Friday, August 23, 2013

Microsoft: Ballmer Retiring - Board Now the Problem

In case you missed it (how?), Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has announced he will retire within 12 months. MSFT is up 7% or so... many Microsoft dependent people are rejoicing/saying goodbye as befits their personas.

I'm glad to see that Ballmer is leaving - Microsoft should have ousted him in the middle of the Vista fiasco. Had that happened, things might be very different now. But as to Ballmer leaving now... it's a step in the right direction, but just one step. Letting him linger for as much as 12 months has to be the worst idea ever... hopefully it is just the board letting him leave with dignity and the reins will be passed much sooner.

The fact remains that Microsoft is in for a very grim holiday season... and if they do not move very quickly on a real reorganization, they may miss 2014's holiday season as well. If they miss both seasons, how much of a consumer/small business presence will they have left?

The most disturbing news got kind of lost in the shuffle of Steve Ballmer bashing. Business Insider covers it here:
Microsoft Becoming Device And Services Company And Microsoft Is Giving Up On The Software Business!

Basically, the chairman of the board committee that is handling the CEO search said:
“The board is committed to the effective transformation of Microsoft to a successful devices and services company,”
We are talking about a company that just lost billions of dollars on its first computers and that just had a 3-day outage for its flagship service.

OEM's are rebelling against Windows 8/8.1. Lenovo just announced it would be putting a partner's start button on all of its computers and that the partner would also have an app store (that competes with the Windows App Store) installed as well. Few believe Windows 8.1 will be accepted any better than Windows 8 was. Windows 8's biggest problem is that it tried to force customers into what Microsoft perceived as its future, not what the customer needed to get work done.

The entire "devices and services" strategy fits that same pattern... it is what Microsoft wants, not what the customer needs or wants. [You should have seen the salesperson at Staple's explaining to a middle-class couple that they could either pay a lot as a one time fee or pay a yearly fee for Office. The couple was clearly outraged. Guess what will happen when they discover LibreOffice/Google Docs.]

Microsoft's board should think twice before tying the hands of an incoming CEO with a "devices and services" strategy that, to date, has clearly failed.

1 comment:

  1. Having time to reflect on the matter and having reread my post, I have decided I was being too optimistic about Ballmer leaving. A new CEO from outside (which I feel is essential) will take a minimum of 3 months to get up to speed. It will take another year to implement any real changes and have them pushed through to products. Essentially this means that they will miss the holiday seasons for 2013 and 2014, even if things go well.

    It is time to face the fact that Microsoft is dead (at least for consumers and small business). I'll be looking at doing "Replacing Microsoft" posts in the near future.


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