Loss of Focus at Microsoft Worries Top Exec

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2004-07-06 Print this article Print

In his annual internal memo to company employees, CEO Steve Ballmer admits that the company must renew its culture and values—particularly accountability.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer on Tuesday sent his annual e-mail update to all full-time staff telling them what the companys business priorities are and how the company is faring in meeting its areas of strategic focus. In the lengthy e-mail, which was seen by eWEEK and is timed to coincide with the start of the software makers fiscal year on July 1, Ballmer moved to clarify the core issues facing the Redmond, Wash., company, telling staff that "looking ahead to FY05, I am excited. "However, reading some of your comments in the MS Poll and in mail I have received, there are core issues that are not as clear to you as I would like. Will we be first with important innovations? Will process excellence lead to greater ability to make an individual difference?
"Will our focus on costs hurt employees personally and will it hinder new investments? Will we grow and will our stock price rise? Will the PC remain a vital tool and will we remain a great company?" he said.
Ballmer went on to say that he is "incredibly optimistic" about the future and that while Microsoft Corp.s strategies and initiatives are critical, it also must renew its culture and values—particularly accountability. "Nothing breeds confidence like success—success in the hearts and minds of our customers, and success versus competitors, be they established, open source or startups. We must continue to compete as relentlessly as ever, while also reflecting our industry leadership responsibilities … "We will work this year to bring more focus and rigor to developing our people: as individual contributors, as teammates, as thought leaders and as people leaders. Microsoft is the best place to be, and we will make it even better," he told employees. Ballmer also addressed Microsofts vision of "integrated innovation" and how this would play out in the next generation of Windows products, code-named Longhorn. Integrated innovation, he said, is about an experience in which a customer using Microsoft products together gets a "whole" that is greater than the sum of its parts. "It is not about creating technical dependencies across groups for their own sake. Longhorn will be another major step forward on which we can add value to customers through integration," he said. "We have a lot of hard work yet to do on Longhorn to deliver the right capability. We decided to release a number of products before Longhorn so we can take the time to get it right, and to prioritize the important security features of XP SP2 [Service Pack 2]," he said in the e-mail. Next Page: Products must be better segmented for different users needs, Ballmer says.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at www.eweek.com.


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