Magazine Predicts Ballmer Will Get Canned In 2010

Newsweek Predictions For 2010 report

Newsweek noted that Microsoft's stock has fallen almost 50 percent since Ballmer ascended to the CEO position nearly a decade ago and claimed that distractions like Windows Vista have kept Ballmer from moving into "every new big tech market of the past decade."

Microsoft launched Bing in May and has achieved modest search market share gains. But according to Newsweek, the Internet search and keyword advertising game is already over -- and Google won. Same goes for MP3 players and mobile phones, where Apple has left Microsoft in the dust. The coup de grace, though, was Ballmer's failure to close the Yahoo deal, Newsweek said.

This is hardly the first time the notion of Ballmer being forced out at Microsoft has been bandied about. Vista and Yahoo are often cited as terminable offenses, although ironically, some pundits also thought the Yahoo deal would be Ballmer's undoing if it actually did go through.

There has even been speculation that Ballmer could leave Microsoft to pursue a career in the music industry.

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More recently, Ballmer has presided over several straight dismal fiscal quarters at Microsoft, which has been battered by weak PC and server demand. Ballmer has referred to the situation as the worst economic conditions Microsoft has ever faced, and the first major layoffs in company history have taken place under his watch.

Ballmer has also been called out for Microsoft's failure to keep Windows Mobile competitive in the marketplace: At Microsoft's annual shareholder meeting in November, Ballmer was asked why Microsoft hasn't come up with a better strategy for capturing the hearts and minds of the younger generation.

"They claim that Microsoft, the evil empire, is stodgy. And in the current ad that Apple has, you all look like a buffoon," one particularly frank shareholder told Ballmer. "And I'm just wondering why your marketing group can't do something to rein in this next generation, because you've got a real bad image out there."

With Windows 7 continuing to receive a positive reception in the marketplace, Ballmer has a big feather in his cap as Microsoft sails into 2010. Other revenue engines like Dynamics CRM and Sharepoint are humming healthily along. But while the idea of Ballmer getting forced out at Microsoft seems far-fetched, Microsoft shareholders are going to continue grumbling if next year brings more of the same quarterly results.