This essay is not really about Microsoft. I don’t know what Microsoft should do. Neither do you, reader. You think you know more about Microsoft than Steve Ballmer? Bill Gates? The Microsoft engineer living next door? Maybe. Probably not.

Important people commented on the imminent departure of Microsoft CEO Ballmer in USA Today’s Opinionline section. More than the substance of those opinions, which are hardly backed by unequivocal evidence, it is interesting to look at who said what.

The tech community is torn between Microsoft friends and Microsoft enemies-for-life (typically Linux fanatics). Tech Crunch writer Alex Wilhelm sees Ballmer as a good CEO who is exiting at his best. ZDNet writer Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, a staunch Linux worshiper, has criticized Microsoft for years and naturally regards Ballmer as a flop. Both make cases based on technol­ogy, personal preferences, and anecdotal evidence. Of course none of those are the perspective that matters.

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In the early days of Yahoo and Google, around 2003, the distinction between the two companies could have hardly been greater. Yahoo made its strategy bet on being a media company. It employed a cadre of editors to shape content and feed it to the nascent novice internet users who wanted a guiding hand in their insatiable search for news on Tom Cruise or MC Hammer or whoever was popular in those ancient days. This strategy worked wonders as long as the users needed help. Yahoo grew to be a giant.

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