Steve Ballmer in 2010

Steve Ballmer rose to fame (or infamy, possibly) after a certain speech was posted on YouTube – just why a respected CEO of one of the largest companies in the world feels the need to act that way is baffling. Especially when you consider that this is not an isolated incident and contrast Ballmer’s approach to that of another infamous Steve of the tech world. I certainly know who I have more faith in – the thoughtful and self-assured Jobs wins every day.

There’s something to be said for dogged determination and passion though – commitment will get you through a few tough times. Thing is, since Ballmer took over control of Microsoft in 2000, there have been a few too many tough times – so much so that somme are predicting that this year might be Ballmer’s last at Microsoft after joining the company in 1980.

The core businesses of Microsoft – Windows and Office – are looking up, with Vista now a bad memory and new versions of Office, complete with 'Ribbon' UI receiving praise. However, everything other area of the business has issues: the red ring of death and 24 per cent failure rate of Xbox 360; the lack of uptake for the Zune; the failure of Windows Mobile, and the still unconvincing Bing. Ballmer’s approach seems to be to doggedly go after things until Microsoft gets it right but perhaps a selective approach would serve better?

Steve Ballmer's CES 2010 Keynote Introduction and background Steve Ballmer's CES 2010 Keynote Introduction and background
Which Steve Ballmer will we see at CES? The hyperactive mad-thing, or the more measured businessman?

With this question in mind, we sat down to watch Steve Ballmer’s keynote speech at CES 2010. As the annual CES show has a habit of setting the agenda and trends for the next year in consumer technology, it's an important speech.

The Speech Starts

The pre-show music’s a muted, futuristic number, all bleeps and synths; uplifting hope-filled keyboards join in as a packed room of journos eagerly wait to see if Steve Ballmer will give us another YouTube hit, or will be more sedate. The pre-show music suggests the latter.

First there’s a pre-amble by the President and CEO Gary Shapiro, claiming CES to be ‘the World Cup of technology’, and that this show is host the most innovation in the almost 30 years Shapiro has been attending. His introduction for Ballmer plays on the fact that Microsoft has changed the way we use technology, which is probably true.
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October 14 2021 | 15:04