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Microsoft and the PC industry: Defenestrated

August 30, 2013 at 3:15 am | News Desk

UNTIL August 23rd few people would have described Steve Ballmer as “retiring”. Microsoft’s chief executive has played both tiger and Tigger: snarling (toothlessly, as it turned out) at Apple’s gadgets; and bouncing, with a whoop, onto conference stages to extol his company’s wares. But retiring he is, within a year.Mr Ballmer’s departure is a surprise. He had announced a reorganisation of the company only in July and had hoped to oversee much of the change. Some celebrated his going: Microsoft’s share price went up by 7.3% on the day the news broke. Mr Ballmer has plenty of critics, although Microsoft’s revenues have trebled on his 13-year watch, to $77.8 billion in the year to June, and profits have grown similarly, to $21.9 billion. The critics point at the rise of Apple and Google, and say Microsoft should have done better—or handed some of its $77 billion of cash to shareholders. In an interview with the Seattle Times, Mr Ballmer denied that pressure from ValueAct, a fund with a small stake in the firm, helped push him out.Microsoft sits atop a pyramid of companies that prospered from the long boom in personal computers (PCs). The vast majority of PCs run on Microsoft’s Windows operating system and are powered by Intel’s processors. They bear the brands of Dell, Hewlett-Packard (HP), Lenovo and others, and nowadays are mostly made by Taiwanese…

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