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Microsoft's Ballmer responds to calls for his ouster

Software giant's CEO offers a loud and direct response to reports of people calling for his dismissal, according to Geekwire.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer Microsoft

Microsoft's Steve Ballmer yesterday addressed the delicate issue of calls for his dismissal as CEO, according to a report from GeekWire.

During a Q&A following a speech given by Ballmer at the Rotary Club in Seattle, Assunta Ng, publisher of the Northwest Asian Weekly asked for his reaction to critics who say that it's time for Microsoft to change its CEO and that it's time for him to go.

Ballmer, who is known for his loud, direct style, responded by saying, "YOU TELL ME if I lack energy or conviction, or we're not driving all the change we need to drive," according to GeekWire, which offered an audio clip of the question and its answer. The question kicked off some nervous laughter from the audience, but the response itself produced a round of applause.

Ng's question was likely triggered by recent comments from Greenlight Capital hedge fund President David Einhorn criticizing Ballmer over his management of Microsoft and calling on the board to replace him.

The board itself showed a certain lack of confidence in its CEO last October when it cut his annual bonus in half pointing to the failure of the Kin, lost market share in the mobile phone business, and Microsoft's inability to target the growing tablet market.

Another question at the Rotary Club centered on Windows 8 and how important it is to Microsoft, which prompted Ballmer to talk about the focus of the company in general.

"We basically, increasingly, only are working on things that are very important," Ballmer said, according to the clip at GeekWire. "I would say the day and age of, sort of, idle kind of smaller things is a little bit behind us."

But the question about Windows 8 prompted Ballmer to respond that Windows itself is very important to the company and that if you cut him open, you'd find Windows inside.

Ballmer recently said that Windows 8 will launch next year--a comment that Microsoft P.R. quickly labeled a "misstatement."