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Top 10 Steve Ballmer antics as Microsoft CEO prepares to retire

23 Aug 2013
Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer

Steve Ballmer, the maverick CEO of Microsoft, has announced that he will step down from his role within a year as the search for a new chief executive begins in earnest.

Whoever takes over the job will have some big shoes to fill, especially when it comes to keeping fans, critics and the media hooked on their every word, with Ballmer famed for his loud, colourful and often downright bizarre stage antics.

In honour of Ballmer's announcement the V3 team has put together 10 of our favourite Ballmer moments that give just a small glimpse into the man who has headed Microsoft for so long:

10. Ballmer evades eggs by cowering behind lectern

In 2008, Ballmer gave a talk in Budapest. Everything was going as well as a speech in English can go with a foreign audience, until a man a few rows back, with the words “Microsoft Corruption” written on the back of his t-shirt demanded Microsoft return its customers’ money and proceeded to effortlessly throw eggs at the cowering Ballmer.

You have to admire Steve for his dodging ability as he runs for cover behind his lectern, or perhaps laugh at the throwing talent of his assailant, as Ballmer emerged without egg on his face. He shrugs the whole incident off in typical fashion, joking that “it was a friendly discussion”. One thing’s for sure, you certainly can’t ever call Steve chicken.

9. Volleyball baby, boom!

V3 was lucky enough to see Ballmer speak at the LSE back in 2011. While there a student asked him what his favourite game on the Xbox was. Ballmer's reply was succinct and loud: "Volleyball baby, boom!" he said, complete with jump and smash motion.

8. "I have never, honestly, thrown a chair in my life."

In 2005 it was reported that Steve Ballmer had vowed to “kill Google” in a bitter tirade against the search giant. Mark Lucovsky, a former Microsoft employee who left for Google in 2004, made the claims in a court statement, describing Ballmer’s reaction to the news of his departure: “Ballmer then picked up a chair and threw it across the room, hitting a table in his office.” He was then reported to have said: “F***ing Eric Schmidt is a f***ing p***y. I'm going to f***ing bury that guy, I have done it before, and I will do it again. I'm going to f***ing kill Google.”

Ballmer strongly denied the claims, insisting they were a "gross exaggeration of what actually took place".

7. Ballmer sells by shouting

Steve Ballmer shouted his way into the minds of millions with his enthusiastic selling of Windows 1.0. “How much do YOU think this operating system is worth?” He yelled, accusingly. “Don’t answer,” he interrupted. “A card file, a notepad, a CLOCK,” he said breathlessly.

So how much did he think you’d pay? $99. And so the revolution began. Watch below (with the volume low, we should warn you).

6. Dancing with the boss

Clearly not one to shy away from the camera, Ballmer has starred in numerous videos for Microsoft that have done the rounds on YouTube, and perhaps none is stranger than the below in which Ballmer and Bill Gates bob around in a car to 'What is Love?'


5. Ballmer laughs at the iPhone, but Apple has the last laugh

A response that has come back to haunt Ballmer on many occasions was his swift denunciation of the iPhone, which left him with serious egg on his face as Apple left Microsoft for dead in the mobile market, with the firm still playing catch up.

4. Linux is a cancer

Never one to mince his words, Ballmer took the war on open source to new levels with this comment during an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times back in 2001. Microsoft and the Linux Foundation have since made friends but Ballmer's comment no doubt still stings.

3. The iPad is just another PC

Ballmer didn't learn his lesson when it came to the iPad, as he dismissed Apple's new tablet device as just another PC. Sadly for Ballmer the iPad has hacked away at PC sales rapidly, with many people preferring to buy tablets over PCs, and Android jumping on this bandwagon too.

2. I love this company

Another terrific example of Ballmer getting really “pumped” by the crowd. At a keynote in the early 2000s, Ballmer is seen running up and down the stage performing the now infamous “monkey dance”, shouting “give it up for me!” He then adds, in case it wasn't already clear: “I. Love. This. Company”.

Another sweaty moment for Ballmer, whose dancing talents were seemingly endless at the turn of the millennium.

1. Developers

Perhaps most famous of all, though, was his antics at Microsoft’s 25th anniversary celebrations. Here, Ballmer felt the time was right to leap around the stage chanting “developers, developers, developers”, which might have caused some dubious glances from other executives as the firm approached its upcoming Windows XP launch.

Ballmer’s sweat patches were also of note, and he was dubbed the “sweatiest billionaire ever”. But what nobody can disagree with is the fact that while divisive, Ballmer really cared about what he did, and his passion shined through every time he opened his mouth or danced around on stage.

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Dan Worth

Dan Worth is the news editor for V3 having first joined the site as a reporter in November 2009. He specialises in a raft of areas including fixed and mobile telecoms, data protection, social media and government IT. Before joining V3 Dan covered communications technology, data handling and resilience in the emergency services sector on the BAPCO Journal

View Dan's Google+ profile

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