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Why All the Hate for Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer?

Why All the Hate for Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer?
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
Image credit: Lee Jae-Won/Reuters

Almost immediately after news came from Microsoft that its longtime chief executive Steve Ballmer was planning to retire sometime in the next 12 months, the internet erupted with angry messages and articles on blogs and over social media.

Microsoft shares even jumped nearly 9 percent to $35.27 in premarket trading Friday morning after the announcement.

Take for example Adam Penenberg's piece on PandoDaily called "Steve Ballmer: The. Worst. CEO. Ever." You can't get much more to the point than that. In it, Penenberg argues that Microsoft rode huge returns on its Windows software throughout the 1990s but has suffered a string of unforgivable missteps over the years -- all thanks to Ballmer who failed to innovate faster.

"Of course," Penenberg wrote, "he might have undertaken this strategy six or seven years ago, before its failed operating systems, Windows phone, disastrous mobile plays, and other projects that went grossly overtime, over budget, and ultimately awry. Just because a company is big doesn't mean it can't change."

Related: Steve Ballmer to Retire as Microsoft CEO

Penenberg's piece was just one of many to criticize Ballmer's reign as chief of the tech giant. But, reader comments, even on Penenberg's post, come to Ballmer's defense, noting that Microsoft's annual revenue and income have all grown significantly since he took over as chief executive in 2000

On Twitter, Time magazine tech editor and former editor in chief at PC World magazine Harry McCracken was among the few to speak out in Ballmer's defense. "Seems that much of the blogosphere has trouble processing the idea that the Ballmer era had both significant successes & significant failures.

On his "Techland" blog on Time.com, McCracken elaborated: "The dustbin of tech-company history is littered with outfits which were once market-defining behemoths: Lotus, WordPerfect, Netscape, Palm and oh, so many more," he wrote. "Microsoft in 2013 is not a company on the verge of joining them: It's still making vast amounts of money and managing to be highly competitive in everything from mundane business software to blockbuster videogames."

Tell us what you think of Ballmer as CEO in the poll below.
 

Jason Fell is the managing editor of Entrepreneur.com.

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