Bill Gates, speaking on the set of CBS This Morning, was asked point-blank by Charlie Rose if he was happy with Steve Ballmer’s performance as CEO. The Microsoft chairman’s response acknowledged some of the company’s missteps but made it clear that he still supports Ballmer in the role.

Gates responded, “He and I are two of the most self-critical people you can imagine. There were a lot of amazing things that Steve’s leadership got done with the company last year. Windows 8 is key to the future. The Surface computer. Bing people are seeing as a better search product. Xbox.”

He continued, “But is it enough? No. He and are not satisfied that, in terms of breakthrough things, that we’re doing everything possible.”

Gates offered smartphones as an example. This is an area where Ballmer has been widely criticized for not seeing the potential of the iPhone.

“There’s a lot of things like cell phones where we didn’t get out in the lead very early. … We didn’t miss cell phones, but the way we went about it didn’t allow us to get the leadership. So it’s clearly a mistake.”

At one point, Rose pointed out that much of the coverage about Microsoft isn’t about what it’s doing right, but what it should be doing better.

Gates laughed. “Oh, we appreciate the advice,” he said.

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  • Mark

    If you listen carefully he actually doesn’t say he still supports Steve. He talks about some things Steve accomplished during the past year that were good but stops short of answering the question. That’s a first. Usually he’s quick to offer his continued support for Steve. It’s also the first time I recall him saying so strongly that he (and Steve) aren’t satisfied with where MS it at. For the last decade they’ve repeated the mantra “we love our strategy”. Apparently not anymore. Which is good, because clearly they shouldn’t be satisfied with where MS is at. The company has had its butt kicked by Apple and Google for a decade, and now it looks like it’s facing an existential threat in the post PC world due to its failures in both mobile and tablets, two markets it helped pioneer. Even its monopoly on PC OSes is being challenged now by Android, and the Mac continues to take share. Growth is at an effective standstill. And of course the stock has been dead money for more than a decade already, and looks like its breaking down here and headed back to the low $20’s. The board needs to do something more radical. MS isn’t getting it done and isn’t even on a path to do so.

    • Rob Grainger

      How exactly does Android challenge the dominance of Windows on the PC?

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