Just yesterday CEO of Microsoft, Steve Ballmer, announced he will retire within the next 12 months in order to bring in a new CEO who can stick around during the company's transition into a services and devices company. A slew of interviews have followed and during one with Mary Jo Foley of ZDNet, Ballmer identified his biggest regret while heading the company.
Although some have read Ballmer's comments as being an indictment of Windows Vista itself, the former CEO seems more regretful about how Microsoft managed the transition to the platform. Vista proved to be a low-point in the company's PC platforms, leaving many companies opting to stick with Windows XP, and forcing Microsoft to maintain support for the old OS long after it was meant to be retired.
...I would say probably the thing I regret most is the, what shall I call it, the loopedy-loo that we did that was sort of Longhorn to Vista. I would say that's probably the thing I regret most. And, you know, there are side effects of that when you tie up a big team to do something that doesn't prove out to be as valuable.
The "loopedy-loo" as he put it, seems to refer to the transition between Longhorn and Vista operating systems and the fallout that ensued when the latter didn't achieve the goals Microsoft had put in place for it.
Steve Ballmer has been the CEO of Microsoft since January 2000, but has been with the company since 1980 and was the 20th employee. Speculation indicates he will continue to work with the company even after he officially steps down, though he expressed his opinion that there is a need for new leadership to see the transformation from a software-focused company to a device and services company through to its completion.