It’s been a while since I felt the need to explode with a short commentary about a pressing issue in the tech world. This week, you have to wonder about the possible impact of the planned near-departure of Bill Gates from Microsoft. The richest man in the world and perhaps the world’s most famous computer nerd is both revered and hated with equal fervor. But Microsoft has lost its shine in recent years, struggling to deal with ongoing antitrust matters in Europe, ongoing delays with Windows Vista, flat stock prices and other trials and tribulations. Some blame the company’s troubles on the decision in 2000 to put Gates’ pal Steve Ballmer in charge. Forget, for the moment, that the latter resembles actor Peter Boyle in his famous role as the monster in the classic comedy flick “Young Frankenstein.” I think Ballmer has also outlived his usefulness, and I think he should prepare to pack his bags as well. Sure, Microsoft is still making money hand over fist, but it clearly has management problems, and moving a few executives around may not be sufficient to satisfy stockholders and get the company back on track. Gates has now shown the way, and many more should follow him. While Mac users might applaud any hint of trouble with the world’s largest software company, the industry needs competition to spur real innovation. Or is Microsoft the industry’s dinosaur, fated to die a slow death, one that’ll stretch over many, many years into eventual irrelevance?
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