Who Should Replace Steve Ballmer As Microsoft CEO? [We Ask You]

Within the next 12 months Steve Ballmer is going to retire as CEO of Microsoft and likely to be never seen again. I doubt he’ll do a Bill Gates and use his money and fame to do good deeds, but stranger things have happened. Having already asked how do you feel about Ballmer’s departure and where should Microsoft head next, it’s time to get down to real business.

Ballmer has already bid a fond farewell to the Microsoft faithfuls, his tearful goodbye being captured forever on the Weird & Wonderful Web. After a Goodbye often comes a Hello, and someone will have to try and fill Ballmer’s sizeable shoes and stage presence, but who will be taking over from Ballmer in the Microsoft hot seat?

This Week’s Question…

We want to know, Who Should Replace Steve Ballmer As Microsoft CEO? That question sounds rather dull, because Microsoft is unlikely to hire someone exciting for the job. Which is why we don’t want you to take this debate particularly serious.

There are dozens of people who could take over from Ballmer as CEO of Microsoft, but the true shortlist is likely to be extremely short and full of suits. You could argue the case for one of these people to take over, or you could instead state the case for someone completely unrelated to technology and extremely unlikely to land the job. It’s up to you.

steve ballmer   Who Should Replace Steve Ballmer As Microsoft CEO? [We Ask You]

There’s an unofficial website titled Next Microsoft CEO which has a list of the runners and riders for the job on it. But that’s only going to be of use for those of you taking the question seriously. The rest of you can feel free to pluck any name from the air and tell us why you think they would make a great Microsoft CEO.

Some names (both serious and fantastical) to consider are: Linus Torvalds, the man who created Linux, Bill Gates, the former CEO and now Chairman of Microsoft, Larry Page, CEO of Google, Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, Stephen Elop, CEO of Nokia, Ashton Kutcher, actor who portrayed Steve Jobs on screen, Barack Obama, President of the United States.

This question is only limited by your imagination, but please do explain your reasoning for putting forward the person you nominate for the position rather than just throwing a name out there before scuttling back off to whatever dark corner of the Internetz you temporarily emerged from.

Drawing Conclusions

All comments will be digested to form conclusions in a follow-up post next week where we will detail the We Ask You Results. One reader will be chosen for the coveted Comment Of The Week, getting their name up in lights, the respect of other readers, and a T-shirt chosen from those available through MakeUseOf Rewards. What more motivation than that do you need to respond?

We Ask You is a weekly column dedicated to finding out the opinions of MakeUseOf readers. The questions asked are usually open-ended and likely to necessitate a discussion. Some are opinion-based, while others see you sharing tips and advice, or advocating tools and apps to the MakeUseOf readership. This column is nothing without you, as MakeUseOf is nothing without you.

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Nokia doing awesome job with Windows Phone. They actually listen to people feedback. I would pick Stephen Elop.

Dave P

There are many who would disagree with that assessment of Nokia’s recent performance, but Elop is a good shout.


Mark Hill – Microsoft Seattle! My choice for sure!

Dave P

He looks to be a serious contender, though I haven’t seen his name before.


Ray Ozzie or Ray Kurzweil. Both have shown the ability to innovate, something Ballmer & Co are sorely lacking.

Dave P

They would both be fine choices, and would certainly suggest a desire from Microsoft to up their game.


A kid !!!! Seriously they ve got better ideas…and know what they want …:))

Dave P

Perhaps not a kid but a younger person could definitely be a viable option. It would certainly be a bold move!

Jacob J

The list of names are all capable.But I would choose Stephen Elop. Microsoft and Nokia had come into partnership,so it’s a good choice for Microsoft to team up with Stephen Elop.

Dave P

You’re the second person to mention Elop, so he would clearly be a popular choice.


Linus Benedict Torvalds

Dave P

Wouldn’t that be a turn up for the books!?


Rather than a specific name – I’m not familiar enough with Microsoft’s immediate pool of potential applicants – I’d like to suggest that Microsoft NEEDS someone with a background in science and engineering rather than accounting or finance running the show. That could mean another long-time Microsoftie, but perhaps the company might be better off if the new head were somone born in the age of the Internet, perhaps closer to 30 than 60. I realize that there’s a tremendous amount of inertia in a company of Microsoft’s size, but Microsoft needs to blaze its own trail, not just acquire its way to some hypothetically relevant future. An engineer with some vision who sends the company in a new direction can’t possibly do any worse with tens of billions of dollars than has been done by the current leadership and I think the company could benefit tremendously from thinking that is not immediately concerned with its quarterly balance sheet.


Who said they don’t have…he s just not CEO……the Mind matters not his occupation..

Dave P

This is a common concern, that Microsoft was too bothered by its balance sheet to truly invent and innovate. Ballmer was certainly not a bold innovator, and it would be interesting to see someone with new ideas taking the company forward.

On W

Tony Stark. He’ll bring innovation and loads of mojos to a dull company like Microsoft.

Dave P

I would love to see that. The question is could Iron Man run on Windows 8?


John M Lawrie
Computer Sciences Corporation, CEO


scott guthrie
vice president, asp.net product group