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Cramer: Is Street wrong about Microsoft chief?

Thursday, 21 Nov 2013 | 6:15 PM ET
Xbox One: Most revolutionary device to hit your living room
Thursday, 21 Nov 2013 | 6:15 PM ET
Mad Money's Jim Cramer weighs in on what he calls the most revolutionary device ever to hit your living room, the Xbox One. He also discusses the irony of Ballmer's poor reputation in spite of the Xbox's success.

(Click for video linked to a searchable transcript of this Mad Money segment)

Over the summer, when the Street first heard that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer planned to step down, shares immediately rallied.

For quite some time, pros had lamented the way in which Ballmer ran Microsoft, criticizing him for essentially lacking innovation. They cheered his departure by buying Microsoft stock.

"Not only is Steve Ballmer viewed by many as a failure during his time at Microsoft," explained Cramer, "he's sealed the deal with a recent interview in the Wall Street Journal in which he accepted the blame.

'Maybe I am an emblem of an old era, and I have to move on,' Ballmer told the Journal.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer addresses shareholders during the Microsoft Shareholders Annual Meeting November 19, 2013 in Bellevue, Washington.
Getty Images
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer addresses shareholders during the Microsoft Shareholders Annual Meeting November 19, 2013 in Bellevue, Washington.

Cramer can't help but wonder if the Street, and Ballmer for that matter, are both being a little too harsh.

Despite Microsoft's stumbles, its products are among the most used in the industry. Also, "The new Xbox promises to be the most revolutionary device ever to hit your living room," Cramer noted.

In addition, as cited by the Journal, under Steve Ballmer's watch, Microsoft succeeded in limiting many threats, including the open software standard called Linux that Mr. Ballmer once described as a "cancer." He also helped Microsoft recover from the shock of the U.S. government's effort to break the company apart.

"Yet, despite the achievements, Ballmer is somehow more reviled despite running one of the largest companies in the world relatively better than many of his peers," Cramer noted.

Microsoft has advanced 38% for the year.

"Over the same time period Intel is up 19%, Cisco is up 8%, Oracle is up 4%, SAP is up 1% and IBM is down 3%," Cramer reminded.

In other words, Microsoft is doing better by shareholders than many of its rivals. Yet the Street wants Ballmer's head to roll, the chief of a company that's outperforming peers.

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"I want to see more heat on the other guys who I think aren't delivering," Cramer said.

But that hasn't been happening.

"To me it seems a little unfair. In almost any other industry the chief executive of a behemoth that returned 38% ytd would be celebrated. Lauded. Nevertheless, the market has spoken."

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