Microsoft’s ex-CEO Steve Ballmer recently admitted that Windows Vista was not his greatest achievement during his tenure as the head of Microsoft.
During an interview with ZDNet, Ballmer admitted that Vista, codenamed “Longhorn”, was one of his first mistakes as CEO. When asked about his regrets in his thirteen years steering Microsoft, he didn’t hesitate about the answer.
“When I look at it and I say, okay, what’s the thing that I did that I feel — that I regret the most, not just in my CEOship but my whole time here, it’s absolutely ‘Longhorn becomes Vista.’ That was the single biggest mistake I made,” Ballmer told Foley.
“Not only because the product wasn’t a great product, but remember it took us five or six years to ship it. Then we had to sort of fix it. That was what I might call Windows 7.”
Ballmer continues to relate on how the Windows team was caught up in fixing Vista and getting it out of the gate for at least seven years. He noted that many of Microsoft’s brightest engineers and programmers were stuck with fixing Vista and figuring a way out of the mess that they had gotten themselves into.
“We wound up with a period of let’s say seven or eight years where we had the A-team tied up not driving. We did not make real progress in eight years, and there were other things those people could have been working on,” he admits. “The mistake wasn’t just an executional mistake. It was a technical strategy mistake. We tried to fight it off.”
On the Xbox division, however, Ballmer is happy with the progress the company has made in recent years despite the department not making much profit. He told ZDNet that giving the Xbox teams freedom to move, create and build the brand was the right move to make.
“What you’re trying to do is make money for the long run, not the short run,” he said. “I feel bad about how we got here on Xbox, but we’ve built a heck of an asset. And could we have built it a little cheaper, yes. But we built it. We weren’t swayed from building an important asset.”