Ballmer touts 'value' in final shareholder letter

Ballmer touts 'value' in final shareholder letter

In his last letter to shareholders before retiring, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer hammered on themes he and other executives emphasized when they met with Wall Street analysts three weeks earlier.

Among the strategies Ballmer outlined in his shareholder letter were Microsoft's ongoing transformation to a "devices-and-services" company -- a massive turn from its history as a purveyor of packaged software -- and its continued reliance on enterprise sales to generate revenue.

Ballmer spelled out the company's mission statement. "We declared that Microsoft's focus going forward will be to create a family of devices and services for individuals and businesses that empower people around the globe at home, at work and on the go, for the activities they value most," he wrote.

Microsoft has used that phrasing before, as has Ballmer, including in a July letter to employees and on Sept. 19 when the company hosted a half-day event for Wall Street analysts.

The company has said that it plans to stick with the strategy swivel no matter who is appointed Ballmer's successor, a stance that was likely cemented when Microsoft announced it would acquire parts of Finnish phone maker Nokia for $7.2 billion. The Nokia acquisition "will accelerate our growth with Windows Phone while strengthening our overall device ecosystem and our opportunity," Ballmer promised shareholders.

But when it comes to consumers, Ballmer tacitly admitted last month, Microsoft faces an iffier sales pitch. "Consumer services, as we say, are tough," he said.

Ballmer faced another tough crowd when the Microsoft board of directors reduced his bonus for the 2013 fiscal year, citing the poor performance of Windows 8 and the $900 million Surface RT write-off. The bonus of $550,000 amounted to 79% of Ballmer's target; last year, he was given a bonus that amounted to 91% of his target.

This version of this story was originally published in Computerworld's print edition. It was adapted from an article that appeared earlier on

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