Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Microsoft's Ballmer Turns to Roundball

Former Microsoft CEO and board member Steve Ballmer took the predictably heavily scripted step of resigning from Microsoft's board to devote his energies to running the Los Angeles Clippers.

CEO Satya Nadella must have been assured that he had free rein to put his stamp on the company, without having to feel beholden to the legacy of Mr. Ballmer, including his restructuring plan and appointing his chief strategy officer before the CEO change.  This move is graceful for everybody involved, and it confirms to the outside world what hopefully was know inside, all along. Good news.

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting article about the new HTC phone with Windows.  It confirms what we wrote about recently, namely Windows Phone 8 (forget that my phone hasn't got the upgrade yet) even in the most basic Nokia smartphone works quite well, fairly intuitively, and comes ready to go, not with every social media app in creation, but with LinkedIn and Facebook ready to go.

So, the schizophrenic market of journalists and self-proclaimed pundits, cry for a "third smartphone ecosystem," while at the same time decrying the Windows Phone effort.  I would understand this if, like other Microsoft ventures, Windows Phone was klugey, bloated, and a resource hog with a UI designed by engineers.  However, it is nothing of the kind. I can use it out of the box, and my phone has the barest bones of a resource base, but Windows Phone 8.0 works just fine, and the Nokia Here maps, which are free, are wonderful because they are downloaded to your phone.  So, what's the deal?

"So, why don't more people give Windows Phone a go? At this point it has very little to do with how good of a smartphone platform it has become, and everything to do with the rule of the masses: It's hard to go one way when everybody else is going another."  I've always enjoyed being out of step with the lemmings, whether in the financial markets or personal technology.  It's cheaper, yields better returns, and exerts less wear and tear on the psyche.  

Sharp, meanwhile, has announced that they are going to develop their own operating system.  Microsoft used to have a "late to the party" monopoly, but really a Sharp mobile operating system?  Maybe Microsoft partnership/business development folks are trying to talk them out of this foolish decision.  

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