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One would think that Gates and Ballmer are aligned with shareholder interests given their large ownership.

The problems with Microsoft have nothing to do with management's interest being aligned with shareholders. Ballmer does quite well for Microsoft shareholders. He also does a good job exciting IT managers.

The problem is... user satisfaction is terrible. The actual people who use Windows have been unhappy with their products for years. Microsoft alienated tons of users with Vista and they never managed to capture those users to buy again. Windows XP remains Microsoft's single best release and it seems unlikely Windows 7 or Windows 8 will surpass it.

When XP was released, it was easily the best thing around, OSX and Linux had anemic market share and little in the way of applications. Now there is a lot of choice. Macs are more popular than ever, a lot of people are replacing PCs with iPads or other tablets, and IT departments are caving to the pressure to allow outside products in.

No matter how much you push dividends or do share buybacks, if users are fleeing the platform revenues and income shrinks.
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