Microsoft at a Crossroads

Sep 24, 2013

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will retire sometime in the next 12 months, and there’s plenty of speculation about who will succeed him.

But Strategic News Service publisher and KPLU technology commentator Mark Anderson says there are more important issues at stake.

Before making that new hire, Mark says Microsoft needs to do two things: refocus its brand, and restructure its top level of management.

Branding

Under Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer, Microsoft was all about Windows: Windows Phone, Windows Wallet, Windows this, Windows that.

But things are different now. It’s no longer a Windows world.

Microsoft needs to be rebranded as Microsoft, not as the Windows company.

Ballmer is already pushing the company in that direction with the new emphasis on devices and services, but Mark thinks Microsoft needs to be more aggressive about it.

Management Restructuring

Mark sees a company with two main branches: consumer and enterprise.

Steve Ballmer is apparently seeing the same thing, just with different labels. Last week, Ballmer told analysts he’s reorganizing the financial reporting structure of the company along two main divisions: Devices & Consumer, and Commercial.

But, instead of one CEO at the top, Mark envisions an office of the president with three people in it: a CEO with a president of the enterprise (commercial) branch and a president of the consumer branch.

This would be a big change from the current structure of a CEO, COO and multiple vice presidents.

If Microsoft wants to be successful in both the enterprise and consumer worlds, it needs to do more than just hire a new CEO. Mark says it needs a radical change at the top.