The Two Ballmers

I’ve spent most of the day wandering around, meeting with a lot of folks and the topic that kept coming up was Microsoft and the Windows 7 launch and how Microsoft will do tomorrow. Matt Buchanan summed it well tonight. The most interesting news this week so far in tech was a new mouse.

Tomorrow Steve Ballmer will take the stage in NY. It might be the most important product introduction for Microsoft. Ever. It’s not whether Win 7 will be a success. It will. It’s whether Win 7 will be relevant. Reviews have been good so far but Win 7 is only as good as the hardware it runs on. Mindshare is only as good as that’s created by MSFT and partners and so far things have mostly gone well. But the story is already told. On the eve of the launch, I feel the best Microsoft can do tomorrow and that’s not good. First, things can go wrong and you might miss expectations.

Which brings me to my point. I think there are two Steve Ballmers. I’m not close to Steve, but I have had the privilege of sitting down with him one on one over the years. I’ve interviewed him on stage in front of thousands of people. I have heard him speak more times than I can recall. There are two Steves.

One Ballmer is the CEO who shows up prepped by WaggEd, presents his story, stays on message and doesn’t leave the script. He’s kinda boring.

Then there’s another Steve. The guy who could drive any car on the planet, ever made, who still drives a Ford because that’s where his dad worked. The guy who shows up with such passion, energy and excitement that you can’t help get caught up in his enthusiasm and his message. If that Steve shows up tomorrow, it could be a whole different story. Of course, that Steve sometimes says things that, perhaps are best unsaid.

A lot of how MSFT does tomorrow will be determined by which Steve will show up. That’s one reason I’ll be at the event tomorrow.

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2 responses to “The Two Ballmers

  1. How can one say “It will” (be a success) – unless one can read tomorrow’s newspaper today…. Good luck with that:/ Watching Engadget’s Show you can see that MS can’t go far….

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