Answer by Balaji Viswanathan:
>>Wasn't the rise of Google, Facebook and Amazon and the fate of MS eventual?
After a decade of mismanagment, Microsoft still makes more profits than
Google+Facebook+Twitter+Alibaba+ Amazon+EBay+Yahoo+Adobe+Baidu combined. 
Take that besties.
It is so big that in 2014 [annual income $60B], it makes as much profit in one day as the whole of RedHat makes in one year. In 2 days it makes as much as Twitter annual income. In one month, it makes more than FB's annual income. [Leave alone poor Amazon or Sony that are not making any profits but mere losses].
>>Microsoft never embraced the web the way it does in last 4-5 years or so.
Wrong. 20 years ago Bill Gates predicted how big Internet is going to be. Look at his memo:. And he did act on his intuition.
- Within months of the launch of Netscape Navigator, Microsoft brought its own arsenal – Internet Explorer – in 1995. A company that didn't care about the web would not react that fast & that brutal. BillG was hell bent on winning theand pulled all stops.
- In August 1995, Microsoft launched MSN as a direct competitor to AOL. For a long time, it was the Internet's most visited properties.
- In 1996, it launched ActiveX the framework that for a long time ruled the content sharing on the Internet (for better or for worse).
- In 1996, Microsoft also unleashed the Hydra [SQL Server 6.5] with built-in support of web applications.
- In 1996, it also brought out theto enable anybody and their grandmother to create webpages.
- In 1997, Microsoft acquiredthat pioneered in mixing the Web and Television. Along with its partnerships like MSNBC, Microsoft was all set for the communication revolution.
- In 1997, Microsoft acquired Hotmail and quickly dominated email.
- In 1998, Microsoft entered the search business with a partnership with Inktomi. For a while, it leveled with Yahoo in search.
- In 1999, Microsoft launched MSN Messenger – the Whatsapp of the previous generation.
- In 2000, it launched the web frameworkthat still continues to be a major player in the game.
Are you saying BillG was not serious about the web? Are you serious?
Some/most of these tool might look ugly when look at from 2014, but they were a revolution back then. When Bill Gates gave up control in January 2000, Microsoft was the undisputed king of technology – both web and software – that got little challenge from Amazon, Google , Yahoo or Apple – all of them relatively old by that point.
BillG vs. SteveB
I have worked under both their administrations.
- Engineers had little respect for Ballmer. I worked and interacted a lot at the ranks at Microsoft & knew very well how scant a respect he commanded, even when Microsoft was doing well.
- Ballmer took his fights personal. He spent way too much time on the "betrayal" by Google that he took off his eyes from the ancient rival – Apple.
- Under Ballmer, Microsoft was very slow to react. Bill Gates attacked Netscape in just 6 months after its release. That instant blitzkreig left Netscape stunted & confused. Ballmer attacked iPod 5 years after its release. That time allowed Apple to really perfect things & get a financial foothold. By the time Zune came out, it was too late & too ugly to bother iPod.
- Ballmer really over-reached instead of streamlining. He fought every major technology company in parallel – Oracle (with SQL server), IBM (Windows Server & other tools), Sun (with ASP), Google (with MSN->Live->Bing), Apple (with Windows, Zune..), Sony (with XBox), Mozilla (with IE) besides taking the open source community head on. This multi-pronged battle really depleted the ranks.