On the eve of his exit as chief executive officer of Microsoft, after more then a decade on the job, it is more evident than ever that Steve Ballmer's image does not always reflect reality.
As anyone who has ever seen him speak at a conference (or portrayed on television, as he was in cartoon form on the animated series South Park this year) knows, Ballmer is a larger-than-life kind of guy. His public persona is brash, bombastic and, at times, bordering on boorish. To most people, he is known more for his manner than his management.
But look closely, and you'll notice that the real Steve Ballmer is responsible for making a handful of largely unsung strategic decisions during his tenure as CEO of Microsoft (MSFT) that will continue to affect the company and industry long after a new leader takes the helm of the Redmond, Wash.-based company.