Steve Ballmer's long goodbye: 8 classic moments

We soon won't have Steve Ballmer to kick around, so let's feast on some of his greatest (read: most ridiculous) moments

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Ballmer disses the iPhone

Shortly after the iPhone was introduced in 2007, an interviewer asked Ballmer for his take. He laughs and blurts out the following:

$500? Fully subsidized, with a plan? I said that is the most expensive phone in the world, and it doesn't appeal to business customers because it doesn't have a keyboard, which makes it not a very good email machine.

There's some saying about people who laugh last. I can't remember it exactly. I guess I'll have to ask Siri.

Ballmer compares Microsoft search to a clumsy toddler

At an earlier Web 2.0 chat in 2007, Ballmer is asked how he, as the parent of Microsoft search, would counsel his less-than-athletic young progeny. His response [video]:

I would say, "Hey, you know, you're just three years old, and we've got you in there playing basketball with the 12 year olds. And you know what? You're growing up quick, you're getting better every day, you've got all the potential in the world, and it may take you until you're six or you're seven or you're eight or you're nine or you're ten, but you're gonna dunk, you're gonna dunk on the other guy, some day Johnny."

Well, Johnny is almost 10, and he still can't touch the bottom of the net, let alone the rim. But at least he's tossing up fewer airballs.

Ballmer channels Charlie Sheen

After months of keeping a comparatively low profile, Ballmer emerged to sit down with John Batelle at the Web 2.0 conference in October 2011, where he declared Microsoft was "winning, winning, winning, winning, winning" in the world of cloud apps.

In the same interview he declared that one had to be "a computer scientist" in order to use an Android phone. Last time I checked, Android phones outsold Windows phones by a margin of 22 to 1 in the third quarter. Must be more computer scientists out there than we thought.

Ballmer plays Vista for us

No single product in the Ballmer era has had a more profound, or more negative, impact on his legacy than Windows Vista. So it's instructive to examine how Ballmer's take on it has evolved over the years.

September 2005: "Vista has never been delayed." (By "never," he meant only by about two years -- of course, then it was called Longhorn.)

January 2007: "[Vista] is not only the biggest launch in software history, it's also the broadest release we've ever done.... We're incredibly excited about the products, we're incredibly excited about what it means to our customers, to the PC industry, and we really hit the ground running."

May 2008: "Vista is not a failure and it's not a mistake."

May 2010: Vista "was just not executed well."

September 2013: "The thing I regret most is the, what shall I call it, the loopedy-loo that we did that was sort of Longhorn to Vista."

Uh, yeah. So do the millions who made the mistake of upgrading from Windows XP to Vista. Though, to be fair, Loopedy-loo would have been a better name for it.

When monkeys dance

There is, of course, no more epochal Ballmer moment than the famous clip from 2000, which later became known as the Steve Ballmer Monkey Dance.

Of course "Developers! Developers! Developers!" also comes close.

Despite the fact that this video -- and all its various remixes -- have long since passed into Internet Meme Hall of Fame, watching it never gets old for me. How often do you get the chance to watch the CEO of a company act like a total raving lunatic in public?

In all sincerity, I will miss the big galoot.

What's your favorite Ballmer moment? Post it below or email me: cringe@infoworld.com.

This article, "Steve Ballmer's long goodbye: 8 classic moments," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, follow Cringely on Twitter, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.

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