Nerval's Lobster writes "Any number of executives could take Ballmer's place, including a few he unceremoniously kicked to the curb over the years. Whoever steps into that CEO role, however, faces a much greater challenge than if Ballmer had quietly resigned several years ago. Ballmer famously missed the boat on tablets and smartphones; Windows 8 isn't selling as well as Microsoft expected; and on Websites and blogs such as Mini-Microsoft (which had a brilliant posting about Ballmer's departure), employees complain bitterly about the company's much-maligned stack-ranking system, its layers of bureaucracy, and its inability to innovate. Had Ballmer left years ago, replaced by someone with the ability to more keenly anticipate markets, the company would probably be in much better shape to face its coming challenges. In its current form, Microsoft often feels like it's struggling in the wake of Amazon, Google, Apple, and Facebook." In an interview with ZDNet, Ballmer said his biggest regret as CEO was in how Windows Vista was developed. Opinions are divided on both the nature of his resignation and what it will mean for Microsoft. While the stock price is up, BusinessWeek and others suggest the purpose of the transition is to find somebody better able to anticipate future trends. That would certainly lead to more organizational changes within Microsoft, something employees suffered through just last month. Ben Kuchera at the Penny Arcade Report points out that this could mean Microsoft will try to re-enter markets it has abandoned. He asks the company to "stay the hell away from PC gaming."
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