Rails founder: Ballmer has turned Microsoft from 'gorilla' to 'buffoon'

Though Microsoft reigns as king of the software, David Heinemeier Hansson deems Steve Ballmer inept

Steve Ballmer's "ineptitude" has led to Microsoft's transformation from a "gorilla" into a "buffoon," according to Ruby on Rails developer David Heinemeier Hansson.

Hansson's venomous tirade, which appeared in his blog late last week, ignores the fact that Ballmer -- though not as tech savvy as Hansson, Gates, or Steve Jobs -- still runs the company that dominates the software market worldwide. With a target that big, as Hansson demonstrates, it's easy to take potshots.

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"I'm not going to lie. I was never a Microsoft fan. Not even when I was using Windows (that I begrudgingly moved to after the Amiga)," Hansson wrote. "But at least you used to have some awe and respect for the gorilla that was Microsoft. Bill Gates might have been an evil genius, but at least he was a genius.

"Now contrast this to Steve Ballmer -- who's certainly no genius and calling him evil is to belittle evil. He has turned the gorilla into a buffoon," Hansson continued. "And frankly, it's sad. Gone are the feelings of rage (except when they patent-troll people for being Web apps) and left is pity.

"Microsoft is undoubtedly full of very smart people, but as long as they are being run by Steve Ballmer, they're going to be shackled by his ineptitude," Hansson wrote.

Hansson goes so far as to include brief videos featuring Apple CEO Steve Jobs and Ballmer, with Hansson claiming Jobs was lucid and reasoned, while Ballmer was not.

It's true that Microsoft has fallen behind in the mobile space behind Apple and Google and their respective iPad and Android platforms. Despite efforts to compete on handhelds and tablets, Redmond remains mired in the PC world.

But Microsoft has shown an ability to bounce back when caught behind the eight ball before, such when it came out with Windows 3.1 as its answer to the Mac -- or when it finally caught on to the importance of the Internet, subsequently leaving Netscape in the dust (although that little battle got the federal government on Microsoft's case).

Notably, this is not the first time Hansson has belittled what is going on at Microsoft. Previously, he referred to the Microsoft-driven WS-* ("WS star") specifications for Web services standardization as "WS death star." He made the alternative REST technology a critical cog in Rails 2.0.

Hansson's animosity toward Ballmer (and Microsoft as a whole) aside, it should be interesting to watch how Microsoft continues to fare under Ballmer's watch now that formidable challengers like Google, the formerly troubled Apple, and the Linux OS march onward.

This article, "Rails founder: Ballmer has turned Microsoft from 'gorilla' to 'buffoon'," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog.

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