Microsoft made mistakes in early mobile strategy: Bill Gates

Tue Feb 19, 2013 12:06pm EST

Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates listens alongside Mexican businessman Carlos Slim (not pictured) during a news conference after taking part in the inauguration of a new research facility at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, or CIMMYT, in Texcoco outside Mexico City February 13, 2013. REUTERS/Henry Romero

Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates listens alongside Mexican businessman Carlos Slim (not pictured) during a news conference after taking part in the inauguration of a new research facility at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, or CIMMYT, in Texcoco outside Mexico City February 13, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Henry Romero

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(Reuters) - Microsoft Corp Chairman Bill Gates said he was not satisfied with the company's pace of innovation over the last few years, and that it had mishandled its early mobile strategy.

"We didn't miss cellphones, but the way that we went about it didn't allow us to get the leadership. It's clearly a mistake," Gates, Microsoft's former CEO, said in a rare interview with CBS.

Gates hedged questions on whether he was happy with Chief Executive Steve Ballmer's performance. He said Ballmer had achieved a lot but that both he and Ballmer were not satisfied.

"(Ballmer) and I are two of the most self-critical people I know," Gates said.

"There are a lot of amazing things that Steve's leadership achieved — Windows 8, the Surface computer, Bing, Xbox. Is it enough? No. He and I are not satisfied that in terms of breakthrough things we are doing everything possible."

Ballmer took over as Microsoft's CEO in February 2000. The company's shares have dropped 45 percent since then.

A former senior Microsoft executive, Joachim Kempin, said in a book he wrote about his time at the company that Ballmer was not the right leader for the world's largest software company but held his grip on it by systematically forcing out any rising manager who challenged his authority.

His criticism echoes that of investor David Einhorn of Greenlight Capital, who called for Ballmer to step down in 2011.

Microsoft has faced criticism for its latest Windows 8 versions for different devices, while its Bing search engine has won only a small market share.

(Reporting by Sayantani Ghosh in Bangalore; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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Comments (2)
XDC wrote:
Lots of amazing things? lol Windows 8? (Thats a laugh) The Surface? (another laughable product that MS is trying to push onto people that do not want touch screen for business) Bing? (rofl their searches are absolutely horrible) Xbox? (it’s only decent product), Zune? (yeah I went there ;P) Internet Explorer? (not in a million years, crashes more than most browsers) Windows XP? (awsome product after bugs got worked out) Windows Vista? (yet another laughable product) Windows 7? (Wanna be Windows XP system that performs adequately, but XP still runs better)

Feb 19, 2013 7:42pm EST  --  Report as abuse
MrLinux wrote:
If it wasn’t for MSNBC making bad videos, trying to make GOP and other people look bad. I would lose business. I have to thank MSNBC for that. I sell everything from smartphones, to tabets, to pcs, which are all linux based, using our linux software distribution. With the MSNBC name. It has given Microsoft bad creditability. My customers have increase 2 fold, both in office platform and gaming area. Our company should hit our estimated 130 billion mark for this year. It’s been fantastic.

Feb 19, 2013 10:46pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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