Weekend Roundup: Microsoft investors want Gates out with Ballmer, HP unleashes new notebook fleet, Galaxy Gear fails to sparkle

Could Gates follow bawling Ballmer out of exit door?

The Microsoft hierarchy was again thrown into the headlines this week, with outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer bidding farewell to staff in a way only Steve Ballmer could, and company overlord Bill Gates apparently coming under pressure from investors to step down as chairman.

Whatever you think of Ballmer’s tenure as Microsoft chief, you can only be grateful for his on-stage contributions over the years. While his great rivals at Apple and Google set about superseding Redmond over the past decade, they also ushered in an era of cool, understated presentations; all plain black tees and fashionable stubble.

So it’s been refreshing to see Ballmer stay true to his frenzied, oversized puppy dog act, sweating through baggy shirts and generally looking as uncool as you can get.

True to form, Ballmer was full of raucous emotion during his final Microsoft company convention, and when footage of the performance emerged at the start of the week we got to see the thrilling climax (below) complete with Dirty Dancing soundtrack. Wonderful.

If rumours are to be believed, we may also be seeing some goodbyes from Gates before long, with sources claiming that three major shareholders are lobbying for the founder’s departure. The trio, among Microsoft’s top 20 investors, have apparently raised concerns that his declining shareholding in the company is disproportionate to the amount of power he wields as chairman. Is the software giant set for more senior reshuffling?

HP's EliteBook explosion

ITProPortal has been covering some serious ground again this week, with James Laird hitting Las Vegas for Splunk's big data extravaganza and Aatif Sulleyman flying out to Barcelona for a major launch from HP's enterprise division.

The overall theme of the autumn event was 'The new style of IT' and the company made it clear from the outset that its new devices were built with four very clear themes – or "megatrends" – in mind: cloud, security, big data and mobility.

The stars of the show proved to be the business notebooks making up the new EliteBook 800 series. These PCs come in three different sizes: the 12.5in EliteBook 820, the 14in 840 and the 15.6in 850, which can offer up to 33 hours of battery life. The machines, which are encased in a tough magnesium unibody chassis, are up to 40 per cent thinner and 28 per cent lighter than their predecessors, the EliteBook 8000 series, and all three models run Windows 8 as standard.

Be sure to check out Aatif’s report covering everything else that broke cover in Barcelona – it may be the hardware your business is crying out for.

Samsung's Galaxy Gear: The verdict

One of the headline launches at IFA 2013 in Berlin last month was Samsung’s venture into wearable tech with the Galaxy Gear ‘smartwatch’. First impressions were not positive, however. The product didn’t look good, the release felt hasty, and topping our “5 things we learned from IFA” countdown was that ‘Nobody was impressed by Samsung's Galaxy Gear.’

But you cannot make a definitive call on a product before the reviews are in, so we waited with baited breath as our examination of the Galaxy Gear landed this week. The verdict?

“Really, it all comes down to the fact that £300 is a lot of money to spend on something that could have used a longer development and QA cycle, and is more frustrating than enjoyable to use,” writes Jamie Lendino. “The Galaxy Gear is definitely cooler than I expected, but it's not worth buying yet.”

And so, just the two-and-a-half stars out of five for Samsung’s watch. Your move, Apple.