The Steve Ballmer farewell tour is officially under way

Microsoft's soon-to-be-ex CEO couldn't leave without sending a final shareholders' letter, full of platitudes and empty phrases

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You can't spell "dysfunction" without "function"

Then there was talk of the latest reorg, number 278 in a series.

The key change we made is deceptively simple but profoundly powerful: Instead of organizing our teams around individual products, we've organized by function, including, for example, engineering, sales, marketing and finance.

I understand they also considered organizing the teams by zodiac signs, but the Geminis and the Cancers refused to sit near each other.

Ballmer goes on a bit about the Nokia acquisition, then there's this curious graph:

Third, in September, we also announced a new segment-reporting framework. We have five new reporting segments tightly aligned with our focus on delivering innovative devices and services for both our enterprise and consumer customers. This framework was designed to give valuable insight into our progress in the key transformations we are undertaking in our businesses to drive long-term growth.

I have no friggin' idea what that means. I'm betting that most shareholders will have no friggin' idea what that means. The question is: Does Balllmer?

High-value icebergs

Of course, he ends on an optimistic note, in the same way the captain of the Titanic would probably also end his letter on an upbeat tick if he had to write one.

As I think about what's ahead, I'm incredibly optimistic about what Microsoft will deliver. We are accelerating as we bring to market Windows 8.1 PCs and tablets with our partners, Surface 2, Xbox One and new phones; advance our enterprise services including Windows Server, Windows Azure, Microsoft Dynamics and Office 365; and innovate on new high-value activities.

What does it all mean? ZDnet's Mary Jo Foley says it's the end of the "PC on every desktop" mantra that has driven Microsoft since its inception and the beginning of full-on schizophrenia:

Microsoft wants to be more like Apple on the consumer and devices front, and more like Google and Amazon on the services front. Those are two different business models. I, myself, am not sure that a single company -- even a "One Microsoft" -- can serve both masters.

But at least for now, Microsoft is moving full steam ahead with its plans to be all things to all users.

Is that another innovative high-value activity on the horizon or an iceberg? No matter, because Captain Ballmer has already made it clear he has no plans to go down with the ship.

Will Microsoft slowly sink after Ballmer disembarks or rise again from the depths? Float your theories below or email me:

This article, "The Steve Ballmer farewell tour is officially under way," was originally published at 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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