Mr. Surround-Sound

Think Bill Gates is competitive? New Microsoft president Steve Ballmer can outbark him any day

Steve Ballmer is a Ford guy. Period. His father worked for the Ford Motor Co. in Detroit for 30 years, and if Fords were good enough for Dad, then they are just fine for Steve. Still, even a Lincoln Continental seems an unlikely car choice for a man worth $14 billion--give or take a couple of million--but that's Ballmer. His loyalty is limitless.

It is a trait valued above all others by Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, Ballmer's boss and close friend. And Gates rewarded that unswerving loyalty last week: he appointed Ballmer, 42, formerly Microsoft's chief sales guy, as president and...

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