In a meeting with investors and analysts on Thursday, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer copped to a number of mistakes during his time leading the company, including missing the boat on smartphones and the quagmire that was the much-maligned Windows Vista. Ballmer had announced a few weeks ago that he would vacate the CEO position sometime within the next 12 months.

"If there's one thing I regret, there was a period in the early 2000s when we were so focused on what we had to do around Windows," admitted Ballmer, "that we weren't able to redeploy talent to the new device form factor called the phone."

That initial dismissal of the burgeoning smartphone market has led Microsoft to a distant thrid place behind Apple and Google. "We have almost no share," Ballmer said, although with nowhere to go but up, he explained that Microsoft's pending acquisition of Nokia's phone business "is a way to make sure we can capture the gross margin upside because we're making most of the investment today, that we need to make even owning Nokia."

Still, despite the damage that Vista did to Microsoft's desktop OS business, Ballmer still believes that the word "Windows" inspires consumer confidence. "Our device brand more than anything is brand Windows: Windows Phones, Windows PCs, Windows tablets."

At no point in his candid remarks on Microsoft's failures over the past few years did Ballmer mention this amazing travesty: