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

Steve Ballmer is not dead. But he has released his final letter to shareholders, and it captures much of what I've said and felt about the man who's been the head of Microsoft for too damned long.

I assume there will be a few more Tourette's-fueled outbursts before he's through and possibly a re-enactment of the monkey dance. But Ballmer's last letter to shareholders is perhaps our final chance to appreciate the fine art of bull from the Picasso of fear, uncertainty, and doubt.

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Home is where the heartburns

First, we see some emotion from the big galoot. You can almost see him tearing up as he types:

This is a unique letter for me -- the last shareholder letter I will write as the CEO of the company I love. We have always believed that technology will unleash human potential and that is why I have come to work every day with a heart full of passion for more than 30 years.

I thought that was just acid reflux from too many Taco Bell chimichangas. Nope, it's pure unadultered passion.

Smartly, Ballmer quickly lists his accomplishments. Once again Microsoft has brought home more money than the Mafia, pulling in close to $80 billion in revenue. Even I have to admit the one thing Ballmer is really good at (besides FUD) was generating greenbacks. OK, three things if you include sweating. But then he goes and ruins it:

We brought Windows 8 to the world; we brought consistent user experiences to PCs, tablets, phones and Xbox; and we made important advancements to Windows Server, Windows Azure, Microsoft Dynamics and Office 365.

Hey, a consistently awful user experience is still consistent. Right?

In July 2013 we announced we are rallying behind a single strategy as One Microsoft. We declared that Microsoft's focus going forward will be to create a family of devices and services for individuals and businesses that empower people around the globe at home, at work and on the go, for the activities they value most.

(Note: Emphasis is his.)

I'm confused -- hasn't that been the strategy (a long outdated one, in my humble opinion) for the last 37 years? Did we have multiple Microsofts before and somehow I missed it? Ballmer apparently felt so strongly about the "family of devices and services" bit that he boldfaced it. That or it was a formatting bug in Office 365.

These "high value activities" will include "researching term papers," "conducting meetings with colleagues in multiple locations," and "having serious fun." But frivolous low-value fun? No friggin' way. What do you think this is -- Google?

As we go to market, we will primarily monetize our high-value activities by leading with devices and enterprise services. In this model, our consumer services such as Bing and Skype will differentiate our devices and serve as an on-ramp to our enterprise services while generating some revenue from subscriptions and advertising.

Here's where you can tell that Ballmer was cutting and pasting from the last three shareholder letters. That, or he paid someone on Fiverr to write this for him.

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