John Paczkowski

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Beyond Monkey Boy: It’s a Steve Ballmer Quote-Tacular!

After 13 years as CEO, Steve Ballmer is giving up the top job at Microsoft, announcing plans to retire within the next year. While Ballmer has had a rocky tenure as CEO, a role he took over from company co-founder Bill Gates in 2000, it has been enormously entertaining to watch, largely due to his bombastic personality, relentless salesmanship and endless quotability.

Here’s a collection of some of the more memorable remarks Ballmer has made over the years.

On iPods (2006): “No, I do not [have an iPod]. Nor do my children. My children — in many dimensions they’re as poorly behaved as many other children, but at least on this dimension I’ve got my kids brainwashed — you don’t use Google and you don’t use an iPod.”

On the music found on iPods (2004): “The most common format of music on an iPod is ‘stolen.'”

On Android (2011): “You don’t need to be a computer scientist to use a Windows Phone. I think you do to use an Android phone … It is hard for me to be excited about the Android phones.”

On open source (2007): “I would love to see all open-source innovation happen on top of Windows.”

On the now discontinued Zune (2007): “We’re firmly behind Zune.”

On possible advice he might give Google and Apple as they faced potential antitrust probes (2010): “No advice. I just wish them the best in getting lots of good experience.”

On monopolies (2001): “I don’t know what a monopoly is until somebody tells me.”

On the future of the PC (2010): “I think that people are going to be using PCs in greater and greater numbers for years to come. But I think PCs will look different … they’ll evolve. They’ll get smaller … they’ll get touch … their innards will change. The real question is, ‘What is a PC?’ Nothing that’s done on a PC today will get less relevant tomorrow. I think there will exist a general-purpose device that does anything you want, because people don’t want multiple devices, or can’t afford them.”

On competing with Google in cloud services (2011): “All in, baby! We are winning, winning, winning, winning.”

On Google’s 2007 hiring spree (2007): “I don’t really know that anybody’s proven that a random collection of people doing their own thing actually creates value.”

On the brown Zune (2007): “It’s the dirt-bike market … we have high share there.”

On Google (2008): “In the coming years, we’ll make progress against Google in search first by upping the ante in R&D through organic innovation and strategic acquisitions. Second, we will out-innovate Google in key areas — we’re already seeing this in our maps and news search. Third, we are going to reinvent the search category through user experience and business model innovation.”

On Apple (2008): “In the competition between PCs and Macs, we outsell Apple 30 to 1. But there is no doubt that Apple is thriving. Why? Because they are good at providing an experience that is narrow but complete, while our commitment to choice often comes with some compromises to the end-to-end experience. Today, we’re changing the way we work with hardware vendors to ensure that we can provide complete experiences with absolutely no compromises. We’ll do the same with phones — providing choice as we work to create great end-to-end experiences.”

On Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ comparison of the the transition from desktop/laptop PCs to tablets with the transition from trucks to cars (2010): “Windows machines will not be trucks.”

On the iPhone (2007): “There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance. It’s a $500 subsidized item.”

On Apple (2012): “In every category Apple competes, it’s the low-volume player, except in tablets.”

On Linux (2001): “Linux is a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches.”

On the iPhone once again (2007): “$500, fully subsidized, with a plan! That is the most expensive phone in the world and it doesn’t appeal to business customers, because it doesn’t have a keyboard, which makes it not a very good email machine.”

On innovation (2008): “In our business, people think great things happen overnight. Great things rarely happen overnight.”

On Surface RT (2013): “We built a few more devices than we could sell.”

On the Web (2005): “We will move fast, we will get there, we will win the Web.”

On oft-delayed Windows Vista (2005): “Vista has never been delayed.”

On his Procter & Gamble days, working on a product called the Coldsnap Freezer Dessert Maker (2008):: “Makes revolutionary desserts you never could have thought of before!”

On his early days at Microsoft (2008): “I wondered, ‘Why did I leave Stanford business school for this?’ I think I said to Bill at one point, ‘I didn’t leave business school to go bankrupt.'”

And, again on Windows Vista (2008): “Vista is not a failure. Is it something we’d like to improve? Of course. Is it something that with 20/20 hindsight we’d do differently? Sure.”

On Bing (2009): “We needed a name that says this is all about search.”

On what it’s like running Microsoft (2012): “Hard! It’s like raising children.”

On Bill Gates leaving Microsoft (2012): “He is the most incredibly smart guy I’ve ever known and we work uniquely well together. Sure, I miss him.”

On entering the tablet market with Surface (2012): “I don’t think anybody has done a product that is the product that I see customers wanting. You can go through the products from all those guys … and none of them has a product that you can really use. Not Apple. Not Google. Not Amazon. Nobody has a product that lets you work and play that can be your tablet and your PC. Not at any price point. … [Surface] is a first-class tablet that people can enjoy and appreciate.”

On retiring — in 2018 (2008): “I’ve been at Microsoft, as I said, 28 years. I tell people I’m planning on being here another — here at Microsoft another nine, 10 years, until my last kid goes away to college. I’ve got to tell you, for all of us who are involved in this industry, there’s never been a better time. The next 10 years will bring even more innovation and excitement and energy than the last 10.”

On his decision to retire from Microsoft in the next year (2013): “This is an emotional and difficult thing for me to do. I take this step in the best interests of the company I love; it is the thing outside of my family and closest friends that matters to me most.”

On what’s next after Microsoft (2013): “My whole life has been about my family and about Microsoft. And I do relish the idea that I’ll have another chapter, a chapter two, if you will, of my life where I’ll get to sort of experience other sides of life, learn more about myself, all of that, but it’s not like I leave with a specific plan in mind.”

And finally, from way back in the day, this epic video monument to Ballmer’s bombastic exuberance:

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