In 2007, Microsoft confused PC users by releasing several different versions of the Vista operating system. It’s glassy user interface and improved search features were welcomed upgrades. Unfortunately, Microsoft annoyed users with incessant warnings before letting them install programs or perform previously quick and mundane tasks. In a quest for improved security, Microsoft missed the mark on usability.
Today, a third of computers still run Windows XP, which came before Vista. Not even one in 20 PCs runs Vista anymore as many people quickly upgraded to patch version Windows 7, the most widely used operating system now.
Microsoft didn’t learn from its mistakes. The company’s release of Windows 8 last October fell flat because it changed the way Windows worked too quickly for users. It removed the start button and moved to a tile-based layout similar to what people see on tablets and smartphones.
Combined with slowing sales of traditional computers, Windows 8 has barely made a dent in the market. One of Ballmer’s final product releases will come in October when Windows 8.1 is unveiled.
Microsoft angered many potential buyers of its new video game and home entertainment console by initially saying that the device would require a constant Internet connection. Though part of an attempt to fend off piracy, Microsoft later backed down from the requirement.
Unrelated to Microsoft, Ballmer recently tried to buy the Sacramento Kings basketball franchise. The failed endeavor might have epitomized some of his shortfalls.
A Ballmer-led investment group lost out this spring to a team of investors led by Vivek Ranadive, chief executive of a smaller software maker based in Silicon Valley. Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson reportedly said the NBA called Ranadive "a visionary" who sold them on the "NBA 3.0."