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Windows Vista is Ballmer's biggest regret at Microsoft

Microsoft's Steve Ballmer has given his first interview since announcing he's retiring, sharing his highs and lows from 33 years with the company.

Microsoft's Steve Ballmer has given his first interview since announcing he's stepping down as head of the company. In it, he shares the highs and lows of his 12 years as CEO, and his 33 years at Microsoft. So what was his biggest regret? Windows Vista, it might not surprise you to hear.

"I would say probably the thing I regret most is the, what shall I call it, the loopedy-loo that we did that was sort of Longhorn to Vista," Ballmer told ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley. "I would say that's probably the thing I regret most." Funny, I'd have put this pretty high on my list of regrets.

The "loopedy-loo" involved resetting the codebase of Windows Vista midway through development, meaning it lost a number of features Microsoft had promised. Windows Vista was codenamed Longhorn.

So what's he most proud of? "I'm proud of being I would say a significant part even of the birth of intelligent personal computing, the notion that people use computing technologies, whether that's phones, PCs," Ballmer said. "I mean we kind of birthed that over the course of the '80s and '90s, and that's had such an unbelievable impact on people's lives."

Ballmer doesn't have any firm plans for his retirement, but he's looking forward to it. He said: "I haven't spent a lot of time -- I don't have time to spend actually even thinking about what comes next. I'm not going to have time to do that until the board gets a successor in place.

"My whole life has been about my family and about Microsoft. And I do relish the idea that I'll have another chapter, a chapter two, if you will, of my life where I'll get to sort of experience other sides of life, learn more about myself, all of that, but it's not like I leave with a specific plan in mind."

He made the decision "a day or two ago". Bill Gates didn't try to make him stay, as "Bill respects my decision".

Microsoft has had a tricky time of late. Its Windows Phone software is impressive, but Android and iOS have managed to steal a massive lead on it in recent years. Is this the right time for Ballmer to leave? Who should replace him as head of Microsoft? Let me know in the comments, or on our Facebook page.