… Microsoft’s true genius was in its license agreements of MS-DOS (and, eventually, Windows) with PC manufacturers… Microsoft had its deal with the devil: Its lightning in a bottle was not some awesome technology or brilliant breakthrough – it was a clause in a contract that led to an enormously profitable monopoly. It then pre-installed Office in new PCs, creating a second monopoly and billions more in profits… Ballmer oversaw a decade of missed opportunities, and he very well may have hastened Microsoft’s decline. But it might have been inevitable. The truth is that for all its claims of innovation, Microsoft never generated much in the way of profits by innovating. “

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader "Thumper" for the heads up.]