Microsoft CEO Ballmer talks infected feet, profuse sweating, and Windows Vista

Ballmer: That didn’t go over so well.
Flunky: The reaction seemed about 50-50.
Ballmer: At best.

“That was elevator chitchat overheard by a Business 2.0 reporter and relayed on a blog by the magazine’s Owen Thomas. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer had just emerged from a meeting with analysts in Manhattan last Thursday,” Kevin Kelleher reports for

“Yes, that meeting — the one at which he uttered those magical, market-cap-killing words about the company’s new Vista operating system: ‘Perhaps people are somewhat too bullish,'” Kelleher reports.

Kelleher reports, “There has been a lot of back-and-forth in the days since Microsoft’s CEO said Vista sales could come in below analyst forecasts… A careful reading of the transcript of the analyst briefing provides more insight. For one thing, Microsoft recently started recognizing more revenue up front rather than spread out over time, which creates what Ballmer called a ‘blue bell’ in year-over-year comparisons.”

“When Ballmer talked about Vista sales forecasts, he was ignoring that one-time bump in revenue,” Kelleher reports. “But it’s not clear that the analyst forecasts that he believed were overly optimistic were also factoring out his blue bell. When Merrill Lynch analyst Kash Rangan confronted him with that possibility, Ballmer’s tone grew uncertain, stuttering, as if he realized he may have blundered big time.”

Steve Ballmer: What I basically tried to say in the very highest level was that you shouldn’t think of a huge surge in fiscal year ’08 versus fiscal year ’07, huge relative — I mean, in some senses whatever you think the growth is of PCs in developed markets, in developed markets — because I talked about emerging markets — we should do somewhat better than that. We shouldn’t do that much better, we should do that much better, whatever it means. This is before the accounting one-time blah, blah, blah.

Rangan: That was very good.

Kelleher reports, “I found Ballmer’s diffident tone more discouraging than any single comment of his. Gone is the Ballmer who skipped mightily across the stage, who pumped his fists and shouted ‘Come on!’ … who exhorted the crowd to ‘Give it up for me!’ Instead, he starts off the analyst briefing with jokes about infected feet, infected stocks and profuse sweating.”

More in the full article here.
Like Microsoft’s office chair supplier, we hope against hope that his reign as head buffoon lasts forever, but, seriously, how much time do you think Ballmer has left at Microsoft?

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Ballmer says pirates to blame for poor Vista sales – February 19, 2007
Ballmer calls Apple ‘cute, little tiny niche guy’ – February 15, 2007
Microsoft’s Ballmer warns on Vista, says revenue forecasts too aggressive; shares drop – February 15, 2007
Microsoft CEO Ballmer laughs at Apple iPhone – January 17, 2007
Ballmer: ‘Zune halo effect’ will help Windows Vista – December 06, 2006
PC World’s 13 Most Embarrassing Web Moments: #1 Microsoft CEO Steve ‘Monkey Boy’ Ballmer – November 17, 2006
Ballmer analyzes Microsoft’s One Big Mistake, Vista… er, ‘One Big’ Vista Mistake – August 02, 2006
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Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer: ‘We love to be first’ – January 25, 2005


  1. Microsoft today continues to thrive due to inertia, in that the majority of its revenue and income is due to Windows and Office licenses installed by default on new PCs or paid for in Enterprise Licenses. Given that Ballmer remains Microsoft’s second largest stockholder, I expect he’ll stay around as long as the money keeps coming in. But once that inertia falters, it will mark the beginning of the end of the Microsoft era.

  2. Ah. Now the truth comes out. The real reason that Vista sucks isn’t because the management and staff at Microsoft are incompetent. Rather, they’ve all been distracted for the last five years by their infected feet.

  3. “Microsoft recently started recognizing more revenue up front rather than spread out over time”

    Having just watched the Enron documentary which talks about their use of Mark-to-Market accounting (method of booking anticipated revenue up front rather than spread out over time as it actually comes in), this change sounds rather fishy to me…

  4. Maybe he heard about this:

    In an attempt to boost its sagging fortunes, Dell, one of the leading PC makers in America, recently launched the Dell Idea Storm website to solicit ideas on how to get Dell back to the top. The most popular idea so far? Desktops with pre-installed Linux.


    Specifically, users wanted the top-three free Linuxes — Ubuntu, Fedora, and openSUSE — offered as selections for the Dell desktop. The Linux option was almost twice as popular as the next option. That next option was, by the way, to have OpenOffice pre-installed instead of Microsoft Works or a trial version of Microsoft Office.

  5. Ballmer’s payback is he is stuck using Windoz the rest of his sweaty life.
    The ultimate payback.

    Don’t complain too loudly.
    The longer they keep him in charge, the better for Apple. I don’t think we could have PLANTED a better F### Up into the oppositions camp! Ballmers a dream come true for Apple. C’mon Monkey Boy give us one more dance!

  6. It’s time for the board to take out the gun and shoot him. It’s time to get the deed done.

    Gates will probably step in temporarily while the search is on for a new CEO.

    He is almost the best thing to ever happen to Apple. Vista’s miserable failure to deliver the goods will ultimately be the best.

    Eventually people figure out the difference between shit and shinola, and XP SP3 (codenamed Vista) ain’t shinola.

  7. If Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer both give up control at Microsoft, maybe it has a chance of surviving over the next ten years. Otherwise, Microsoft’s Windows and Office “monopoly” will erode steadily to a point when it can no longer fund its other projects, which are designed to lose money until they magically start to make money in some undefined future. With new leadership, Microsoft definitely still has the resources to turn itself around, but Ballmer getting fired and Gates stepping in as “iCEO” is NOT going to cut it…

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