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Major Microsoft shareholder wants Ballmer's blood

Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer has been urged to step aside by one of the company's most powerful shareholders.

The ebullient Microsoft boss, better known for his sweaty, bellicose presentations than his business acumen or technological nous, has overseen ten years in which the software virtual monopoly's meteoric rise has ground to a halt.

Under Ballmer's helmsmanship, the most valuable company in the US has ignominiously slipped to third place behind Apple and IBM and seen its stock stagnate not least because of howlers like Windows Vista and the teen-friendly Kin mobile phone handsets which even Microsoft employees refused to use.

Ballmer has been barracked in the media and behind closed doors before now, but never in such a public manner, and by so important a player, as superstar hedge fund manager David Einhorn.

The money man's Greenlight Capital operation currently holds nine million shares in Microsoft, according to Reuters, and recently intimated that it might be time Mr Ballmer started looking for a new job.

Speaking at an investor conference in New York yesterday, Einhorn reportedly said that it was time for Ballmer to step aside and "give someone else a chance," adding, "His continued presence is the biggest overhang on Microsoft's stock."

This week Ballmer announced that Windows 8 would launch next year. Only for Microsoft to hurriedly retract his remarks. We can't see that sort of thing happening to Steve Jobs.