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Steve Ballmer's Tenure As Microsoft CEO In Numbers

Ballmer announced Friday that he would retire from Microsoft in the next 12 months. Here's a by-the-numbers look at his decade-plus run as the software giant's leader.

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After running Microsoft for more than a decade, CEO Steve Ballmer said Friday he would retire in the next 12 months once his successor is found.

The announcement essentially brings to an end an extended period of investor frustration with Microsoft. While Ballmer methodically and slowly grew the company into a behemoth, shareholders have been looking at the quick and massive growth of major competitors Google and Apple during the same period and are left to wonder what might have been.

Throughout Ballmer's tenure, Microsoft stock has basically flatlined — that is, until today's retirement announcement, which sent shares up nearly 8% in trading.

The two biggest questions now are who will take over for Ballmer and can that person keep it from going through another "what might have been" period. With that in mind, here are a few highlights and lowlights from Ballmer's tenure, by the numbers.

**Editor's note: Microsoft doesn't break out Windows sales figures, only licenses, so its most important product is note quantified here.**


...which would be great, but the entertainment and devices division's operating income (and margins) are tiny compared with its business and Windows operations.

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

In 2012, the entertainment and devices unit brought in $9.6 billion in revenue, but only recorded $364 million in operating income. In 2011, it was $1.3 billion in operating income off $8.9 billion in revenue.

By comparison, in 2012, Windows brought in $11.5 billion in operating income off $18.4 billion in revenue, and in 2011 it brought in $12.2 billion in operating income off $19 billion in revenue.


Then again, Microsoft has lost billions in its online services division since 2005.

Jeff Chiu / AP

The company lost around $1.9 billion, $2.7 billion, and $2.4 billion in 2012, 2011, and 2010, respectively. (2012 included a large goodwill impairment charge, so we're excluding that number.) That loss narrowed to $1.3 billion in Microsoft's 2013 fiscal year.

Microsoft's Servers & Tools business has grown at a healthy clip, and its business services have also performed well.

Nir Elias / Reuters

Still, Microsoft is constantly facing the risk of cannibalizing its other divisions unintentionally as it looks at other ways to expand its business services like Office — which, for example, could hurt the Windows business if it found its way onto the iPad.

Needless to say, as a company providing enterprise tools and services to larger companies, Microsoft performed well.

So far, Windows has sold around 100 million licenses for Windows 8, its next-generation Windows product.

China Daily China Daily Information Corp - Cdic / Reuters

However, before that, Microsoft had sold more than 400 million licenses of Windows 7. And even before that, pretty much every PC in the world was (and many still are) running Windows XP. Now Windows faces an uncertain future as the PC industry continues to increasingly decline.


However, this is basically tiny compared to its competitors like Apple.

Robert Galbraith / Reuters

For fiscal year 2012, Apple brought in $156.5 billion in revenue, up from about $8 billion in its 2000 fiscal year. Its net income in 2000 was $786 million, compared with $41.7 billion in 2012.

But that actually works out for Ballmer personally. With the stock up more than $2 today, Ballmer's stake in the company is worth about an extra $800 million.

Matthew Lynley is a business reporter for BuzzFeed News in San Francisco. Lynley reports on Silicon Valley and the tech industry.

Contact Matthew Lynley at

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