Steve Ballmer has never been one to be quiet, and his time since stepping down as CEO of Microsoft has been no exception. Even though he now describes himself as an
outsider at the company who sits down with his successor Satya Nadella a few times a year, he still has plenty of thoughts on how the company is doing — and where its head should be at.
In a recent interview with Business Insider, Ballmer admitted he
can't say I'm checked out because I do spend lot of time thinking about the place as an investment.
I feel free to interject the things I can see from my vantage point, he said.
Certainly I'm not shy about sharing those.
He's particularly bullish about Microsoft's forays into hardware.
I really think the work Microsoft's doing with Surface, with HoloLens, with Xbox, that stuff's absolutely essential to the company's future, said Ballmer.
Because innovation in the future will either be from the cloud out to all devices, or from devices as supported by software in the cloud.
He's also impressed with Azure — with some small caveats:
When you take a look at the transition from server software to Azure, what's going on in terms of cloud infrastructure, the company is absolutely the No. 1 company serving enterprise backbone needs, which is fantastic. It's making the migration to cloud. We started a good thing with Azure, and the company has made well more than two years of progress in terms of being able to compete with the right cost profile, margin structure, and innovation versus Amazon.
There's still a lot to do on that. It's not like the company rides the same momentum. I think the company in terms of the investments it's making in evangelizing those products, supporting those products technically, I think it's really doing a good job. That's a big challenge. Amazon has also done a very nice job with AWS. In some senses it's part of the nomenclature now, particularly in the startup community even more than in the enterprise community. I see that in some of the startups I've been involved with just in the sports arena.
He loves Azure so much, he finds he wishes he just knew a little more about it.
As a shareholder I have expressed my frustration with not getting more information about revenue and margins from the cloud, he said.
He also grumbled a bit about Nokia.
The board as I was leaving took the company on a path by buying Nokia, they kind of went ahead with that after I told them I was going to go, he told Rosoff.
The company, between me and the board, had taken that sort of view. Satya, he's certainly changed that. He needs to have a clear path forward. But I'm sure he'll get there.
Read the rest of the interview at Business Insider.