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Published: Wednesday, 11/16/2011

Microsoft stockholders disgruntled with results

Meeting attendees cite products, share price


BELLEVUE, Wash. — Microsoft Corp. shareholders filed out of the software giant’s annual meeting grumbling that they did not get to ask more questions in their once-a-year opportunity to quiz Chairman Bill Gates and CEO Steve Ballmer.

Tuesday’s event broke up with only a smattering of applause from 450 or so in attendance, while a handful of shareholders angrily shouted for more time to ask questions, after a strictly enforced 15 minutes.

Bill Parker, a shareholder from Cashmere, Wash., said, “We drove through the snow to get here. He [Mr. Ballmer] is talking about tablets and phones as if it were a new thing. Apple’s had these things for years. My granddaughters don’t even know what Microsoft does. They should treat the owners better than they do.”

Despite posting record profit of $23.1 billion last fiscal year, many shareholders are concerned about Microsoft’s static share price, which has been stuck in the $20 to $30 range for more than a decade, and worry the company is losing ground to tech rivals Apple Inc. and Google Inc.

At the meeting, Mr. Ballmer rejected a shareholder suggestion to break up the company, and laid out his often-stated plan to put Windows at the forefront of the company’s push into new forms of computing such as tablets. He also highlighted the Xbox video game console as a game-changing consumer device.

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