Longtime Microsoft watcher Mary Jo Foley has snagged the last interview with Steve Ballmer before he hits the high, wide, and lonely road to retirement (or whatever) once his days in the big chair are over.
It's a nice piece -- fair, thoughtful, and not at all snarky.
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Enough of that. I think Ballmer deserves a final tribute more fitting to the way the man has lived and ruled Microsoft for the last 13 years: loud, obnoxious, and no holds barred.
Picking Steve Ballmer's greatest moments isn't easy, because there are so many to choose from. Here are a few of my faves, many of them preserved on video.
Ballmer channels Ron Popeil
If you want to see the essential Ballmer in action, you need to go way back to the early days, when he made the following late-night commercial for Windows 1.0 that was played at a company sales meeting back in the mid 1980s before it found its way to the InterWebs.
Windows 1.0: It slices, it dices, it crashes at least three times an hour. Since then, the only thing that has really changed about Ballmer is that he has less hair.
Ballmer compares Linux to cancer
In an interview with the Chicago Sun Times in May 2001, Ballmer noted the apparent similarities between open source software and life threatening disease. To wit:
Linux is not in the public domain. Linux is a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches. That's the way that the license works.
By 2007, though, Ballmer was saying, "I would love to see all open source innovation happen on top of Windows." Apparently cancer isn't such a bad thing after all.
Ballmer rearranges his office furniture
In November 2004, former Microsoft engineer Mark Lucovsky entered Ballmer's inner sanctum to give him the bad news: He was leaving to join Google. In a court deposition over Google's hiring of another former Microsoftie, Lucovsky recounted the event:
At some point in the conversation Mr. Ballmer said: "Just tell me it's not Google." I told him it was Google.
At that point, Mr. Ballmer picked up a chair and threw it across the room hitting a table in his office. Mr. Ballmer then said: "F****** Eric Schmidt is a f****** pu**y. I'm going to f****** bury that guy, I have done it before, and I will do it again. I'm going to f****** kill Google."
Thereafter, Mr. Ballmer resumed trying to persuade me to stay.... Among other things, Mr. Ballmer told me that "Google's not a real company. It's a house of cards."
Granted, the soon-to-be-former CEO has denied violating the civil rights of any inanimate objects. But he's unlikely to win any Man of the Year awards from the National Association of Furniture Manufacturers.