The wrong person is in charge of Microsoft, according to a fiercely critical new book written by a former Microsoft executive Joachim Kempin.
"They need somebody maybe 35-40 years old, a younger person who understands the Facebook Inc generation and this mobile community," Kempin told Reuters ahead of his book's general release today.
"They don't need this guy on stage with this fierce, aggressive look, announcing the next version of Windows and thinking he can score with that."
Kempin left Microsoft a long time ago, in 2002. He'd worked there since 1983, and was senior vice president overseeing Windows sales. He had direct access to Bill Gates.
Kempin accused Ballmer of blocking any rising stars at the company that could potentially threaten his rule. Key Xbox person Richard Belluzzo rose to chief operating officer at Microsoft but was stifled by Ballmer, Kempin claimed, and he left. Similar things happened to different prospering employees again and again, apparently.
"Is he a great CEO? I don't think so," said Kempin. "Microsoft's board is a lame duck board, has been forever. They hire people to help them administer the company, but not to lead the company. That's the problem.
"They missed all the opportunities they were talking about when I was still in the company," Kempin revealed. "Tablets, phones ... we had a tablet going, we had tablet software when Windows XP came out, it was never followed up properly.
"For Microsoft to really get back in the game seriously," he added, "you need a big change in management. As much as I respect Steve Ballmer, he may be part of that in the end."